Hiwa: Contemporary Māori Short Stories event

Recently at our Karori Library, in conjunction with Auckland University Press, we staged a very special celebration event for Hiwa: Contemporary Māori Short Stories with authors Whiti Hereaka (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa) and Jack Remiel Cottrell (Ngati Rangi).

Hiwa: Contemporary Māori Short Stories is a vibrant collection of contemporary Māori short stories, featuring twenty-seven writers working in English and te reo Māori. Edited by Paula Morris and consulting editor Darryn Joseph.

Photo of Whiti Hereaka(c)2021 Tabitha Arthur Photography

In this vibrant showcase of contemporary talent, Hiwa explores the range of styles and subjects in the flourishing world of Māori fiction. For our Karori event, we were honoured by the presence of two of the book’s contributors Whiti Hereaka (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa) and Jack Remiel Cottrell (Ngati Rangi)

Whiti Hereaka (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa) is an award-winning playwright, novelist and screenwriter. Whiti’s books include The Graphologist’s Apprentice, which was shortlisted for Best First Book in the Commonwealth Writers Prize South East Asia and Pacific 2011, Bugs which won the Honour Award, Young Adult Fiction, New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, 2014, Legacy, which won the award for Best Young Adult Fiction at the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and Kurangaituku, winner of  the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. When not writing multi award-winning books, Whiti is a barrister and solicitor. She has held a number of writing residencies and appeared at many literary festivals in Aotearoa and overseas.

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Our Interview with Little Doomsdays Creators, Nic Low and Phil Dadson

Little Doomsdays
Little Doomsdays by Nic Low and Phil Dadson on the library catalogue
Little Doomsdays by Nic Low and Phil Dadson

Little Doomsdays is a lavishly illustrated collaborative art book between musician/painter Phil Dadson and writer Nic Low. It’s the fifth in the ‘kōrero series’ of books, conceived and edited by Lloyd Jones.

In Little Doomsdays, legendary musician and painter Phil Dadson responds to a wildly innovative text by Ngāi Tahu writer Nic Low that’s steeped in te ao Māori. Together they play with the notion of ark and arc in a manner that is at once beguiling and challenging.

Nic Low, head and shoulders shot, against a brick wall backdrop
Nic Low

Nic Low (Ngāi Tahu) is the partnerships editor at NZ Geographic magazine and the former programme director of WORD Christchurch. A prize-winning author of short fiction, essays and criticism, his writing on wilderness, technology and race has been widely published and anthologised on both sides of the Tasman.

 

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Wellington Writers Walk: Dame Fiona Kidman

Dame Fiona Kidman

In the lead up to our Wellington Writers Walk 21st Anniversary Event at Karori Library this Saturday we’ve taken a closer look at Dame Fiona Kidman’s typographical sculpture, which features a quote taken from ‘Speaking with my Grandmothers’ in Writing Wellington, ed. Roger Robinson, Victoria University Press, 1999.

This town of ours kind of flattened
across the creases
of an imaginary map
a touch of parchment surrealism here
no wonder the lights
are wavering
all over the place
tonight
not a straight town at all.

In the video below, local authors and Wellington Writers Walk Committee members Philippa Werry and Maggie Rainey-Smith explain Kidman’s work, embedded in the sand at Freyberg Beach. They provide a fascinating insight into the pride Kidman feels about her sculpture, which celebrates her ancestry and deep connection to Wellington.

Join us at Karori Library on Saturday 13th May, 11am for a special event celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Wellington Writers Walk, featuring renowned authors Elizabeth Knox and Dame Fiona Kidman in discussion with fellow author and Writers Walk committee member Tanya Ashcroft. Together they will talk about the creation, history and future of this wonderful Wellington institution, and the part they’ve played in making the walk the much-loved success it is.

Please note we expect this event to be very popular and seating will be on a first come first served basis. A New Zealand Sign Language Interpreter will be present at this event.

