Arrowtown book buyer Miranda Spary continues her regular
column about her recommendations for a good read, and life as
she sees it ...
Bula from Fiji!
It is a funny feeling being here at this time of the year
when normally the Christmas chaos in the Wakatipu is
happening and on top of that, the garden is doing its crazy
let's get growing thing, so with weeding and mowing and going
to end-of-year parties and town starting to fill up, there is
little time to sit and do nothing.
Here is the opposite! If there is one place in the world to
relax, Fiji is it. I go to a lot of yoga here, and I cannot
help smiling when the teachers tell the class to slow down,
calm the mind and just ... relax. Any more relaxed, and
things could get dangerous!
The NZ High Commission staff here call it a 5kg posting - it
is too hot to do too much exercise and everyone lingers over
meals so there is always the temptation to eat a little more
than you need to.
Some Australian friends who live here picked us up last night
to take us to our mututal friends' place for dinner. We were
a little bit late and to get to their house we had to go past
a security guard at the gate to the precinct. The guard asked
which house we were going to and spent a considerable time
looking up the list to check the house existed.
Finally satisfied that it did, he then asked why we were
going there. Our friend, an irascible Australian, said we
just wanted to go in to do a few murders. The guard said he
would still have to check with the owners of the house. As it
turned out, our friends lived in the house nearest the gate
so we managed to shout over the fence to tell them to get the
guard to let us in.
I loathe the whole concept of gated communities and am
endlessly grateful that they are not needed in the Wakatipu.
I adore reading the papers here - not just for the very funny
typos which I am guessing are not intentional, but also the
for the content, which surely is.
Today they were asking readers for suggestions on how
authorities could prevent prison outbreaks. Some of the
not-very-outside-the-square solutions include "Have better
security inside and outside the prison" and "have more
manpower on the shift".
I should not mock the typos - I have found that with texting
and email, I have got so slack that I do not even notice my
own misspelt words, and they are appearing more and more
Same with phone numbers - I used to know everyone's phone
numbers by heart, but these days I cannot just rattle them
I have been busy reading.
This time of the year so many great books come out, and I
have been dying to read Tom Wolfe's latest novel Back to
There are not many books that my darling and I both enjoy,
but this is definitely one of them.
Wolfe ropes a whole cast of minorities and immigrants into
this story set in Miami.
Everyone has got problems and issues, from the sex-addicted
squillionaire art collector to the teenage Haitian who has
got involved with some bad company.
He writes in a shouty, over-excited way and everything is
extreme - the characters, the language, the settings, and
especially the descriptions of physical strength and beauty.
He makes fun of everyone's constant desire for wealth,
status, fitness and their general self-obsession.
It is impossible not to laugh out loud at his mocking of the
ridiculous psychologist whose ego swells to dangerous new
heights when he is driving a superfast boat, thinking
everyone is admiring him.
And another favourite author, Barbara Kingsolver, has a new
book out as well.
Flight Behaviour is fiction - thank goodness.
I love monarch butterflies and the whole story of their huge
migrations is endlessly fascinating.
In fact, a lot of the book is factual - she has done a huge
amount of research on global warming and this story about the
butterflies going to the wrong part of the world after the
nonfictional landslips in Mexico probably could be true.
Dellarobia is a clever young woman who ended up married to a
kind but dull farmer in a no-hope part of America.
She is on the verge of wrecking her marriage to him when she
discovers the butterflies and everything changes.
Kingsolver is a biologist but her writing is what has earned
her all the accolades - she has won great strings of awards
for books as various as The Poisonwood Bible about a
missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable,
Mineral which records her family's own attempt to become
locavores for a year. I'm a huge fan of hers and I'm sorry I
was so gluttonous and wolfed down this book so soon - I was
trying to save it for one of those weeks when I really want
something fantastic, but I just could not resist opening it.