30 June 2008

If the Apocalypse Comes, Beep Me

It took me a long time to warm to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was shown at odd times and on obscure channels on New Zealand television. My wife cottoned on to it a couple of seasons before I did, and kept trying to persuade me to watch it with her — but I resisted. What a stupid title, and wasn’t it some kind of teen romance thing?

Finally, she persuaded me to watch an episode right through; but that didn’t help much, because that episode was Into The Woods (5.10), the one in which Buffy breaks up with her boyfriend Riley. Into the Woods is about as thoroughly “teen romance” as Buffy ever got. Sure, there was a baffling scene where the distraught heroine gets into a fight with emaciated people who kept evaporating in puffs of dust, but I couldn’t really see the point of all that.

Kay persisted, though, and I was sufficiently interested to sit through and enjoy Once More, With Feeling (6.7), the musical episode, even though I generally can’t abide musicals. Before much longer, I was demanding back episodes and plotting to acquire the DVDs.

After seven seasons of brilliant writing, excellent acting, comedy, drama, horror, romance — of scenes that managed to be gut-wrenching, hilarious, scary and thought-provoking all at once — the series came up against the biggest Big Bad of all, the network. Buffy Summers had already died twice (though the first time hardly counted); the third time was the charm, because even the Chosen One had no power against the Hollywood suits. The spin-off series, Angel, ran for one more season.

Then, it seemed, the rest would be silence, despite the fan and academic activity that sprang up to fill the gap (and even some poetry).

But, not so much. Buffy Season 8 has been incarnated in comic form. The “season” is canon – that is to say, official — Buffy. It is supervised, and partly written, by the TV series’ creator, Joss Whedon. It picks up on the climactic events of Season 7, which liberated Buffy from the heavy burden of being The One Girl to save the world, and shows how Buffy and her friends adapt to the new dispensation and some ugly new threats.

The individual comics, in sets of five, are being collected into trade paperbacks. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Volume 1: The Long Way Home was a mixed bag: it was great to enter the lives of the familiar characters again and find out how they were feeling about life (not uniformly happy, which will come as no surprise to those familiar with Joss Whedon’s work), but the storyline was so compressed, and so much new material was introduced, that it was hard even for a Buffy fan to follow what was going on. And then there was the contrast between Jo Chen’s wonderful cover art, with its beautiful and true-to-life (or at least true-to-the-actors) depiction of the characters, and Georges Jeanty’s interior art, which made Buffy looked like Sarah Michelle Gellar one minute, and Anna Kournikova the next.

Coming soon: a review of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Volume 2: No Future for You.

28 June 2008

Winter Readings Series 2008 - Wellington, August/September 2008

News from HeadworX

This year's readings celebrate 10 years of HeadworX Publishers in Wellington, and are a tribute to The Beatles' White Album, with Beatles music played at the readings.

We will be announcing this year's winner of the Earl of Seacliff Poetry Prize: Will Leadbeater, who will come down from Auckland to read. This will be a rare chance to see Will Leadbeater read, one of our unsung poets who has been writing away for years.

Wine/juice and books for sale. Venue is the City Gallery Theatre, Civic Square, Wellington.


AUG 20, Wednesday, 6.30pm-8pm
Reading 1 - Helter Skelter

Mark Pirie
Harry Ricketts
Richard Langston
Rob Hack

Plus launch of Mark Pirie's new books Slips: cricket poems (ESAW) and Bottle of Armour and Trespassing in Dionysia (both Original Books).

MC Niel Wright

AUG 28, Thursday, 6.30pm-8pm
Reading 2 - Revolution

Niel Wright
Helen Rickerby
Evelyn Conlon
Will Leadbeater

MC Harvey Molloy

Plus launch of Helen Rickerby's My Iron Spine (HeadworX)

SEP 3, Wednesday, 6.30pm-8pm
Reading 3 - Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Michael O'Leary
Gemma Claire
Marilyn Duckworth
Bill Dacker

MC: Nelson Wattie

Plus launch of Michael O'Leary's Paneta Street (HeadworX)

26 June 2008

Nice Photo ... Shame about the Review

After the very positive review by Jessica Le Bas in the Nelson Mail, and several good ones in other papers, most lately the Timaru Herald, Transported has had its first bad review, by Steve Walker in the Listener.

