September 10, 2008


Graham Beattie

Thanks for coming down to New Zealand Mark, and for your contribution to the Christchurch Writers Festival. I am sorry I didn't catch up with you after the panel on blogging but I had to rush away to post a report on the panel to my blog! I hope you might get down this way again sometime, perhaps to promote your next novel. Meantime congratulations on your fine blog.
Graham Beattie


ah, mark... i lived in, and traveled throughout, NZ for almost two years, and the pics, etc., make me want to go back! so glad you had a good time there.


Great pictures Mark! Thanks!

Why does your book have a different cover dowwnundr?

Vanda Symon

I enjoyed both of your sessions on stage in Christchurch and I thought your late entrance into the It's not about me - or is it? panel was most elegant. Both you and Rachael King, the chair, handled it with style!


I am also sorry we didn't get to chat, Graham, and thank you Vanda, for the kind comment! And MV, each publisher puts their own cover on a book, and I have an actual Australian publisher, hence the different editions.

Nancy, aka Bookfool

Ooooh, I want to go there! Gorgeous!

Rick Rodriguez

I agree Christchurch is lovely. Your pictures reminded me of my March 2008 visit. My drive down to Queenstown through the heart of the South island was equally, if not more, memorable.

Donna Robertson

Kia ora Mark, I'm really glad the Festival got you to come down here to Christchurch (my friend at work has just gathered enough steam to start playing on the chess set in the Square). Enjoyed listening to you at both sessions.

I'll keep on enjoying TEV from here, cheers.

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe


    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."