Explore some of Dame Fiona Kidman’s books in our collection:


So far, for now : on journeys, widowhood and stories that are never over / Kidman, Fiona
“Evocative, wry and thought-provoking, this is a rewarding journey with one of our finest writers. It is a little over a decade since Fiona Kidman wrote her last volume of memoir. But her story did not end on its last page; instead her life since has been busier than ever, filled with significant changes, new writing and fascinating journeys. From being a grandmother to becoming a widow, from the suitcase-existence of book festivals to researching the lives and deaths of Jean Batten and Albert Black, she has found herself in new territory and viewed the familiar with fresh eyes. She takes us with her to Paris and Pike River, to Banff, Belfast and Bangkok, searching for houses in Hanoi and Hawera, reliving her past in Waipu and experiencing a stint in Otago. These locations and experiences – among others – have shaped Fiona’s recent years, and in this lively book she shares the insights she has picked up along the way.” (Catalogue)

All the way to summer : stories of love and longing / Kidman, Fiona
“Fiona Kidman’s early stories about New Zealand women’s experiences scandalised readers with their vivid depictions of the heartbreaks and joys of desire, illicit liaisons and unconventional love. Her writing made her a feminist icon in the early 1980s, and she has since continued to tell the realities of women’s lives, her books resonating with many readers over the years and across the world. To mark her 80th birthday, this volume brings together a variety of her previously published stories as well as several that are new or previously uncollected; all moving, insightful and written with love. The final stories trace her own history of love, a memoir of significant people from childhood and beyond.” (Catalogue)

This change in the light : a collection of poems / Kidman, Fiona
“Fiona Kidman’s exquisite and adroit poetry invites the reader into her life, introducing us to her family, friends and places she has loved. In turn it touches our own experiences, offering universal relevance and insight.” (Catalogue)

True stars / Kidman, Fiona
“Who is trying to scare Rose? This gripping novel is a vivid portrayal of New Zealand in the 1980s.Rose Kendall is alone. She is isolated from her children, her friends, and her political ideals, and there is someone trying to scare her – she doesn’t know why and she doesn’t know who.True Stars shows the tensions and divisions in 1980s New Zealand, which were echoed both on a national level and in family relationships, which were crystallised by the 1981 Springbok Tour, and which gnaw at differences in race, gender, class – and politics. It is a savage and often humorous novel set during the last months of the Lange Government. ‘With True Stars, Fiona Kidman has become the foremost chronicler of our times.’ – Roger Hall, The Dominion” (Catalogue)

Beside the dark pool / Kidman, Fiona
“In this sequel to At the End of Darwin Road, Fiona Kidman takes us through the writing of over twenty more books, of her involvement in New Zealand’s literary circles, her championing of writing and writers and the significant people she has met along the way.” (Catalogue)

Ricochet baby / Kidman, Fiona
“A moving novel, with intelligent and compassionate insight into post-natal depression and the complexities of relationships. ‘When Roberta falls pregnant her whole family is filled with joy.’ Fallen is not exactly how Roberta would describe it, for she and Paul have planned the baby and it has been conceived at exactly the time that they chose. But the birth itself is not as anyone chooses and the circles that radiate from this crisis affect everyone involved and change Roberta’s life, in particular, for ever. Moving and perceptive, full of intelligence and compassionate insights into the complexities of human relationships, this is a fine novel from one of New Zealand’s best writers. ‘In her craft of her storytelling and in her compassionate gutsy tough expression of female experience, she is the best we have.’ – NZ Listener” (Catalogue)

The book of secrets / Kidman, Fiona
“The true story of three women who lived in a community under the harsh leadership of Norman McLeod. The community had followed him from Scotland in 1817 to found a settlement in Nova Scotia and then moved on to New Zealand. Anyone who ran counter to McLeod was forced to live a life of secrets.” (Catalogue)

Where your left hand rests : a collection of poems / Kidman, Fiona
“‘This book is a treasure, in all senses of the word.’ – Nelson Mail An outstanding poetry collection by one of New Zealand’s leading writers. This collection of poems from Fiona Kidman bear all the hallmarks of her writing- acute observation, a telling eye for detail, a wry humour and great empathy. By turns tender, passionate, elegiac and amusing, the poems range over wide territory, from imagining her Scottish grandmother’s arrival in New Zealand, to wearing Katherine Mansfield’s shawl, to time spent in Greece and in her garden. “Superb poetry. A truly lovely little book.” – Metro” (Catalogue)