Mind you, it wasn't all bad. He said good things about "Rat Up a Drainpipe", "The Wadestown Shore" and "The New Neighbours", but he seemed to struggle with the shorter stories, and the less realistic stories — and as for the shorter and less realistic stories, they were right out.

Well, there' s a name for this aspect of what I write : it's called interstitial fiction, and it's something I'll be posting more about in future. It's not everybody's cup of tea, but I hope it will be yours.

(Incidentally, Chris Else had an entertaining reaction to a bad review by Steve Walker of one of his books — see the third article down.)

The Listener review is headed by a jumbo-sized version of my author photo. This pleases me, not for egotistical reasons, but because a recent interview with photographer Miriam Berkley points up the importance of author photos in a crowded book market. There's some wonderful author photos accompanying that interview, and it's well worth reading.

Sonali Mukherji, who took my author photo, is an excellent photographer. She took the photo at the Kelburn Croquet Club, next to Victoria University, on a brilliantly sunny day last year. The sun was reflecting off my glasses, so she insisted I take them off: that also took years off my apparent age! It's a bit like The Picture of Dorian Gray; I can grow steadily more decrepit, while my photo continues to twinkle at the world.

23 June 2008

No Oil

I’ve posted here previously about our dependence on oil, and how to start addressing it. There’s a story in Transported, "Homestay", which touches on the same theme — though, being fiction, it also includes people with wings flying around rural Southland, which I don’t actually expect to be a prominent feature of post-Peak Oil scenarios.

Here’s my one attempt, so far, to tackle the topic in poetry. “No Oil” was first published in Southern Ocean Review (together with “Replicant”), and is included in All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens.

No Oil

Bad news from the north
and the queues growing longer.
Late winter, I remember,
when the shipments ceased.

There was still oil for some
which showed
where power intersected with need:
The rich.
Ministerial limousines.

The rest of us walking,
riding bikes, taking trains,
as our grandparents had:
valuing land
for what it can grow.

A Great Leap Forwards
in reverse
our faith now
in the wisdom of the old.

The world to the north
turns to poison
a battle
of each against all.

Here we cling on
in the ruins of a false economy
doing to others
being done unto
looking back with angry eyes
on a century of waste.

(If the “shipments from the north” ceased right now, we could meet about 2/3 of New Zealand’s present oil demand from domestic production — but that’s unusually high at the moment because of the exploitation of the Tui field, and there’s no guarantee that production levels will stay this high for long.)

20 June 2008

Where You Can Buy Transported

Online: You can buy Transported from a number of online booksellers, including Fishpond, Whitcoulls and New Zealand Books Abroad (which I recommend for overseas customers). A quick Google search will turn up others.

In person: You can buy Transported from the bookshops listed below. I'm sure there are others - if you find Transported in a bookshop not listed here, please let me know by an email to senjmito@gmail.com. If you go to a bookshop that doesn't have Transported in stock, please encourage them to (re-)order it.


The following Whitcoulls stores should stock Transported: Bennetts Pier, Auckland Domestic Airport Terminal [signed copies available], Bennetts on Broadway, Botany Downs, Cashel Street, Centerplace, Chartwell, Corner [not actually sure where this is!], Courtenay Place, Dunedin (George Street), Dunedin (Meridian Centre), Galleria, Henderson, Invercargill, Lambton Quay, Milford, Mt Maunganui, Nelson, New Lynn, New Plymouth, Northlands, Plaza Palmerston, Queensgate (Lower Hutt), Riccarton, St Lukes, Taupo, Wellington Domestic Airport Terminal [signed copies available], Whangarei

Other Bookshops

Auckland: Unity, Borders, Time Out, Daniel's.

Rotorua: McLeods

New Plymouth: Wadsworths

Wellington: Unity [signed copies available], Dymocks [signed copies available], Parsons, Borders, Johnsonville Paper Plus

Nelson: Page & Blackmore

Christchurch: Borders, Madras Cafe Books, Arts Centre Bookshop

Dunedin: University Bookshop

... plus other Paper Plus outlets throughout the country.

Happy hunting!

19 June 2008

Facing Pages

This article was originally published in a fine line, the magazine of the New Zealand Poetry Society.

Facing Pages

Translation is a strange business. Take these two translations of a four-line poem by Osip Mandelstam:

Into the distance disappear the mounds of human heads
I dwindle — go unnoticed now
But in affectionate books, in children's games
I will rise from the dead to say: the sun!

