Monday, February 11, 2013

"just too good to put down"

Gorse is Not people

"Her stories permeate something so essentially, yet elusively Kiwi."

Review in NZ Doctor Newspaper (30 January 2013):

This book was read from cover to cover over a weekend because it was just too good to put down. Gorse is Not People is a posthumously published collection of short stories from literary legend Janet Frame. It is a real treat for lovers of Frame's work because none of the stories have been published as a collection before and some have never even been published at all. The 28 stories span her writing career, with some having appeared before in magazines, journals and newspapers, or read aloud on radio. And some, for one reason or another, deliberately left unpublished during her lifetime, only to be finally revealed in this collection.

The title story was written in 1954 but was not published until 2008, by the New Yorker. It is the tale of a young woman with dwarfism, who, as she becomes an adult, dreams of freedom from the mental institution she has spent her entire life in. It's heart-wrenching. On the lighter side, I particularly enjoyed "Between My Father and the King" and "The Plum Tree and the Hammock", both making their first appearance here.

Frame's portrayal of the world through child's eyes is spot on  and funny.

Who can fault the book? Frame is, of course, a genius. Her stories permeate something so essentially, yet elusively Kiwi. Not in the trite black singlet and gumboots sort of way. She captures something far more real, more subconscious, raw, true and naked. And it's all wrapped up in a nice hardback cover to remain a treasure on the bookcase for years to come. JdM

Gorse is Not People
Janet Frame
Published by Penguin Books
Hardcover, 252pp, $40
ISBN 978043567707

This collection will be available in the USA in May 2013
from Counterpoint Press
under the name Between My Father and the King.

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