The baby seal book club
New comics anthology Faction is a rarity in New Zealand. Not only is it independently produced by New Zealanders with Kiwi talent, it's shiny, full-colour and unapologetically professional.
The first Faction was launched at the start of this year after a long-running funding campaign on the crowd-funding platform PledgeMe, and the second issue came out last month.
Digital copies are free to download at Faction's website:
I decided I had to hear more about this publication after buying a copy of each issue on a whim, and being blown away by the quality.
I spoke with artist Damon Keen, who co-edits the title with Amie Maxwell about the work, the creative process and the "talented bastards" behind it all.
I’ve often thought that as a community, New Zealand writers are preoccupied with the sea. It’s not hard to understand why, either – we live in a long, skinny country surrounded by few islands and deep ocean.
There’s something about the sea that draws attention towards it. It’s difficult to stand next to the sea and not look at it, and its many moods invite consideration in almost the same way a particularly inscrutable person might.
Kiri Piahana-Wong’s night swimming represents an extended look at this idea. After compiling the poems over 15 years, she released the collection through her own company, Anahera Press, in May.
Piahana-Wong quotes an early reader as saying ”night swimming is well-named as in this collection the poet is swimming through the darkness attempting to illuminate it with language.”
The poems are quiet – there’s no literary pyrotechnics here, but there is a comfortable relatability spread throughout. The theme of water and sea runs through even the most domestic of them.
The blossom trees are out with a flourish along the banks of the Maitai River, the daffodils are in full bloom and the magnolia in my backyard is trying its level best to catch up. It must be nearly time for the Nelson Arts Festival.
I’ll let other folks with more of a taste for theatre, dance, music and improv guide you through the majority of the programme, but most of what I’m really looking forward to can be found in the Page and Blackmore Readers and Writers festival.
Here follows a whimsical and completely subjective list of events I’m keen to see:
2.30pm, October 19, Granary Festival Cafe. Kate de Goldi – The 10pm Question and more.
I thought The 10pm Question was a very kind, generous sort of novel, and The ACB with Honora Lee is no different. Last year I really enjoyed Jacquetta Bell’s excellent conversation-style public author interviews and as de Goldi is an experienced speaker already, I think she’ll be able to verbally bounce off Jacquetta to great effect.
5pm, October 25, Suter Theatre. Wearable Art - 25 years on.
Coming from Wellington to Nelson, I really should have my Wearable Arts game sorted by now. I’ve met the former CEO, been to the Wearable Arts Museum in Tahunanui multiple times to interview people about their creations, and shared a flat with a former entrant, but not once have I ever made it past the museum foyer.
A crash course in the history of the Wearable Arts with WOW CEO Meg Matthew and Craig Potton Publishing’s Robbie Burton could be just what the doctor ordered.
1pm, October 26, Granary Festival Cafe. Marti Friedlander – Self Portrait.
In high-school, I was lucky enough to take a photography class before digital SLR cameras became cheap enough to give to teenagers. Instead, we were all taught to shoot with black and white Fuji film that we clumsily extracted and wound on to developing reels in pitch darkness, then processed ourselves.
In terms of chemical-stained uniforms, time wasted and strange moods experienced after spending hours listening to Smashing Pumpkins in a small darkroom lit with red bulbs, my final photoboard wasn’t quite worth it, but the whole experience was priceless.
Marti Friedlander worked with similar materials and the same laborious process throughout her long life to produce iconic, timeless images of New Zealand. She’s a legend, and she will be right here in Nelson to tell us her story.
This week, I broke the habit of a lifetime and took a book to work with me.
I had no intention of reading it until knock-off time, but I just wanted it on my desk so I could keep an eye on it. In the quiet moments I picked it up and had a flick through the pages, but I was careful to avoid looking too long at any of the words or chapter headings in case I got sucked in.
Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves can have that effect, if you’re not looking out.
Published in 2000, Danielewski’s debut novel is part academic satire, part literary horror and part romance.
It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of a narrative, twisting its way through the words of multiple narrators; letters; different-coloured words; photographs; extracts from both real and nonexistent texts; multiple languages; footnotes; footnotes to other footnotes and some extremely creative takes on typography.
I had barely heard of Nalini Singh before I picked up one of her books, but it turns out she is one of New Zealand's most popular exports.
The Mt Roskill-based romance author is a regular on the New York Times bestseller list, having published more than 30 books since 2003. She first had success with US publishing house Silhouette before breaking into the mainstream Kiwi market around 2010.
One of her books jumped out at me from the science fiction shelf at Nelson Library last week. I thought the curly title font, David Beckham-esque cover image of a pouting male model and odd little marketing flourishes on the back made it look a bit suspect, but I had a clear memory of somebody recommending I read Singh's work.
Whoever it was, they must have sounded confident because despite my misgivings, I went off to find the first two issues in this flamboyant-looking series and took them home.
An hour later, I sent a Facebook message to a friend who often tips me off about new science fiction titles.
Blog terms and conditions
You're welcome to post in the comments section of our blogs. Please keep comments under 400 words. When submitting a comment, you agree to be bound by our terms and conditions.