Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A double lightning strike

Isabel Frame, Oamaru Gardens

Janet Frame’s younger sister Isabel died on this day in 1947. Isabel drowned in Picton Harbour while on holiday with her mother, almost exactly ten years after her sister Myrtle had drowned in the Oamaru public baths. As Janet Frame says in her autobiography An Angel at My Table:

“On the second afternoon of the Picton holiday, the phone rang, and June answered it, and heard through the static and crackle, that it was ‘Picton calling’. Dad was at work, and Bruddie was out. Aunty Grace was calling from Picton. Then there was an invisible commotion in the kitchen, like static leaked from the telephone: Isabel, swimming in Picton Harbour, had collapsed and was drowned. There was to be an inquest, after which Mother would bring Isabel home by train.
There was no use even supposing that there had been a mistake: Isabel drowned. It was almost ten years since Myrtle’s death, and this new blow, like a double lightning strike, burned away our thinking and feeling – what was there to think about, to feel?

The phone rang again. It was Dad: he’d heard the news and was coming home. Bruddie was coming home too. The news was everywhere: Family tragedy of ten years ago repeated. Oamaru girl drowned.

Some called her ‘girl’, some called her ‘woman’. Isabel May Frame in her twenty-first year."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Frame Expo

Every year I am amused to receive an invitation to an Art and Frame Expo in China. It has crossed my mind that if I were to submit an application to Creative New Zealand for a travel grant to attend this expo, I might have more luck than when the Janet Frame estate applied to Creative New Zealand as well as another NZ literary funding entity, 'CLL' (Copyright Licensing), for help with funding the preparation of Janet Frame's letters for publication. We were turned down by both funding bodies. I am sure that in contrast to that rejection of the opportunity to support the publishing of Frame's historic correspondence, the arts bureaucrats would likely be swayed by the glamour of this exciting opportunity to represent New Zealand frames in Shanghai.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

For Sheila's a jolly good fellow

 Warm congratulations and Happy Birthday to Janet Frame's old friend 
Sheila Natusch, 90 years old today.

A recent feature on Sheila Natusch appeared in the University of Otago's Alumni Magazine.

A movie about Sheila's life is currently in  production: No Ordinary Sheila.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

"Owls Do Cry remains innovative and relevant"

The Guardian

"The modernist masterpiece about siblings struggling with money, health and grief still has the power to unnerve and astonish nearly 60 years after it was first published"

~ The Guardian reviews Janet Frame's Owls Do Cry, February 2016.

"While a strong reflection of the time at which it was written, Owls Do Cry remains innovative and relevant. Frame’s idiosyncratic and startlingly visual style means that the book’s immense power to unnerve, astonish and impress endures."

~ Claire Hazelton


"the everyday and the magical"


Actor Kerry Fox as Janet Frame, reading at the door of the garden hut* where Frame wrote her first novel OWLS DO CRY. Scene from Jane Campion's film adaptation of Janet Frame's autobiography, AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE.
"Frame’s experimental debut novel is part of a piece with some extraordinary work by women writers in the 1950s. This is the era that saw the emergence of novelists including Doris Lessing, Muriel Spark, and Iris Murdoch, and Frame’s place alongside them would be assured if she never published anything but this one novel.

It’s a mixture of the bleak and the humorous, the everyday and the magical, as she tells the story of the Withers family. Frame’s unique voice, fragmented in places, superbly cohesive in others, drives the individual members on to their particular fates.

The sense of inescapable doom is surprisingly not as claustrophobic as one might aspect, though, thanks to the dancing of the words, their light and life."

Lesley McDowell
The Independent
 18 January 2016

* The real hut was smaller!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Owls Do Cry on a roll

Wenn Eulen Schrein
Janet Frame
A new German edition of Janet Frame's first novel Owls Do Cry is published this month.
(sublicensed paperback edition)
Owls Do Cry was first published in German translation in 1961 and has been reissued several times since then. (This is at least the 8th German edition, to my knowledge - not counting reprints.)
This new German edition comes hot on the heels of the new UK edition published by Virago Modern Classics, which is receiving some marvellous notices, including positive reviews in the Irish Times, the Independent, the GuardianBBC Radio 4 and Radio Scotland.

Owls Do Cry, Virago Modern Classic January 2016
Here are some other current and recent international editions of Owls Do Cry.
A new American edition is forthcoming in 2017, 60 years after first publication.

Here is a link to the Janet Frame Facebook page album of some Owls Do Cry Covers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2016 Janet Frame Memorial Lecture

The timetables are out for the Writers Week at the New Zealand Festival (i.e. the Wellington Festival) always an exciting time for booklovers.

The 2016 Festival will again be hosting the Janet Frame Memorial Lecture to be given this year by author Philip Temple. His theme will be:

"How much has changed for New Zealand writers in the last 50 years, and what has remained constant? For the ninth New Zealand Society of Authors Janet Frame Memorial Lecture, which coincides with the 50th anniversary edition of his book The Sea and the Snow, NZSA President of Honour Philip Temple shares both his own experience and his work on a biography of Maurice Shadbolt to illuminate the subject."
Saturday 12 March 2016
City Gallery, Wellington
Free Admission