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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 often.
Same with phone numbers - I used to know everyone's phone numbers by heart, but these days I cannot just rattle them off.
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 Blood.
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.