(quoted as an epigraph to Gene Wolfe's novel The Sword of the Lictor)

Mounds of human heads are wandering into the distance.
I dwindle among them. Nobody sees me. But in books
much loved, and in children's games I shall rise
from the dead to say the sun is shining.

(from Osip Mandelstam, Selected Poems)

The first version is my favourite poem. The second – well, it’s OK. Yet they are both translations of the same four lines of Russian poetry.

What’s so special about poetry in translation? Well, for one, only the best poetry from other languages tends to be translated into English, so in picking up a volume of translated poetry, there’s a reasonable assurance that there will be some good stuff inside. For another, I like poetry to surprise me, and I’ve found that there’s more chance of being surprised by poets and poems from languages other than English. This isn’t to claim that poets in English are unimaginative; but the poetic tradition in other languages differs from the poetic tradition in English, and a good translation will preserve the “otherness” of the source poem. Beauty and strangeness — the perfect combination!

When the Iraqi poet Basim Furat lived in Wellington, I attended several readings at which he read in Arabic, and Mark Pirie then read a translation of the Arabic poetry into English. Arabic poetry is about as far removed from the unrhetorical, conversational tone of most New Zealand poetry as it is possible to get: Arabic poetry is rich in extended metaphor, imagery, and rhetoric. I couldn’t get the hang of it at all at first, but after hearing it a few times together with the translations, I have grown to appreciate the style. (Many of the translations into English of Basim’s poems are included in his collection Here and There.)

My favourite format for books of translated poetry is to have the original and the English translation on facing pages. This goes both for languages that I can puzzle my way through armed with a dictionary and dim memories of language lessons (Russian, and to a lesser degree French, Spanish and Maori); and those I’m completely out of my depth in (German, Norwegian). It’s like opening one Christmas present and finding another one inside: the poem in English on the right and, its riches less accessible, the original poem on the left.

Two of my favourite poets are Anna Akhmatova and Paul Celan. While Celan is notoriously cryptic, Akhmatova writes in clear, classical Russian. Nevertheless, her poetry presents the same problem for the translator as does most Russian poetry: to rhyme or not to rhyme. Russian is a very regular language, every bit as declined and conjugated as Latin, and sense does not depend on word order. This means that the rhyming resources available to the Russian poet are much greater than those available to the poet writing in English.

Many translators of Russian poetry attempt to preserve the rhyme scheme, or at least come up with an equivalent scheme. In even the most highly skilled hands, however, this creates the risk that the translation will stray too far from the sense of the original for the sake of finding rhymes. On the other hand, unrhymed translations are inherently less “Russian”. It’s a choice with no obvious right answer, and the translators of my Akhmatova Selected Poems have rhymed, or not rhymed, as seems best to them for each poem. It’s a fine collection and a good introduction to a wonderful poet.

But if the translator of Akhmatova faces problems, these pale beside those faced by the translator of Celan, a poet who exudes difficulty and breathes paradox. Michael Hamburger’s introduction to the Celan Selected Poems is a testament both to the difficulty of Hamburger's task as translator, and to the zeal and commitment with which he pursued this task.

The previous paragraph reads like a “Danger-Keep Out!” warning posted on the approach to Celan's poems, but I'm not trying to put you off. Despite their difficulty, these poems are wonderful: fascinating, endlessly inventive. I don’t speak German, but as I look between the translation and the original, the German roots of English words start popping out at me, and I can begin to see why the translator has made the choices he has, and how he has attempted to translate what many would regard as the untranslatable.

I was given book tokens for Christmas. I've just used some of them to buy a copy of Jorge Luis Borges' Selected Poems (read my subsequent review). Facing pages again, this time Spanish and English. I open the book and my eyes flick from right to left and back again. In the space between the facing pages, a new poem grows.

- Tim Jones

Books cited

Gene Wolfe, The Sword of the Lictor, Volume 3 of The Book of the New Sun (Arrow, 1992)

Osip Mandelstam, Selected Poems, translated by Clarence Brown and W. S. Merwin (Penguin, 1977)

Basim Furat, Here and There, edited by Mark Pirie (HeadworX, 2004)

Anna Akhmatova, Selected Poems, translated by Stanley Kunitz with Max Hayward (Collins Harvill, 1989)

Paul Celan, Selected Poems, translated by Michael Hamburger (Penguin, 1990)

Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems, edited by Alexander Coleman (Penguin, 2000)

17 June 2008

Sunset on Mars


NASA's Spirit rover took this image of sunset over the rim of Gusev Crater on Mars on 19 May 2005. See NASA's website for more information.

