Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
My Life in Six Drawers
by Sara Wheeler -
happiest moment of my life presented itself one cool February
afternoon in the Transantarctic Mountains, many years ago. I was
hiking up a valley. Fearful of losing my bearings, I stopped to fish
a USGS map from my pack and spread it on the ice. Tracing my route by
topographical landmarks (including an especially pointy mountain
glaciologists had baptized the Doesn’tmatterhorn), my finger came to
a straight line drawn with a ruler and marked “Limit of Compilation.”
Beyond that, the sheet was blank. I had reached the end of the map.
That moment flashed into my mind when my editor suggested a volume of
Selected Writings to ‘celebrate’ (ha!) my fiftieth birthday. I could
see the point. While my chief endeavor, in my work, has been books:
travel books, biographies, and a lumpy mix of the two, over the
decades there have been many hundreds of essays, reviews, and squibs,
written along the way for love and for money. So I emptied the six
cuttings drawers in my crammed office in north London -- and was
amazed at the yellowing clips that tumbled out. One of them told that
map story. I was happy to be reminded of it. How long ago it seemed.