The infinite air / Kidman, Fiona
“Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn’t get enough of her; and yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper’s grave.” (Catalogue)

The captive wife / Kidman, Fiona
“A prize-winning historical novel that has become a New Zealand classic. Based on real events, this prize-winning novel is the compelling story of a marriage, of love and duty, and the quest for freedom in a pioneering age. When Betty Guard steps ashore in Sydney, in 1834, she meets with a heroine’s welcome. Her survival during a four-month kidnapping ordeal amongst Taranaki Maori is hailed as nothing short of a miracle. But questions about what really happened slowly surface within the elite governing circles of the raw new town of Sydney. Jacky Guard, ex-convict turned whaler, had taken Betty as his wife to his New Zealand whaling station when she was fourteen. After several years and two children, the family is returning from a visit to Sydney when their barque is wrecked near Mount Taranaki. A battle with local Maori follows, and Betty and her children are captured. Her husband goes to seek a ransom, but instead England engages in its first armed conflict with New Zealand Maori when he is persuaded to return with two naval ships. After her violent rescue, Betty’s life amongst the tribe comes under intense scrutiny.” (Catalogue)

Wellington Writers Walk: Elizabeth Knox

In the lead up to our Wellington Writers Walk Event at Karori Library we’ve taken a closer look at Elizabeth Knox’s typographical sculpture, which features a quote taken from ‘Provenance’, in ‘The Love School’ (2008).

The evening light concentrated, till the city and the
topped-up trembling horizon beyond Pencarrow Head would
begin to look like a seaport in someone’s lost paradise.

Listen to local authors and Wellington Writers Walk Committee members Philippa Werry and Maggie Rainey-Smith chat about Knox’s work along our author-lined waterfront. Knox’s words are subtly embedded underfoot, on the boardwalk between Shed 13 and Michael Tuffrey’s giant kina sculpture at Kumutoto Wharf. Capturing the light and shining up at passersby, the sculpture pays tribute to the significant contributions Knox has made to New Zealand’s contemporary writing scene.

Join us at Karori Library on Saturday 13th May, 11am for a special event celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Wellington Writers Walk, featuring renowned authors Elizabeth Knox and Dame Fiona Kidman in discussion with fellow author and Writers Walk committee member Tanya Ashcroft. Together they will talk about the creation, history and future of this wonderful Wellington institution, and the part they’ve played in making the walk the much-loved success it is.

Please note we expect this event to be very popular and seating will be on a first come first served basis. A New Zealand Sign Language Interpreter will be present at this event.

Explore some of Elizabeth Knox’s books in our collection:


The love school : personal essays / Knox, Elizabeth
“Culled from two decades of nonfiction writing from an original and much-celebrated author, these essays tell the story of important moments and experiences in Elizabeth Knox’s life. From her first literary efforts as a child to the jobs she took to support herself so she could write, these writings provide a brilliant and personal look into the life of an internationally successful writer. Displaying the vivid and rich qualities for which Knox is renowned, these works reveal the process through which Knox creates as well as the purpose behind her work.” (Catalogue)

The Angel’s Cut / Knox, Elizabeth
“A sequel to her award-winning bestseller The Vintner’s Luck, The Angel’s Cut is an evocative and wildly romantic new novel from Elizabeth Knox. Boomtown Los Angeles, 1929: Into a world of movies lots and speakeasies comes Xas, stunt flier and wingless angel, still nursing his broken heart, and determined only to go on living in the air. But there are forces that will keep him on the ground. Forces like Conrad Cole, movie director and aircraft designer, a glory-seeking king of the grand splash who is also a man sinking into his own sovereign darkness. And Flora McLeod, film editor and maimed former actress, who sees something in Xas that no-one has ever seen before, not even God, who made him, or Lucifer, the general he once followed — Lucifer, who has lost Xas once, but won’t let that be the end of it.” (Catalogue)

