Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti poet, has passed aged 101

Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!” ― Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems

Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti, the founder of World-famous and hugely influential City lights Bookstore, has passed aged 101. Ferlinghetti and the City Lights Bookstore had close ties and associations with the American, radical, romantic and often perceived as hedonistic Beat generation.

Ferlinghetti disliked the association despite publishing the famous Howl and other poems by Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg was one of the three very different writers that came to epitomise the Beat movement the others being Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Each in their own way explored ideas of individual freedom, views on sexuality, and questioned the mainstream values and norms of the time such as ecological issues or the destructive ideas that underpin modern capitalism.

The Beat generation made many of these at the time minority views acceptable allowing them to percolate into mainstream culture and paved the way for the 1960s counterculture, and many of their ideas are now regarded as the norm today.

Ferlinghetti was also a poet (A Coney Island of the mind sold over one million copies), an artist and self-confessed Anarchist activist who avoided personal publicity and biographical details as much as possible. Often making up different versions of his past when asked. In later years the City Lights bookstore became a tourist attraction and a cultural focal point in San Francisco. So much so that the City proclaimed March the 23rd, his birthday, “Lawrence Ferlinghetti Day”.

We have a wide collection of Beat generation titles and even some City Light published books in our collection. For a small selection see below.


A Coney Island of the mind : poems / Ferlinghetti, Lawrence
“Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind has become a modern classic. It has been translated into nine languages and there are now three-quarters of a million copies in print. The title of this book is taken from Henry Miller’s “Into the Night Life” and expresses the way Lawrence Ferlinghetti felt about these poems when he wrote them during a short period in the 1950’s as if they were, taken together, a kind of Coney Island of the mind, a kind of circus of the soul.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Collected poems, 1947-1997 / Ginsberg, Allen
“The only volume of collected poems to cover the entire 50-year career of the poet “responsible for loosening the breath of American poetry at mid-century” (Helen Vendler). Here, for the first time, is a volume that gathers the published verse of Allen Ginsberg in its entirety, a half century of brilliant work from one of America’s great poets. The chief figure among the Beats, Ginsberg changed the course of American poetry, liberating it from closed academic forms with the creation of open, vocal, spontaneous, and energetic postmodern verse in the tradition of Walt Whitman, Guillaume Apollinaire, Hart Crane, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

On the road / Kerouac, Jack
“On the Road is the classic story of two characters who set off on an odyssey through 1950s underground America. On the Road chronicles Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent, from East Coast to West Coast to Mexico, with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The voice is all : the lonely victory of Jack Kerouac / Johnson, Joyce
” In The Voice is All, Joyce Johnson, author of her classic memoir, Door Wide Open, about her relationship with Jack Kerouac, brilliantly peels away layers of the Kerouac legend to show how, caught between two cultures and two languages, he forged a voice to contain his dualities. Looking more deeply than previous biographers into how Kerouac’s French Canadian background enriched his prose and gave him a unique outsider’s vision of America, she tracks his development from boyhood through the phenomenal breakthroughs of 1951 that resulted in the composition of On the Road, followed by Visions of Cody.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Cities of the red night / Burroughs, William S.
“While young men wage war against an evil empire of zealous mutants, the population of this modern inferno is afflicted with the epidemic of a radioactive virus. An opium-infused apocalyptic vision from the legendary author of Naked Lunch is the first of the trilogy with The Places of the Dead Roads and his final novel, The Western Plains.” (Catalogue)

Literary outlaw : the life and times of William S. Burroughs / Morgan, Ted
“Almost indecently readable . . . captures [Burroughs’s] destructive energy, his ferocious pessimism, and the renegade brilliance of his style.”–Vogue With a new preface as well as a final chapter on William S. Burroughs s last years, the acclaimed Literary Outlaw is the only existing full biography of an extraordinary figure. Anarchist, heroin addict, alcoholic, and brilliant writer, Burroughs was the patron saint of the Beats. His avant-garde masterpiece Naked Lunch shook up the literary world with its graphic descriptions of drug abuse and illicit sex and resulted in a landmark Supreme Court ruling on obscenity.” (Catalogue)

Women of the Beat generation : the writers, artists, and muses at the heart of revolution
“An anthology of the lives, writings and secrets of the women of the Beat Generation, this book contains biographies poetry and prose by Hettie Jones, Joyce Johnson, Ruth Weiss, Jan Kerouac, and others. It contains commentary by American poet of the year Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg.” (Catalogue)

The Beat Hotel : Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris, 1958-1963 / Miles, Barry
The Beat Hotel has been closed for nearly forty years. But for a brief period–from just after the publication of Howl in 1957 until the building was sold in 1963–it was home to Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Brion Gysin, Peter Orlovsky, Harold Norse, and a host of other luminaries of the Beat Generation. Now, Barry Miles–acclaimed author of many books on the Beats and a personal acquaintance of many of them–vividly excavates this remarkable period and restores it to a historical picture that has, until now, been skewed in favour of the two coasts of America.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The best minds of my generation : a literary history of the Beats / Ginsberg, Allen
“A unique and compelling history of the Beats, in the words of the movement’s most central member, Allen Ginsberg, based on a seminal series of his lectures In summer 1977, Ginsberg thought it was time for a literary history of what he, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and others had accomplished and designed a course he taught five times, first at the Naropa Institute and later at Brooklyn College. Compiled and edited by renowned Beat scholar Morgan, this book presents those lectures, complete with notes. .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The 2020 Booker prize winner has been announced

Shuggie Bain on our Catalogue

Rain was a natural state of Glasgow. It kept the grass green and the people pale and bronchial.

Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart

The 2020 Booker prize has been won by Scottish-American author Douglas Stuart with his debut novel Shuggie Bain.  He is only the second Scot ever to have won the prize — the first being James Kelman in 1994 with his book How Late It Was, How Late, which incidentally is a book Douglas cites as having “changed his life”.

Shuggie Bain is semi-autobiographical — set in 1980s Glasgow, it deals with some weighty issues including poverty, parental alcoholism and a young boy’s struggle to come to terms with his sexuality. It’s a challenging read written in an emotionally nuanced style, but it’s ultimately also a very compassionate read. Shuggie Bain was turned down by 30 editors before finding a publisher and going on to win the Booker.

Shuggie Bain / Stuart, Douglas
“It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest.” Also available as an eBook and an Audiobook (Summary adapted from Catalogue)


Below are a few other books set in Glasgow. Enjoy!


How late it was, how late. / Kelman, James
” “How Late It Was, How Late” opens one Sunday morning in Glasgow, Scotland, as Sammy, an ex-convict with a penchant for shoplifting, awakens in a lane and tries to remember the two-day drinking binge that landed him there. Then, things only get worse. Sammy gets in a fight with some soldiers, lands in jail, and discovers that he is completely blind. His girlfriend disappears, the police probe him endlessly, and his stab at Disability Compensation embroils him in the Kafkaesque red tape of the welfare system. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The cutting room / Welsh, Louise
“An auctioneer by profession, Rilke is an acknowledged expert in antiques. When he comes upon a hidden collection of violent, and highly disturbing, erotic photographs, Rilke feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them. What follows is a compulsive journey of discovery, decadence and deviousness.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Garnethill : a novel / Mina, Denise
” There the unlucky Maureen O’Donnell wakes up one morning to discover her therapist-boyfriend dead in the living room. She now finds herself the prime suspect in his murder. Maureen O’Donnell wakes up one morning to find her therapist boyfriend murdered in the middle of her living room and herself a prime suspect in a murder case. Desperate to clear her name and to get at the truth, Maureen traces rumors about a similar murder at a local psychiatric hospital, uncovering a trail of deception and repressed scandal that could exonerate her – or make her the next victim. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Buddha Da / Donovan, Anne
“Painter and decorator Jimmy McKenna develops  an keen interest in Buddhism after a chance meeting in a Glasgow sandwich bar with a Buddhist monk, but how will Jimmy’s family react to his new found faith and how will this new approach to life change Jimmy?”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Strange loyalties. / McIlvanney, William
Strange Loyalties begins with Jack Laidlaw’s despair and anger at his brother’s death in a banal road accident. But his nagging doubts about the dynamics of the incident lead to larger questions about the nature of pain and injustice and the greater meaning of his own life. He becomes convinced there is more to his brother’s death. His investigations will lead to a confrontation with his own past and a harrowing journey into the dark Glasgow underworld.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine / Honeyman, Gail
Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Pitch black / Gray, Alex
“The new DCI Lorrimer novel When Chief Inspector Lorimer returns from his holiday on the Isle of Mull, he feels a welcome sense of calm. But it doesn’t last long. Kelvin FC’s new midfielder is found brutally stabbed to death in his own home and, with his wife apprehended trying to leave the country, a seemingly straightforward new case begins.” (Catalogue)

Ask Ben Aaronovitch a Question!

We are very excited to announce that in October we will be doing a pre-recorded Question and Answer online event with the international bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch–and we need your help with the questions!

Ben Aaronovitch is one of the most popular science fiction and fantasy writers in the world today. His Rivers of London series has been translated into 14 languages worldwide, with every one of the novels becoming a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. Ben has been a screenwriter for Doctor Who, Casualty and has written spin-off novels for Doctor Who and Blake 7. His work has even been adapted into a fantastic graphic novel series.

So if you’ve ever wanted to ask Ben Aaronovitch a question, now’s your chance!

Simply send us your questions via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email and we’ll do our best to ask them during the event. And in the meantime, check out the selection of Ben’s work we have available to borrow throughout our libraries. Enjoy!

False value / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Peter Grant is facing fatherhood, and an uncertain future, with equal amounts of panic and enthusiasm. Rather than sit around, he takes a job with émigré Silicon Valley tech genius Terrence Skinner’s brand new London start up – the Serious Cybernetics Company. Drawn into the orbit of Old Street’s famous “silicon roundabout”, Peter must learn how to blend in with people who are both civilians and geekier than he is. But magic is not finished with Mama Grant’s favourite son.” (Adapted from  Catalogue)

The October man / Aaronovitch, Ben
“When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural. His aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger, and paperwork.” (Catalogue)

Foxglove summer / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London – to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can’t take the London out of the copper. Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods.” (Catalogue). Also available as an Audiobook. 