15 June 2008

Frank O'Connor Transported to Montana

A few bits and pieces that relate to earlier posts:

Frank O'Connor Award: In addition to the interviews with New Zealand award longlistees Elizabeth Smither and Tim Jones, an interview with Witi Ihimaera about his longlisted short story collection Ask The Posts of the House is now up at The Good Books Guide.

Transported: I've now seen reviews from Craccum (Auckland University student newspaper), the Chronicle (Wanganui and Horowhenua) and the Nelson Mail. All have been positive. Jessica Le Bas, in the Nelson Mail, had some very nice things to say:

I read Jones’s first story, Rat Up a Drainpipe, and couldn’t put it down. I laughed out loud, and felt unusually good. It was fast paced and full of quirky incidents. When it ended I wanted more.

Typical of Jones, Transported crosses genres. There’s science fiction, comedy and satire, and even a few tales involving global warming. The Wadestone [sic] Shore has Pete rowing around a drowned Wellington foreshore between high-rise buildings, trawling for treasures. The seat of government has moved to Taupo. You have to laugh, but should we?

Jones’s bag of literary tricks is witty and refreshingly humorous. He’s not new to the literary scene, but with Transported, his second short story collection, he will not linger in the background again. Bring it on, Tim Jones!

That's both very flattering, and a better summary of the book than any I've been able to come up with. Thank you, Jessica!

Montana Book Awards: Something of a furore has erupted over the fact that four, rather than the specified five, fiction titles have been shortlisted for the Montana Book Awards. Graham Beattie had a real go at the topic in his blog, and much fulmination has ensued.

I'm not in the camp that is treating this as a major scandal. Of course, I might feel differently if Transported had been among the books in contention (as it will be, perhaps, in 2009); but I think that the judging of literary awards is a subjective thing, a matter at least as much of the judges' preference as of objective literary merit - if one allows the existence of such a thing.

Therefore, once the judges have been selected, they need to be left to get on with it. As long as their decisions are honestly arrived at - as I'm sure they were in this case - then there isn't much point in second-guessing them.

12 June 2008

Transported, not Transporter!

The things you never think of ... quite a few people seem to think my new book is called "Transporter" rather than "Transported". This post is to make it clear to everyone (including Google) that the title is Transported, and that it isn't a tie-in novel to the movie starring Jason Statham. There are slightly more explosions and car chases in Transporter than Transported.

In other news, the shortlists for the Montana Book Awards have been announced. It's good to see Johanna Aitchison's A Long Girl Ago included in the poetry category, and Mary McCallum's The Blue in the fiction category.

10 June 2008

Author Interviews at The Good Books Guide

Eric Forbes, who edits Quill magazine in Malaysia and blogs about books on The Good Books Guide, has made it his mission to interview (together with Tan May Lee) all the authors longlisted for the 2008 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. As part of that series, his interviews with me about Transported and with Elizabeth Smither about The Girl Who Proposed have now been posted on the site.

All the authors have been asked the same questions - the similarities and differences in their answers are fascinating!

One of the unexpected bonuses of this longlisting process for me is the opportunity to find out about so many fine short story writers throughout the world.

In other news: thanks to the New Zealand Book Council, you can Read at Work. It looks like an ordinary work PowerPoint - but look closer, and it's literature!

06 June 2008

Transported: 0 days to go - Enough Already / On National Radio Sunday 8 June

Enough already! Transported has been published. It will be in bookshops - Whitcoulls, Borders, Unity, Dymocks, Paper Plus, Parsons, and others - shortly, if it isn't already. You can buy it online from New Zealand Books Abroad (who, despite their name, also sell books within New Zealand) or Fishpond.

I'm going to finish sorting out the running order of JAAM 26 and catch up on housework. Then it will be back to working on my novel, and blogging about what really matters: Buffy Anne Summers, for example.

So, enjoy the silence.

Or not: following a day on which I twice darkened the doors of Radio New Zealand House, I will appearing twice on National Radio on Sunday 8 June! From 10.05 to about 10.30am, I'm taking part in the Sunday Group on Chris Laidlaw's morning show. We'll be discussing Peak Oil and the future of world oil supplies.