Wake / Knox, Elizabeth
“One sunny spring morning the Tasman Bay settlement of Kahukura is overwhelmed by a mysterious mass insanity. A handful of survivors find themselves cut off from the world, and surrounded by the dead. As they try to take care of one another, and survive in ever more difficult circumstances, it becomes apparent that this isn’t the first time that this has happened, and that they aren’t all survivors and victims-two of them are something quite other. And, it seems, they are trapped with something. Something unseen is picking at the loose threads of their characters, corrupting, provoking, and haunting them. Wake is a novel about what it really means to try to do one’s best, about the choices and sacrifices people face in order to keep a promise like “I will take care of you.” It is a novel that asks: What are the last things left when the worst has happened? and about extreme events, ordinary people, heroic compassion-and invisible monsters. An invisible…” (Catalogue)

An unreal house filled with real storms / Knox, Elizabeth
“Elizabeth Knox discusses the process of writing her memoirs as a recipient of the Michael King Fellowship.” (Catalogue)

Black oxen / Knox, Elizabeth
Black Oxen is the story of Carme Risk’s pursuit of her beautiful and not quite human father through two worlds and three changes of identity. In her forties, in the year 2022, Risk has entered narrative therapy. Her memories and her father’s journal take her from the Eden of her earliest childhood to dusty, poor Lequama, a Latin American country, where she and her father become involved with the slightly mad young leaders of a recent revolution and where everyone seems to practice black magic – and, finally, to life in Northern California, where Risk, still in thrall to her elusive father, is now the widow of Lequama’s most notorious torturer.”  (Catalogue)

Billie’s kiss / Knox, Elizabeth
“In the spring of 1903, a ship explodes as it docks on a remote Scottish island, drowning many of the passengers and crew in the icy waters of the harbor. Young, pink-haired Billie Paxton is among the only survivors. Clumsy, illiterate, and suddenly alone, she will not say why, moments before the explosion, she leapt from ship to shore – and so she falls under the immediate suspicion of her fellow passenger, Murdo Hesketh, who is determined to discover the truth behind the ship’s fate. As she attempts to come to terms with an uncertain future, Billie acquaints herself with the eccentric inhabitants of Kiss Castle: the enigmatic Lord Hallowhulme, who owns the island; his beautiful wife and worldly children; Geordie Betler, a spinsterish gentleman’s gentleman; and the fierce, fair-haired Murdo Hesketh, who inspires in Billie equal amounts of rage and passion.” (Catalogue)

Daylight / Knox, Elizabeth
“Set on the Mediterranean coast from Avignon to Genoa, Daylight begins with the discovery of a body in a flooded cave. Is she connected to the story of Martine Raimondi, a WWII resistance heroine and martyred nun?” (Catalogue)

Paremata / Knox, Elizabeth
“Paremata summons up with diamond-bright particularity of detail, a place, the coastal suburb north of Wellington, and a time, the summer of 1969. It is a powerful and affecting story about transition, about codes being broken, sexuality, the vulnerability and the toughness of the charged world of children. Around this world move the figures of the adults, sometimes shadily – as in the case of the mysterious Pavel – and always on the outside.” (Catalogue)

The vintner’s luck / Knox, Elizabeth
“One summer night in 1808, Sobran Jodeau sets out to drown his love sorrows in his family’s vineyard when he stumbles on an angel. Once he gets over his shock, Sobran decides that Xas, the male angel, is his guardian sent to counsel him on everything from marriage to wine production. But Xas turns out to be a far more mysterious character. Compelling and erotic, The Vintner’s Luck explores a decidedly unorthodox love story as Sobran eventually comes to love and be loved by both Xas and the young Countess de Valday, his friend and employer at the neighboring chateau.” (Catalogue)

After Z-hour / Knox, Elizabeth
“Stranded by a South Island storm, six people usurp the stillness of an old house. As they tell the fragments of their story, a seventh voice responds: a young New Zealand serviceman who died in 1920 soon after his return from France. As the storm deepens, the hauntings of the mind and the hauntings of the house become one”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

The absolute book / Knox, Elizabeth
“Taryn Cornick believes that the past is behind her – her sister’s death by violence, and her own ill-conceived revenge. She has chosen to live a life more professional than personal. She has written a book about the things that threaten libraries – insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring. The book is a success, but not all of the attention it brings her is good. There are questions about a fire in the library at Princes Gate, her grandparents’ house, and about an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter. A policeman, Jacob Berger, has questions about a cold case. There are threatening phone calls. And a shadowy young man named Shift appears, bringing his shadows with him. Taryn, Jacob, Shift – three people are driven towards a reckoning felt in more than one world.” (Catalogue)