The furthest station / Aaronovitch, Ben
” Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter – making the follow up interviews rather difficult. So with a little help from Abigail and Toby the ghost hunting dog, Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition…” (Catalogue)

Lies sleeping / Aaronovitch, Ben
“The Faceless Man, wanted for multiple counts of murder, fraud, and crimes against humanity, is on the run. Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard, now plays a key role in an unprecedented joint operation to bring him to justice. But even as the unwieldy might of the Metropolitan Police bears down on its foe, Peter uncovers clues that the Faceless Man, far from being finished, is executing the final stages of a long term plan.” (Catalogue)

The hanging tree / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of Police Constable Peter Grant or the Folly–London’s police department for supernatural cases–even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the flats of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But the daughter of Lady Ty, influential goddess of the Tyburn river, was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favor. Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, a sensible young copper would keep his head down. But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.” (Catalogue)

Rivers of London [1] : body work / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Peter Grant, having become the first English apprentice wizard in fifty years, must immediately deal with two different but ultimately inter-related cases. In one he must find what is possessing ordinary people and turning them into vicious killers, and in the second he must broker a peace between the two warring gods of the River Thames.  The graphic novel is based on the bestselling novel “Rivers of London.” (Catalogue)

Rivers of London [2] : night witch / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Press-ganged into helping a Russian oligarch hunt his missing daughter, PC Peter Grant and his boss, Thomas Nightingale, London’s only wizarding cops, find themselves caught up in a battle between Russian gunmen, a monstrous forest creature – and their nemesis: The Faceless Man. But as Grant and Nightingale close in on the missing girl, they discover that nothing about this case is what it seems!” (Catalogue)

Nobel Prize for literature announced

In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.
― William Blake

The Nobel Prize for literature has just been announced recently and we were very pleased to see one of our favourite modern writers Olga Tokarczuk was one of the reciprocates. Known for her dreadlocked look, staunch ecological, feminist stances and lets not forget her mind expanding exceptional books.  Olga Tokarczuk  has courted controversy with Nationalist elements of her home country.  As her books have on occasion dealt with some of the uncomfortable moments in her countries past. Indeed her publishers have had to hire bodyguards to protect her from right wing threats.

Flights her book loosely about travel in all its forms, both to places beyond and within ourselves, propelled her to international fame and acclaim. It had taken ten years from the Polish publication of Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead  (her William Blake infused Eco thriller) to be translated into English. Her most recent work, The Books of Jacob a 1000 page historical epic, though published in Poland in 2014 and already winning Poland’s highest literary honour, will not be fully translated into English until 2021, her English translator saying she is working flat out to deliver it by then. Olga Tokarczuk recently pondered if her life would have been easier if her works had been translated into English earlier.

Both Flights and Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead are available to borrow from our libraries but alas unless you speak polish we, like everyone else, will have to wait till 2021 before we can get to read The Book of Jacob. Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverDrive your plow over the bones of the dead / Olga Tokarczuk ; translated from the Polish by Antonia Llyod-Jones.Server ErrorYour request could not be completed.Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel
” Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead takes place in a remote Polish village, where Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, she becomes involved in the investigation. Duszejko is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars, and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary) Also available as an eBook.

Syndetics book coverFlights / Olga Tokarczuk ; translated by Jennifer Croft.Flights
“Flights is a series of imaginative and mesmerising meditations on travel in all its forms, not only the philosophy and meaning of travel, but also fascinating anecdotes that take us out of ourselves, and back to ourselves.Olga Tokarczuk brilliantly connects travel with spellbinding anecdotes about anatomy, about life and death, about the very nature of humankind.  Many consider Tokarczuk to be the most important Polish writer of her generation and Flights is one of those rare books that seems to conjure life itself out of the air.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary. )Also available as an eBook.

Overdrive cover Poems, William Blake (ebook)
SELECTED AND INTRODUCED BY PATTI SMITH
William Blake is one of Britain’s most fascinating writers, who, as well as being a groundbreaking poet, is also well known as a painter, engraver, radical and mystic. Although Blake was dismissed as an eccentric by his contemporaries, his powerful and richly symbolic poetry has been a fertile source of inspiration to the many writers and artists who have followed in his footsteps. In this collection Patti Smith has collected together her personal selection of Blake’s poems, including the complete poems from the famous Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, to give a singular picture of this unique genius. (Overdrive description)

The 2019 Booker Prize winners are Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo!

To leave a whisper of myself in the world, my ghost, a magna opera of words.

― Bernardine Evaristo, The Emperor’s Babe

Just another day in the life of Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.  Or perhaps not, as judges break the rules to jointly award the two authors the 2019 Man Booker Prize! Both Atwood and Evaristo were hotly tipped to win, and judges said they just couldn’t come to a final call so they decided to break tradition and jointly award the prize. Congratulations both!

