August 31, 2009

Stephenie's choice

Chalk one up for New Zealand, even if she didn’t know it! From the August 17th entry on the website of Stephenie Meyer, yes, the Stephenie Meyer, the only author to merit her own voice on Auckland City Libraries’ book-buying budget for 2009-2010:

"I didn't have a ton of time to read this summer, but I did discover one really wonderful two-book series. Dreamhunter and Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox. It is like nothing else I've ever read. The characters are so real, you'll feel like you know exactly what they look like and how their voices sound and what they would say or do in any given situation. More than that, you'll want to hang out with them. Then the world is so amazing and unique. You will want to go there. You will want to walk into "the Place." And you will want to sleep in a dream opera."

I was surprised that with all that gush she wasn’t struck at all by the uncommon New Zealand component, whether of the author or the place. It’s not yelled about, in fact on the first book the publishers didn’t see fit to mention it, but the back cover flap of number 2, Dreamquake, definitely states that Elizabeth Knox lives in Wellington, New Zealand. And as for the setting, an island republic called Southland, settled by the English, with a capital city called Founderston, where there are “bush bees” buzzing around, mossy forests and waterfalls, well, you can see why Wikipedia’s entry for Elizabeth Knox calls it an”alternate New Zealand-like republic”, expanded in the entry on Dreamhunter to “an alternate universe Edwardian version of a New Zealand or Tasmania-like island republic” (I'm guessing that would be the Dream component).

But when we move to the teens, somehow, New Zealand disappears: Teenreads.com unquestioningly declares that Dreamhunter is "set in the beginning of 20th-century Australia”. I’ll refrain from being pedantic about the syntax, but I can’t help wondering if this teen reviewer learned geography at that superb piece of Americana which is the International House of Pancakes restaurant chain (International = 100 American pancake-types plus Swedish pancakes), at one of which a few years back I overheard a vacationing Kiwi family commenting on how New Zealand had been left off the colour-in map of the world on the back of the kiddie menu.

Or was it from one of the many boardgames included in the list “Oh my god, we have fallen off the map OR New Zealand, the amazing disappearing country” on “boardgamegeek.com” which was started by an Aucklander (I am loathe to give the name as I am sure I will do something uncool like think it’s his name when it is actually his cyber persona) noticing that there’s no New Zealand on the Risk gameboard.

I think I only played Risk once or twice in my life, we didn't have it in our house as my parents didn’t see the point of buying any board game more modern than Scrabble, but the little girl next door did, just one of many typical Southern California things she had and we didn’t, come to think of it, such as toy ponies, Dr. Suess books, a television and divorced parents. I didn’t show any talent for it anyway, so thought it a better investment to spend my time lobbying for a Clue game. However Risk appears to have been so popular as to have inspired many more world-map games, involving also timely things like pandemics and historical things like exploration, all bearing the gene for No-New Zealandness, including, ironically, one about 18th century exploration called Endeavour.

Is this the other side of the coin of that comment by someone named Eric Korn in the TLS, who, reviewing the book Spike and Co, related how he had learned with horror that the BBC had inadvertently wiped eighty of the first hundred Goon shows:

The Saga of the HMS Aldgate, Operation Bagpipes, and The Building of Britain’s First Atomic Cannon, all gone into the dark, unless some Goonophile in Wellington or Ouagadougou has a tape.” (TLS, Feb. 23 2007)

Now what do Wellington and Ouagadougou have in common, you might ask? All I found, in a quick browse of traveler feedback on the internet, is no noted tourist traps.







Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 03:30
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