Mortal fire / Knox, Elizabeth
“When sixteen-year-old Canny of the Pacific island, Southland, sets out on a trip with her stepbrother and his girlfriend, she finds herself drawn into enchanting Zarene Valley where the mysterious but dark seventeen-year-old Ghislain helps her to figure out her origins”–Publisher information. Suggested level: secondary.” (Catalogue)

Risk anything! Remembering Katherine Mansfield on the centenary of her death

Katherine Mansfield, backdropped against Wellington harbour, with a photo of book by Redmer Yska 'Katherine Mansfield's Wellington"

Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you

Katherine Mansfield

Below is a blog and book list by Louise, one of our librarians, remembering Katherine Mansfield on the centenary of her death. Louise talks about her wide influence as a New Zealand writer and her connections to Karori and to our city, as well as a recent Wellington City Libraries connection…

Katherine Mansfield
Archives New Zealand, ref Reference: ABKH W4437 NF 316. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

On my shelf sits a ragged and much-loved Penguin edition of the Collected Works of Katherine Mansfield given to me by my parents in 1986 when I was 17.  I consumed and adored this book. Mansfield’s writing was delicate but strong, subtle, with a focus on stream-of-consciousness and (that gem of a phrase from high school English) reflected a ‘slice of life’. And she was a New Zealander like me! I was inspired and enriched immediately.

I took this book with me on a six-week language exchange to Tahiti between sixth and seventh form. I was horribly homesick, and somehow the representations of New Zealand (to me often containing a pang of her own homesickness) and the tiny worlds she created in a few pages were soothing and beautiful, even when describing sadness and cruelty. The Doll’s House remains affecting nearly 40 years after I first read it. That summer was the start of my great love for Katherine Mansfield who challenged the literary world with her modernity (both in writing and her approach to life) and left a legacy that drew admiration from the likes of her contemporary Virginia Woolf right through to the Italian great Italo Calvino. My heart always sings when I am reading about a writer and they mention Mansfield as an influence – she is still relevant today and her writing continues to fascinate and entertain.

Karori Library has some of our vast collection on her life and works on displayThis week marks the centenary of her death, at the young age of 34, on 9 January 1923 in Avon-Fontainebleau, France. I now work at the Karori Library, near the corner of Beauchamp Street, named for Mansfield’s family who lived in Karori at the time of her birth. We have a new courtyard outside the library and there is a line from her short story Prelude in relief on one of the walls: “And then at the first beam of sun the birds began”, very apt for the start of a day near Zealandia. This week we have a display in the library commemorating her death. This morning, when I went to get a coffee at the cafe next door to the library I saw a man at the counter with a book he had just borrowed from our display. I told him I was writing a blog about Katherine Mansfield and he told me his name was Phil and that he had attended Karori Normal School where there was a memorial to Mansfield. Having seen our display, he thought it was about time he read some of her stories. I love the idea of Phil sitting in a cafe in Karori reading Mansfield’s stories in the suburb of her birth as we commemorate her life and death in Europe.

Wellington City Libraries has a strong connection to Katherine Mansfield and you can read about the discovery of a previously unknown short story, His Little Friend, by a then 11-year-old Kathleen M. Beauchamp (her given name), which was published on the children’s page of the New Zealand Graphic on 13 October 1900 and found a few years ago in our collection by our New Zealand History Specialist Gabor Toth and the Wellington writer Redmer Yska.