Syndetics book coverThe testaments / Margaret Atwood.
“** Joint winner of the  2019 BOOKER PRIZE **
“More than 15 years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot. At this crucial moment, the lives of three women converge. Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice–a woman who wields power through secrets.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary) Also available as an Ebook.

Syndetics book coverGirl, woman, other / Bernardine Evaristo.
“”** Joint winner of the  2019 BOOKER PRIZE **
“Teeming with life and crackling with energy – a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood. Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary) Also available as an Ebook. 

Author Talk: In Conversation with Liz Nugent and Kirsten McDougall

Join us for a special evening with two acclaimed storytellers who craft suspenseful tales centred on unforgettable protagonists.

Liz Nugent, who was named Irish Woman of the Year in Literature in 2017, chats to Wellington writer Kirsten McDougall about turning to psychological thrillers after a career in Irish radio and television, and the art of getting inside the heads of monstrous characters. Please note: this is a free event.

When: Thursday, 3 October
Where: Karori Library
What time: 6.30pm – 7.45pm

Liz Nugent has published three novels–Unravelling Oliver, Lying in Wait and Skin Deep–which have all been #1 bestsellers and have collectively won four Irish Book Awards. Lying in Wait was voted Readers’ Choice for the famed Richard and Judy Book Club.

In 2018, Kirsten’s second book Tess was a finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel and longlisted for the Acorn Prize for Fiction at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Toni Morrison: a Personal Reflection

After the recent death of Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, our fiction selector Neil reflects on his memorable meeting with the literary great.

Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88. Many years ago I had the great privilege of running a book signing event for one of her novels. What I best remember is the way she could communicate to her audience even the darkest of events with great humanity and compassion. Though it was a long time ago, I can still recall how her presence lit up the room and how the audience hung rapt on every word she said.

Born in 1931, she said to biographers “Storytelling was part of family life.” After gaining a master’s degree at Cornell University she started a teaching and editing career before publishing her first novel, The Bluest Eye in 1970. What followed was a remarkable stream of stunning works, with razor sharp dissections of slavery and racism and their consequences for individuals and society. She was awarded just about every literary award available, including the Nobel Prize, the French Legion of Honour and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In our ever more divided world, her messages about the corrosive power of racism and slavery are as powerful and important as they ever were. For more reflections on Toni Morrison, visit The Guardian tribute page.

Author Interview: Vogel Award-Winning Kura Carpenter!

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are New Zealand’s annual celebration of home-grown science fiction and fantasy, with awards covering books, dramatic presentations, fan publications and more. One of the most competitive categories is Best New Talent, and this year’s winner was Dunedin-based author Kura Carpenter!

Kura’s debut novel, The Kingfisher’s Debt, tells the story of Tamsin Fairchild, a translator who must team up with rookie cop Scott Gale to investigate the disappearance of a newborn baby. But this is no ordinary crime: beneath familiar New Zealand locations is a world rich in danger–and magic. Vogel Award judges described The Kingfisher’s Debt as “very cleverly set in an urban fantasy world overlaying (or underlying, depending on your perspective) Dunedin, New Zealand. The writing is crisp, the plot excellently designed and executed.”

We contacted Kura to discuss her writing process, the Vogel Awards and what it’s like to be a fantasy writer in New Zealand. For more on her writing check out her website, and for the full Sir Julius Vogel Awards list, click here. Enjoy!

You’ve described The Kingfisher’s Debt as urban fantasy–a genre combining both fantasy and mystery. How did elements of these two genres complement each other in the shaping of the story?

My story follows a typical mystery structure–crime discovered, investigation, clues revealed, case solved–but the world it’s set in is an alternative New Zealand where magic exists, but most regular people don’t encounter it, in much the same way that you don’t know anything about crime unless it directly touches your life.

The crime in my story is connected to the people who deal in magic, I guess maybe that’s what you mean by shape. The mystery and magic are interconnected. Without the magic, there would be no desire to try and steal it.

Reviews of The Kingfisher’s Debt have praised your descriptions of real-life locations–Dunedin’s midwinter darkness and the “80s kitsch of St Clair”. Were there many challenges in bringing this familiar world to the page?

None. Although I was going for a 90s vibe, so I guess I failed.

There has also been a lot of positive feedback about the characters in The Kingfisher’s Debt–their grittiness, unusualness and dialogue. How did the character of Tamsin–and her excellent first person perspective–come about?

She just popped into my head and I wrote down what she said.

I’m an introvert, I feel awkward meeting people, so I talk to myself all the time, practice conversations, that kind of thing. It’s probably the only benefit of anxiety, all the internal practice improves ones writing ability to capture ‘voice’.

Was it difficult to create a story with both past and present timelines? Was there much planning or re-drafting required with this?

No. I don’t plan, I’m a pantser, an intuitive writer, (which often surprises people who assume I must be a strict outliner). I’m just fortunate to have better than normal intuition for pattern and structure.