Then, some time between 2 and 2.30pm (all being well), I will wear another hat, appearing on "The Arts on Sunday" to discuss Transported with Lynn Freeman. Emily Perkins will be on the show as well.

Shortly after these shows, podcasts will be available, and I'll add links to them here.

UPDATE: A podcast of the Sunday Group discussion hasn't been made available, but the Transported interview is available in MP3 format (a two-minute excerpt from the book plus a seven-minute discussion).

FURTHER UPDATE: The Sunday Group discussion on Peak Oil and the future of oil supplies is now also available as a podcast in MP3 format (12.5MB, about 35 minutes).

05 June 2008

Transported: 1 day to go - Dedicated to Writing Groups

My previous books have been dedicated to individuals - my wife and son; my parents - but Transported is dedicated to the members of three writers' groups: the Writers’ Intensive Care Group (WICG) (Dunedin), the Phoenix Writers’ SIG (Wellington), and the Writing Crew (Wellington).

The reason for this dedication is that many of the stories in Transported received their first public airing in front of one of these groups, and that they have, at different times and in their different ways, provided me with a great deal of support as a writer - plus, I've made some really good friends in them .

WICG was the first writing group I joined, and I'm still a corresponding member - at least, when I visit Dunedin at the time a meeting of the group is on, I take great pleasure in attending one of the meetings, as I did a few weeks ago. WICG has always consisted of artists and musicians as well as writers, and in fact, it is now largely an artists' group - including some artists whose names are not yet widely known, but which should be! What I valued most from WICG was the encouragement it gave me at a time when I had little confidence in my writing.

When I moved to Wellington, I joined the Writers' Special Interest Group of the Phoenix Science Fiction Society - a group that has produced a number of writers who have gone on to significant success. I found that the Writers' SIG gave more detailed critiques than had WICG, but less encouragement - and, at that time, I had a thinner skin, so I found the critiques harder to take than I do now (he says, wondering if he is deluding himself ...)

I've already blogged about the Writing Crew, the group that came out of the 2003 Writing the Landscape course at Victoria (CREW 256, hence the name). We're not meeting regularly at the moment, as members disperse to various parts of the globe, but I hope we will again - and I keep in touch with many of the members in the meantime.

I was (am?) a little odd, because, for a long time, I found it easier to send my work off to editors I didn't know than show it to fellow writers. But, if you are a writer, then I encourage you to find a group of other writers who are prepared to met regularly, be honest - but not destructive - about each others' work within a framework of support and encouragement, and want to write and keep writing (or paint and keep painting!) and get better at it. If you already belong to such a group, formal or informal, you are in luck.

04 June 2008

Transported: 2 days to go - Getting Around

A lot of people, a lot of places, but what the stories in Transported have in common is that they all feature journeys of some sort - journeys ranging from a few hundred steps to many light years. Actually, all the stories in my first collection, Extreme Weather Events, include journeys as well. Could there be a theme emerging here?

The term "Transported" shouldn't be interpreted in purely physical terms - some of the characters are transported by love, others by envy, fear or greed - but in the book, characters:

travel by ferry
travel by jetboat
travel by tractor
run up and down the pitch
move house
take the train (to Lower Hutt; to the Finland Station)
fly into space
fly through space
fall in the pond
set the matter transmitter for the banks of the Dnieper
drive back home from kids' cricket
run the 100 metres in the school sports
run for their lives
set sail surreptitiously
drive a bulldozer
drive a Lotus 49T
fly in a plane
soar aloft on their pinions
plunge to earth
walk with a limp
dance (fast)
dance (slow)
drift in a dinghy
sail in a yacht
go out for a few quiets
climb to the top of the mountain
climb the walls
climb trees
jump in the water
wade in the sea
go under
hop to it, and
walk some more

No bikes, eh? Must try harder next time.

03 June 2008

Transported: 3 days to go - Places

My second index (or, more properly, concordance) of Transported: a selection of places visited or referred to in those 27 short stories – the bulk of them real. I have put these in roughly south to north order, but there’s a little east and west as well, so don’t sweat a few degrees here and a few degrees there.