We have many items by and about Katherine Mansfield in our collections. Her writing sparks and her life was fascinating, intersecting with many interesting characters such as Maata Mahupuku, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Bertrand Russell, and Dora Carrington. See below for just a few items that we recommend from and about an author who wrote: “To be alive and to be a ‘writer’ is enough”:


Bliss: and other stories / Mansfield, Katherine
” This edition includes a modern introduction and a list of suggested further reading. Bliss and Other Stories represents the range of themes and concerns for which Katherine Mansfield is known. Besides the great number of marriage and couple’s narratives, this collection also includes “woman alone” stories about unmarried women exploring hopes, dreams, trials, and fears. Mansfield’s greatest skill is her ability to capture accurately the tender life of the human psyche and soul. ” (Adapted from our catalogue)

A strange beautiful excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington, 1888-1903 / Yska, Redmer
“How does a city make a writer? Described by Fiona Kidman as a ‘ravishing, immersing read’, this is a ‘wild ride’ through the Wellington of Katherine Mansfield’s childhood. From the grubby, wind-blasted streets of Thorndon to the hushed green valley of Karori, author Redmer Yska, himself raised in Karori, retraces Mansfield’s old ground: the sights, sounds and smells of the rickety colonial capital, as experienced by the budding writer” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Katherine Mansfield’s New Zealand / O’Sullivan, Vincent
“A stunning, fully illustrated guide to the country and times that shaped our greatest short story writer — a feast of images and relevant excerpts from Mansfield’s stories and journals. Katherine Mansfield was born in Wellington in 1888 and died in France in 1923, regarded as one of the finest short story writers of her time. Her country of birth, initially a source of frustration for her, in time came to influence her writing. From Kezia’s Karori journey in Prelude, to the landscape of The Woman at the Store, the images of colonial New Zealand are a distinctive and compelling part of Katherine Mansfield’s writing. A fascinating section of the book details her expedition to the Urewera and thermal regions. The first (monochrome) edition of Katherine Mansfield’s New Zealand appeared in 1974; this edition has been extensively revised, with colourful new images and vivid excerpts from Katherine Mansfield’s writing.” (From our catalogue)

Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf : a public of two / Smith, Angela
“Long after the death of Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) described being haunted by Mansfield in dreams. Through detailed comparative readings of their fiction, letters, and diaries, Smith explores the intense affinity between the two writers. Their particular inflection of modernism is interpreted through their shared experience as `threshold people’, familiar with the liminal, for each of them a zone of transition and habitation. Writing at a time when the First World War and changing attitudes to empire problematized boundaries and definitions of foreignness, we see how the fiction of both Mansfield and Woolf is characterized by moments of disorienting suspension in which the perceiving consciousness sees the familiar made strange, the domestic made menacing.” (From our catalogue)

The Bloomsbury Handbook to Katherine Mansfield / Martin, Todd (EDT)/ Keuss, Jeff (EDT)
“Through her formally innovative and psychologically insightful short stories, Katherine Mansfield is increasingly recognised as one of the central figures in early 20th-century modernism. Bringing together leading and emerging scholars and covering her complete body of work, this is the most comprehensive volume to Mansfield scholarship available today. The Bloomsbury Handbook to Katherine Mansfield covers the full range of contemporary scholarly themes and approaches to the author’s work, including: New biographical insights, including into the early New Zealand years, responses to the historical crises: the Great War, empire and orientalism, Mansfield’s fiction, poetry, criticism and private writing, Mansfield and modernist culture – from Bloomsbury to the little magazines, her contemporaries – Woolf, Lawrence and von Arnim, Mansfield and the arts – visual culture, cinema and music. The book also includes a substantial annotated bibliography of key works of Mansfield scholarship from the last 30 years.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

New Zealand stories / Mansfield, Katherine
“Katherine Mansfield is New Zealand’s most celebrated writer, and one of the key figures in the history of the short story in English. This is the first time the stories set in her own country have been brought together and published in the order in which she wrote them. The Mansfield that emerges from this fresh perspective is both familiar and unexpected.” (From our catalogue)

Something childish and other stories / Mansfield, Katherine
“A collection of stories that span the length of Katherine Mansfield’s writing career.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

The Literary Legacy of Max Cryer

Max Cryer was many things in his life: a television personality, a musician, and a notable author. Some of his favourite topics to write about were cats and the history of words and phrases, especially New Zealand words. In honour of Cryer’s recent passing at the age of 86, here is a round-up of some of his most notable books:

The Godzone dictionary of favourite New Zealand words and phrases / Cryer, Max
“The Godzone Dictionary is a concise A – Z of the words and phrases that make our New Zealand language and speech patterns so different. Language expert Max Cryer examines a wide range of words and phrases, shedding light on their origin and offering helpful definitions. Slang words and expressions feature heavily, while one of the unique features of this book is the large number of Māori words that have become part of our common language in recent years.”–Publisher information.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Curious English words and phrases : the truth behind the expressions we use / Cryer, Max
“‘Cloud nine’, ‘at the drop of a hat’, ‘spitting image’, ‘mollycoddle’, ‘rigmarole’, ’round robin’, ‘spill the beans’, ‘kick the bucket’, ‘balderdash’ and ‘touch wood’. There are so many curious words and phrases that we often use and yet haven’t you ever wondered why we say them, where they come from and what they mean? Written by language expert Max Cryer, Curious Words and Phrases has all the answers behind some of the most interesting and perplexing words and expressions in the English language.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

The cat’s out of the bag : truth and lies about cats / Cryer, Max
“In this book Max Cryer celebrates cats and all they have given to us. He describes the many words and expressions they have inspired, from ‘catnip’ and ‘catwalk’ to ‘the cat’s whiskers’ and ‘raining cats and dogs’, as well as famous cat characters like Garfield, Felix the Cat, The Cat in the Hat and Puss in Boots, songs as varied as ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ and ‘The Cats’ Duet’, and poems like ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ and ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’. In other chapters he explores cats’ attributes, the strength of their night vision and sense of smell, their sleep requirements, life expectancy and much more.”–Publisher information”. (adapted from catalogue)

 

Is it true? : the facts behind the things we have been told / Cryer, Max
“In this revealing book, Max Cryer explores the truth or otherwise of facts and beliefs we may have always been told are true, but which on closer examination may not be. In a wide-ranging book encompassing social history, language, music, politics, food, sport, the natural world and much more, we discover the truth behind some of our most cherished beliefs. For example: Do St Bernard dogs really carry brandy? Does Santa Claus come from the North Pole? Did Winston Churchill coin the term ‘Iron Curtain’? ‘OK’ is an American expression, right? Tulips come from Holland, don’t they?” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Every dog has its day : a thousand things you didn’t know about man’s best friend / Cryer, Max
“Every Dog Has Its Day’ is a unique collection of extraordinary stories, feats and facts that will both inform and entertain. Written with a delightfully light touch, Max Cryer dispels some myths about dogs and confirms why they occupy such a special place in our lives.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Curious English words and phrases : the truth behind the expressions we use / Cryer, Max
“Have you ever wondered where terms like ‘Angostura bitters’ and the ‘green room’ come from? Or why we call some people ‘lounge lizards’ and others ‘sugar daddies’? These are just a few of the words and phrases that language expert Max Cryer examines in this fact-filled new book. He explains where such colourful expressions come from, what they mean and how they are used. Along the way he tells a host of colourful anecdotes and dispels quite a few myths too.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Preposterous proverbs : why fine words butter no parsnips / Cryer, Max
“Max Cryer looks at a vast array of proverbs from around the world. He has chosen some of the most interesting and perplexing, and with his characteristic wry wit he analyses their meaning and truth. A great book to dip into, Preposterous Proverbs will take you from Greece (‘A thousand men cannot undress a naked man’) and China (‘A dry finger cannot pick up salt’) to Japan (‘Fools and scissors must be carefully handled’) and India (‘A fat spouse is a quilt for the winter’)”–Publisher information.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Who said that first? : the curious origins of common words and phrases / Cryer, Max
“We might think we know who first said ‘famous for fifteen minutes’, ‘annus horribilis’, ‘the cold war’ and ‘let them eat cake’, but Max Cryer has a surprise or two in store for you. In this very readable book, Max Cryer explores the origins of hundreds of expressions we use and hear every day – and comes up with some surprising findings.” (Catalogue)

 

In praise of cats / Cryer, Max
“Did you know that the Bible does not mention cats at all? Do you know where the word caterpillar comes from? Why do we think cats have nine lives? How much of our great literature refers to cats–and what do authors say? These are the questions that many cat owners have pondered at one time or another. At last, all the cat references in our language have been gathered in one place to provide a informative, fun, and comprehensive resource on the feline species–it’s the cat’s pyjamas.” (Catalogue)