I’d come across the zipper-structure (alternating timelines) when reading a novel years ago, and after I’d written my first draft I realised that’s what I’d inadvertently created, it just needed some shuffling of scenes to get the timeline straight and make sure the subtext was as I wanted.

It’s always exciting to have a story that includes a library! You’ve previously worked in Dunedin City Library–what was it that drew you to the library as one of the locations in The Kingfisher’s Debt?

Yes. I’m lazy. It was the easiest thing to do, use locations I’m familiar with.

How do you feel about the fantasy writing scene in New Zealand at the moment? How do you think it might develop in the future, especially with WorldCon taking place in New Zealand next year?

That’s a hard one. On the one hand adult-reading level fantasy has been all but deserted by New Zealand’s traditional publishers, not for lack of talent, but because it’s simply not profitable. Talent wise I think the scene is stronger than it ever was. With the rise of self and indie publishing, has come a lot of opportunity.

While in many fields New Zealand punches above its weight internationally, for example film, sport, and even our P.M. is beloved globally, however when it comes to fantasy writing, we haven’t managed to carve out a spot beyond our borders.

Other New Zealand writers who write realist fiction consider what I write to be commercial and appealing to the masses, but because I’m not writing American or U.K. stories my story is actually non-commercial, it only has local appeal. WorldCon will shine a spotlight on us briefly, but the trouble ultimately remains that we’re a small market for telling our own stories, our own brand of fantasy. If we’re going to develop in the future then we must become leaders and not just followers.

Sir Julius Vogel Awards Announced!

Aotearoa/New Zealand has a long history of publishing exciting science fiction and fantasy, from Anno Domini 2000, or, Woman’s Destiny by former Prime Minister Sir Julius Vogel to The Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox to Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua by Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira.

Each year the best of this local sci-fi and fantasy is recognised at the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, with awards for novels, short stories, fan productions and more. This year the Vogels were announced at GeyserCon, the 40th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Rotorua. Congratulations to all the winners!

And next year things get even bigger. In 2020 the Vogels will be held as part of CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention–happening right here in Wellington. Guests include Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon, Greg Broadmore and toastmaster George R.R. Martin!

To get you started, we’ve got a list of past Vogel winners and finalists currently available in our collection. And for everyone who went to GeyserCon, we hope you had a great time!

Overdrive cover Fosterling, by Emma Neale (ebook)
“A young man is found unconscious in a remote forest. He is over seven feet tall, his skin covered in thick hair which reminds onlookers of an animal’s pelt. When he wakes in a city hospital, he is eerily uncommunicative. Speculation begins. Medics want to run tests on him, the media want to get his story, and the public want to gawp and prod. A moving, compelling story about society and our reactions to difference.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Dreamer’s pool : a Blackthorn & Grim novel / Marillier, Juliet
“In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help…” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The traitor and the thief / Ward, Gareth
“Discovered picking pockets at Coxford’s Corn Market, fourteen year old Sin is hunted across the city. Caught by the enigmatic Eldritch Moons, Sin is offered a way out of his life of crime: join the Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. At Lenheim Palace, Sin learns spy craft while trying not to break the school’s Cast-Iron Rules. Secrets, spies and steampunk gadgets abound in this fantastic adventure story!” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When New Zealand Defense Force Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left?” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Onyx javelin / Wheeler, Steve
“Move over Star Wars! This is a superb space opera… humans and hybrids and strange new creatures fighting for survival on Earth and across the galaxies. There is life everywhere throughout the Milky Way Galaxy. It takes forms that will astonish and frighten, that will challenge and terrify as they exist within the greater fight of existence: eat or be eaten. But who is the enemy really?” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Heartwood / Robertson, Freya
“Chonrad, Lord of Barle, comes to the fortified temple of Heartwood for Congressus peace talks, which Heartwood’s holy knights have called in an attempt to stave off war in Anguis. But the Arbor, Hearthwood’s holy tree, is failing, and because the land and its people are one, it is imperative the nations try to make peace.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

When we wake / Healey, Karen
“In 2027, sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl–playing the guitar, falling in love, and protesting the wrongs of the world with her friends. But then Tegan dies, waking up 100 years in the future as the unknowing first government guinea pig to be cryogenically frozen and successfully revived. Appalling secrets about her new world come to light, and Tegan must choose to either keep her head down or fight for a better future.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Dame Fiona Kidman discusses This Mortal Boy!

It’s not easy to win a New Zealand Book Award–and it’s even harder to win one on four separate occasions! But that’s exactly what Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize-winner Dame Fiona Kidman has managed to achieve, claiming an award in 1988, 2001, 2006 and now in 2019 with the fantastic This Mortal Boy.

This Mortal Boy is the story of Albert Black, the second-to-last man to be executed in New Zealand. Judges described it as a work that “pulls the reader into mid-century New Zealand–the restlessness of a new urban youth culture, the moral panic that led to the Mazengarb report, the damning assumptions of the legal profession and the unchallenged omissions that eased the pathway to a young man’s death.”