McMurdo Base, the Wright Valley, Lake Vanda, Don Juan Pond

Punta Arenas, Patagonia

The Sandy Point Domain, Invercargill, the flat Southland plains (as twilight flows in), Gore, Queenstown, Wanaka, Rabbit Pass and the Waterfall Face (experienced trampers only), the Waiatoto River, Haast

Dunedin, Tomahawk, Smaills Beach (warning: footing uneven), Flagstaff, Taiaroa Head

Christchurch Airport, the Clarence River, the Seaward Kaikouras

Wellington, Miramar Island, Oriental Bay, Mount Victoria, the National Library of New Zealand (Rare Books Collection), the Basin Reserve, Island Bay, an imaginary tryline, the Loading Zone, the Angus Inn

Mana, Kapiti, Shannon, Palmerston North


Utley Terrace, Rosemont Primary

Canberra, Goulburn (which does little to break the monotony), Sydney, Dubbo, Parkes

Basseterre (capital of St Kitts)

Santa Fé, Gainesville, Quantico, Washington, DC, the East River, Wyoming

Thebes, Mount Athos

Exmoor, Porlock (a poor excuse)

Saxony (where exchange students come from)

Moscow (who lost 5-1), Gorky Park, Kazakhstan, Lake Baikal

The Finland Station, Murmansk, Magadan

The Northern Festival Circuit (Nuuk, Norilsk, Vorkuta, Longyearbyen)

The Valles Marineris (with robots running around)

Triton (a moon of Neptune; Samuel Delany got there first)

Felsen’s Planet (in the Arcturus sector)

The Virgo Cluster (fifty million light years away)

Looking at People and Places, I guess I could have called the book “Strangers and Journeys” – but that’s already been done.

02 June 2008

Transported: 4 days to go - People

To initiate the new discipline of "indexing for surrealists", here is a small selection of people (most real, some imaginary) namechecked in Transported.

George Gregan, Sheree (a Tier One poet), Miranda (a Tier Two poet), Carl Dooley (an ironmonger), V. I. Lenin, Arthur C. Clarke, Arkady Renko, Marilyn Manson (a musician), Bruce McLaren, M. Foucault (a philosopher), Lacan, Kristeva and Baudrillard (other philosophers), Wayne Foucault (a dairy farmer, brother of M.), Krystal (who's at yoga), Borges (a librarian), Senor Borges (a Distinguished Visitor), Billie Holiday, Alex Lindsay (and His Orchestra), Lisa Bryant (who put up an umbrella), Losi (an engineer), Mrs Masters (who died the other day), Mrs Parsons (a governess), Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Jacques (who thought he was a parrot), Cleve Cartmill (but not this one), H. P. Lovecraft, Sir Timothy Hyphen-Hyphen (a spy), Velimir Grushnikov (also a spy, but more sinister), and Trevor (from Hamilton)

01 June 2008

Transported: 5 days to go - Opening Paragraphs

Transported, my second short story collection, is published this coming Friday, the 6th of June. To whet your appetite, here are the opening paragraphs of five stories from the collection.

When She Came Walking

The first time she walked down our street, pots jumped off stoves, coal leapt from scuttles, wood went rat-a-tat-tatting down hallways. In our yard, a broom and spade got up and lurched around like drunks, trying to decide which way she’d gone.

The New Neighbours

High property values are the hallmark of a civilised society. Though our generation may never build cathedrals nor find a cure for cancer, may never save the whales nor end world hunger, yet we can die with smiles on our faces if we have left our homes better than we found them, if we have added decks, remodelled kitchens, and created indoor-outdoor flow.

Robinson in Love

Lisa gave Robinson a knife, a bowl, a chopping board, and three tomatoes. Later, she gave him lettuce, cucumber, and carrots. By the time he’d run out of ingredients, he had made a salad, and Lisa had cleared the table, split bread rolls, and set out slices of camembert and little pottles of dips and spreads. Robinson would have settled for Marmite.

The Wadestown Shore

I cut the engine in the shadow of the motorway pillars and let the dinghy drift in to the Wadestown shore. The quiet of late afternoon was broken only by the squawking of parakeets. After locking the boat away in the old garage I now used as a boatshed, I stood for a moment to soak in the view. The setting sun was winking off the windows of drowned office blocks. To the left lay Miramar Island, and beyond it the open sea.

Books in the Trees

As soon as I understood what a book was, I resolved to become a bookkeeper. To the dismay of my parents, I was forever climbing trees in hopes of catching an unwary volume. Of course, I never did; they were far above me, flapping unmolested from branch to branch.