Monday, July 28, 2008


I like the play on words employed for this popular NZ Listener column by Joanne Black which appears as the last feature in the magazine each week.

One if the subjects Joanne has written on this week (Listener August 2-8) is the Montana NZ Book Awards and here is what she has to say:

On Monday night I attended the Montana Book Awards.
As I find some aspects of New Zealand’s obsession with itself to be rather insular and a little too worthy, the highlight of the evening for me was MC Jennifer Ward-Lealand’s dress. Designed by Liz Mitchell it was perfect awards-night couture and brought glamour to an event which is, after all, a celebration of the pinnacle of creativity and achievement in one sphere of the arts.

Awards are always subjective. They are the opinions of judges who bring experience and expertise to their roles but whose views you may not necessarily share. I think it was Radio New Zealand’s Lynn Freeman, one of this year’s judges, who said that in the end reading was a relationship between a reader and a book. Each person’s personal experience will therefore be different, as will their opinion of what is good or interesting.

I used to devour fiction, but these days I prefer books on politics and economics, not least because they have fewer tales of harrowing childhoods and hardly anyone’s horse dies. However, from the book awards I will put Mary McCallum’s The Blue on my reading list, along with Judy Siers’ biography of James Walter Chapman-Taylor and Alan Clarke’s The Great Sacred Forest of Tane. For the rest, I’ll await the real consumer test – friends saying, “Oh, you really must read…”.

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