Wellington City Libraries recently had the pleasure of hosting Dame Fiona Kidman as part of our Mystery in the Library event at Karori Library, along with fellow authors Kelly Dennett, Kirsten McDougall, Jennifer Lane and Brannavan Gnanalingam. If you weren’t able to make it to this excellent event, never fear! You can now listen to it in its entirety via the podcast below–including Dame Fiona Kidman describing the process that brought This Mortal Boy to fruition. Enjoy!

Check out the shortlist for the 33rd Arthur C. Clarke award!

The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.” – Arthur C. Clarke

The prestigious Arthur C. Clarke award shortlist has just been announced. The award aims to honour the best science fiction novel of the year – 124 books were submitted and six have make the shortlist. The judges have selected a fantastically varied list from Simon Stålenhag’s graphic novel The Electric State to Ahmed Saadawi’s politically nuanced Frankenstein in Baghdad, as well as novels in the cyberpunk and military space opera genre. The judges will have a really tough time deciding who the final winner will be!

The 2019 Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist:


Semiosis / Sue Burke.
“Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches…and waits… Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet’s sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Also available as an ebook.

Syndetics book coverThe electric state / Simon Stålenhag.
“In late 1997, a runaway teenager and her small yellow toy robot travel west through a strange American landscape where the ruins of gigantic battle drones litter the countryside, along with the discarded trash of a high-tech consumerist society addicted to a virtual-reality system. As they approach the edge of the continent, the world outside the car window seems to unravel at an ever faster pace, as if somewhere beyond the horizon, the hollow core of civilization has finally caved in.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrankenstein in Baghdad : a novel / Ahmed Saadawi ; translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright.
“From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi — a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café — collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive–first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Also available as an ebook.

Syndetics book coverRosewater / Tade Thompson.
“Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless – people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers. Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again — but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Rosamunde Pilcher, international bestselling author has died

Rosamunde Pilcher had already written thirteen books before she became an international bestselling sensation with the Shell Seekers. Eventually the popular book was to be translated into forty languages, sit on best seller lists for an astonishing forty-nine weeks, sell over ten million copies and turn Rosamunde into an unlikely cult figure in Germany. She was credited for taking romantic fiction to a higher level injecting more realism and grittiness into the genre, and setting the benchmark for romantic fiction novelists. She retired from writing in 2000 after completing her final work Winter Solstice stating that she “wanted to stop while she was writing well”. She will be sorely missed by her legions of fans.

Syndetics book coverThe shell seekers / Rosamunde Pilcher.
“Artist’s daughter Penelope Keeling can look back on a full and varied life: a Bohemian childhood in London and Cornwall, an unhappy wartime marriage, and the one man she truly loved. She has brought up three children – and learned to accept them as they are. Yet she is far too energetic and independent to settle sweetly into pensioned-off old-age. And when she discovers that her most treasured possession, her father’s painting, The Shell Seekers, is now worth a small fortune, it is Penelope who must make the decisions that will determine whether her family can continue to survive as a family, or be split apart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWinter solstice / Rosamunde Pilcher.
“Elfrida Phipps loves her new life in the pretty Hampshire village. She has a tiny cottage, her faithful dog Horace and the friendship of the neighbouring Blundells – particularly Oscar – to ensure that her days include companionship as well as independence. But an unforeseen tragedy upsets Elfrida’s tranquillity: Oscar’s wife and daughter are killed in a terrible car crash. Oscar and Elfrida take refuge in a rambling house in Scotland which becomes a magnet for various waifs and strays who converge upon it, including an unhappy teenage girl.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

WCL’s Most Wanted of 2018

It’s that time of year for us to unveil the most wanted of 2018! Check out the top 10 most read books by the whole city of Wellington. Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s and Young Adult – here are your favourites.

Fiction

This year was all about thrillers for Wellington readers with Lee Child and John Grisham taking out 1st and 3rd place for most borrowed books, and newcomer A.J Finn sweeping in to take 2nd place for the most read fiction titles this year! For a fuller list broken down by genre and hand picked by our Fiction team check out ‘Ring out the old, ring in the new: the best novels of 2018!’.

Non-Fiction:

Drawn out takes the number 1 spot this year followed closely by Chelsea Winter’s and Dr Libby’s cookbooks coming in at 2nd and 3rd place. The top 10 was dominated by cookbooks with only few exceptions including the international best-seller Fire & Fury and local favourite Nikau Cafe by Kelda Hains.

Children’s

Children’s author Jeff Kinney takes out our number one place with his book the Last Straw and a further 7  places of our Top 10 this year, with popular children’s author Andy Griffiths managing to squeeze in for 2 spots taking out 6th and 10th place. For any parent this year’s top 10 will come as no surprise to see that the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and those multi-storied tree houses are as popular as ever!

Young Adult Fiction

Movie adaptions have dominated the Young Adult top 10 this year with 7/10 either out or coming out any minute included on the list, with classics classics like  The Fault in Our Stars and The Hunger Games remaining in the top 10 for another year! John Green’s new novel has taken the coveted number 1 spot though, with Mortal Engines following closely behind in second place spurred on by the upcoming release of Peter Jackson’s new action packed film and The Maze Runner taking out 3rd place.

