Monday, 28 April 2014

What's going on here

Ratty's still scudding about in the north, occasionally settling to some worthwhile project, more often looking as if he's doing nothing at all. Hardly ever out promoting RMB ebooks which, nevertheless, remain as potent and exceptional as they ever were.

Those of us still applying ourselves to our self-appointed tasks have been talking about publishing collaborations (digital here, beautifully produced hard copy over there — you'll hear more about it soon); I've been reading a couple of exciting manuscripts and weighing them up against my time, interest and resources (I need a team of reindeer to replicate what the rat's supposed to be doing; an ensemble of editing elves).

Some of Rosa Mira's authors have been performing wonders.  Of those featured in Slightly Peculiar Love Stories, Coral Atkinson is in the throes of launching her novel Passing Through, set 'in the port of Lyttelton, in a community still recovering from World War 1'. Coral draws richly credible historical characters and atmospheres; I've read this and it lingers warmly with me.

Sue Wootton has a new book of ten poems, a collector's item called out of shape: have a look. "Handset letterpress in a soft palette of blue, green, brown and red on Magnani Velata Avorio wove mould-made Italian paper." Sounds edible, doesn't it, and I know the work will match the medium.

(I know there are others putting excellent work out into the world but if I haven't written it down, it isn't retained, so I hope any RMB authors will jog my memory and send info about your latest creations.)

Friday, 4 April 2014

Who's afraid to read about death?

I was talking publishing the other day (a conversation that could go on until the cows some home, go out and come home again) with Mary McCallum who's just published through Mākaro Press the extraordinary journal of Harriet Rowland, who records her last two years, living with osteosarcoma, in The Book of Hat. We touched on the difficulty of 'selling' books in which the author is facing her own death (as Annie also was in co-authoring Fields of Gold). We acknowledged the deep-rooted anxiety that to read about death and think about it is tantamount to inviting our own. All of us and especially those facing their mortality through illness are more inclined to seek stories of healing and second chances.

However, it seems that when we lay aside this natural but primitive fear, the contemplation of death and difficulty can deepen and intensify our experience of life — that's the curiously joyous truth radiating from these two books. One initially reluctant reader of Fields of Gold, told co-author Pam Morrison that through her engagement with the story she was extraordinarily and entirely released from her own (very present and pertinent) fear of death.

That's powerful writing, and it's what comes from writers who have courageously entered the darkness and found there inextinguishable light.