Saturday, December 19, 2015

A first volume of Janet Frame's letters

Jay to Bee
 Janet Frame's Letters to William Theophilus Brown
Editor: Denis Harold
Publisher: Counterpoint Press, USA
Date: April 12, 2016
Hardcover: 464 pages
Size: 6 x 9 "
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619027283
ISBN-13: 978-1619027282

Publisher's Catalogue Copy:

During her time at an artists’ colony in New Hampshire, Janet Frame met California painter William Theophilus ('Bill') Brown, and their friendship resulted in a whimsical and artistic correspondence. In Brown, Frame found an ideal listener who inspired her to take the art of letter writing to new creative heights; over the course of their correspondence, Frame included character sketches, personal disclosures, invented tales, and dozens of her own doodles and collages.

This compilation of nearly 140 letters, accompanied by hundreds of original illustrations, has been published nowhere else in the world, including Frame’s home country of New Zealand. This moving and enlightening correspondence opens up the hopes, fears, joys, and inner machinations of one of the world’s greatest writers. The closeness and intimacy of the two artists allows for unfettered wordplay and creativity, where Janet is 'Jay' and Bill is 'Bee'; the result is a book that vividly captures the brilliantly unique wit that was Janet Frame.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

'The Suicides' by Janet Frame

The Suicides

It is hard for us to enter
the kind of despair they must have known
and because it is hard we must get in by breaking
the lock if necessary for we have not the key,
though for them there was no lock and the surrounding walls
were supple, receiving as waves, and they drowned
though not lovingly; it is we only
who must enter in this way.

Temptations will beset us, once we are in.
We may want to catalogue what they have stolen.
We may feel suspicion; we may even criticize the d├ęcor
of their suicidal despair, may perhaps feel
it was incongruously comfortable.

Knowing the temptations then
let us go in
deep to their despair and their skin and know
they died because words they had spoken
returned always homeless to them.
Janet Frame
First published in The Pocket Mirror (George Braziller, 1967)
Collected in Storms Will Tell (Bloodaxe Books, 2008)

 Cover Illustration: 'The Stolen Child' by Tabitha Vevers

A-Level study notes for Janet Frame's 'The Bath'

Janet Frame's classic short story 'The Bath' is a perennial favourite for YA students to explore in schools and colleges around the world. It's one of the short stories prescribed for Cambridge International’s AS & A-Level Literature course. Recently I came across this study guide (pictured above) written especially for it.
The story itself is available in a number of educational anthologies and also in the collections of Janet Frame stories titled The Daylight and the Dust (published by Virago Modern Classics and Random House Australia) and Prizes (published by Vintage NZ and Counterpoint USA).

The Daylight and the Dust by Janet Frame is available as a paperback and as an e-book.