Biographies

New Zealand author Diana Wichtel has taken the 1st place for Biographies 2018 with her book Driving to Treblinka with fellow NZ author Lilia Tarawa coming in 5th place with her book Daughter of Gloriavale. 2nd place went to the ever popular Educated : a memoir by Tara Westover with Shaun Bythell’s hilarious account The diary of a bookseller rounding out the top 3.

eBooks

Bestsellers dominated the eBook top 10 list this year with Margaret Atwoods The Handmaid’s Tale tand Lee Child’s The Midnight Line taking out 2nd and 3rd place respectively, but they couldn’t take the crown of 1st place from the charming little memoir Flat Broke with Two Goats from Jennifer McGaha, the only non-fiction book to make the ebook Top 10!

Overdrive cover Overdrive cover Overdrive cover

Stay tuned for the Best of 2018 – eLibrary edition… Coming Soon!

 

 

Iconic legend of the comic book world, Stan Lee, has died

Stan Lee, co-creator of some of the most famous super heroes ever: including Spider-man, The Hulk, The X-men, The Fantastic Four, Thor and the Black Panther died yesterday (12th November 2018). It is no exaggeration to say that the comic creations he helped bring to life changed the global entertainment world profoundly. Some of those characters have permeated just about every aspect of world culture. His larger than life public persona often appeared as cameos in Marvel Universe films.

He will be greatly missed but there is no doubt those creations he helped to form will go on.

R.I.P. Stan Lee.

Syndetics book coverAmazing fantastic incredible : a marvelous memoir / Stan Lee and Peter David and Colleen Doran.
“In this gorgeously illustrated, full-color graphic memoir, Stan Lee–comic book legend and cocreator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Incredible Hulk, and a legion of other Marvel superheroes–shares his iconic legacy and the story of how modern comics came to be.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpider-Man 2099 [6] : Apocalypse soon / Peter David, writer ; Will Sliney, artist.
“Spider-Man 2099 has learned the location of the headquarters of the Fist – the extremist anti-government offshoot of the Hand that put his fianc’e in a coma – and he’s ready to mount his attack! But it turns out that he’s not the only one investigating the radical group. Elektra Natchios, Marvel’s most deadly assassin, has her own reasons for hunting these terrorists. Can Miguel trust this mysterious newcomer, or is she yet another obstacle in his quest for vengeance?  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStan Lee’s How to draw comics : from the legendary creator of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Iron Man / Stan Lee.
Contents of this book include: A brief history of comic books . . . by a guy who lived them! — Tools of the trade — Form, perspective & foreshortening — The human head — Amazing anatomy, action & acting — Characters & costumes — Bring on the backgrounds — The life behind the layouts — Peerless penciling — Imaginative inking — Lively lettering — Crafting the color — Commanding covers — and Creating the comic book.

 

Anna Burns has won the 2018 Man Booker Prize

Anna Burns has won the 2018 Man Booker Prize with her unique take on the troubles in Northern Ireland.  Her novel Milkman has been praised for its distinctive voice and dark humour. She is the first Northern Irish writer to receive the prize. Its portrayal of a divided society in which a man uses these troubles to sexually pursue a young woman has been lauded. Anna Burns manages to deal with major, serious issues that can be found in many cultures in a common sense fashion that also contains elements of humour.

The book has been described as “incredibly original” by the Booker’s chair of judges, the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah. The novel’s themes whilst local also manage to cover the same experiences in a universal fashion. Anna Burns said of her life changing Booker win, “It’s nice to feel I’m solvent. That’s a huge gift.”

Milkman / Burns, Anna
“Written in a perfectly-rendered Irish vernacular Set in an un-named city but with an astonishing, breath-shorteningly palpable sense of time and place Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. The story of inaction with enormous consequences and decisions that are never made, but for which people are judged and punished.

Middle sister is our protagonist. She is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her nearly-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with milkman (which she herself for the life of her cannot work out how it came about). But when first brother-in-law, who of course had sniffed it out, told his wife, her first sister, to tell her mother to come and have a talk with her, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous…” (Catalogue)

Nobel prize winning author VS Naipaul dies aged 85

Nobel prize winning author V.S. Naipaul died over the weekend. He was acknowledged by all as a master story teller with a sharp eye for the human condition, but he was also a highly controversial figure — his statements on gender, race and Islamic culture were often extreme. He leaves behind a challenging and complicated body of work, his acknowledged masterpiece being A House for Mrs Biswas (link and synopsis below).

You can read obituaries for V.S. Naipaul at the links below:

Syndetics book coverA house for Mr Biswas / V.S. Naipaul ; with an introduction by Karl Miller.A House for Mr. Biswas
“In the comic masterpiece which established him one of the greatest writers in the English language, Naipaul follows the fortunes of Mr Biswas, the outsider who refuses to conform to the customs of his grander in-laws whose house he lives in. Finally finding a house of his own, he triumphs over the smaller minds who would repress him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist announced

The Water Cure book cover

…and the longlist includes a graphic novel!

So polish your reading glasses people, or if you’re not occularly enhanced, get comfy and prepare to join the judges’ dilemma of who wrote it better. Or with the most finesse, or used the most raw material. In short, which of these will be the one to grab you?

Author (country/territory) –  Title (imprint)
Belinda Bauer (UK) – Snap (Bantam Press)
Anna Burns (UK) –  Milkman (Faber & Faber)
Nick Drnaso (USA) – Sabrina (Granta Books) (Graphic Novel)
Esi Edugyan (Canada) – Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)
Guy Gunaratne (UK) – In Our Mad And Furious City (Tinder Press)
Daisy Johnson (UK) – Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)
Rachel Kushner (USA) – The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)
Sophie Mackintosh (UK) – The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)
Michael Ondaatje (Canada) – Warlight (Jonathan Cape)
Richard Powers (USA) – The Overstory (Willian Heinemann)
Robin Robertson (UK) – The Long Take (Picador)
Sally Rooney (Ireland) – Normal People (Faber & Faber)
Donal Ryan (Ireland) – From A Low And Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland)

There are some clear favourites amongst Wellington readers.  Warlight by Michael Ondaatje has been one of July’s most popular library lends.  Ondaatje recently received the Golden Man Booker for The English Patient.


Warlight / Ondaatje, Michael
“In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth.  A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.” (Catalogue)

The water cure / Mackintosh, Sophie
Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia, and Sky kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them – three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake.” (Catalogue)

Snap / Bauer, Belinda
“On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she’d said. I won’t be long. But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother… ” (Catalogue)

The overstory / Powers, Richard
The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond… There is a world alongside ours – vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In our mad and furious city / Gunaratne, Guy
“For Selvon, Ardan and Yusuf, growing up under the towers of Stones Estate, summer means what it does anywhere: football, music, freedom. But now, after the killing of a British soldier, riots are spreading across the city, and nowhere is safe. While the fury swirls around them, Selvon and Ardan remain focused on their own obsessions, girls and grime. Their friend Yusuf is caught up in a different tide, a wave of radicalism surging through his local mosque, threatening to carry his troubled brother, Irfan, with it. Provocative, raw, poetic yet tender, In our mad and furious city marks the arrival of a major new talent in fiction.” (Catalogue)

The long take : or, a way to lose more slowly / Robertson, Robin
“Walker, a young Canadian recently demobilised after war and his active service in the Normandy landings and subsequent European operations. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and unable to face a return to his family home in rural Nova Scotia, he goes in search of freedom, change, anonymity and repair. We follow Walker through a sequence of poems as he moves through post-war American cities of New York, Los Angles and San Francisco.” (Syndetics summary)
You can find this title in the Wellington City Libraries poetry collection.

Kamila Shamsie: Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018

Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018. The prize was previously known as the Bailey’s and the Orange Prize. The author is described as creating a book that “spoke for our times. Home Fire is about identity, conflicting loyalties love and politics.” Commended for her mastery, the book is written in five parts, each voicing their truth in the tale. Based on the struggles of Antigone who wrestled with loyalty to family or the ruling elite, this modern setting places characters sensitive to ethnicity, religion and ideologies. British Muslim characters, with family connections to extremism, face prejudice and personal dilemma in reaction to family, the state and justice.

Home fire / Shamsie, Kamila
“Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love? A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide – confirming Kamila Shamsie as a master storyteller of our times.” (Catalogue)

Pulitzer and Booker Prize-winning author Philip Roth dies aged 85

Syndetics book cover
Pulitzer and Booker Prize-winning author Philip Roth has died at the age of 85. Roth drew much of his inspiration from his Jewish background as well as his hometown of Weequahic in Newark, New Jersey. Over the course of his career he was lauded as one of America’s greatest–and most controversial–novelists, especially for his sexually explicit novel Portnoy’s Complaint which scandalised America and turned Roth into a major celebrity.

Roth wrote prolifically over the course of his career, which he self-consciously ended in 2009 after publishing more than 30 books and winning the Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 work American Pastoral. This body of work included several highly-acclaimed historical novels, however the question of identity, especially in the huge melting pot of America, was his lifelong writing obsession.

“Roth is an extremist. He loves to shock, to go beyond the limits of acceptability. That’s why he’s so funny. But it’s also why he’s not to everyone’s taste,” wrote author William Skidelsky in the Guardian in 2011.

Tom Wolfe, one of America’s leading literary figures, has died

Syndetics book coverSyndetics book coverThomas Kennerly Wolfe, one of America’s leading literary figures, born 2 March 1930, has died on 14 May 2018. He was perhaps best known for his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities which was about the fall of a young Wall Street trader. It is often described as the novel that defined the 80’s and turned Wolfe into a superstar author, a role he relished with his famous flamboyant suits. He was however very far from a one book wonder. The Right Stuff was his non-fiction account of America’s first manned space flights and was turned into a multiple Oscar winning movie. Likewise, his account of Ken Kesey and the merry pranksters’ LSD soaked voyage of discovery across America in the sixties came to be one of the books that defined the flower power generation in much the same way as The Bonfire of the Vanities did for the 80s.