Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Penelope Todd on her memoir.................
'… a book to live by…'
Although, like most authors, I'm uncomfortable promoting my own work, I think of my memoir Digging for Spain as a good friend I'm prepared (even proud) to stand alongside and re-introduce.
It's the book with which I've shocked family and made friends, and for which I've received the most fervent gratitude and my most disparaging (albeit anonymous) review.
In 2005 I spent a month at the mildly chaotic artists' community of Can Serrat in Spain. There I collated notes, journals and written exchanges from the previous seven years, in which I'd observed with slow astonishment the reorientation of my inner world through the process of writing fiction and of taking stock. Interposed with these reflections, are the more immediate notes from Spain: on my fellow writers, on Montserrat where I roamed, on spiders, dreams and Barcelona.
Longacre Press published the memoir in 2006. My daughter Alex Huber made the new cover image. I present it here as an ebook. A few hard copies are available too, by reply to this email.
From the early pages: I like to think there’s a story already sealed within each of us. Some of us take a long time to uncover, decipher and assent to it. We start our search when we find that the stories we’ve attached ourselves to prove no longer accurate, their themes too limited … I’m talking about the midlife quest we’re invited on when all we’ve abandoned or ignored of our earlier impulses towards life begin to clamour for attention. … I knew I was in some kind of trouble the day my finger started jumping.
From the original cover: Here is a portrait of the growth of a writer, of the challenges of faith, and the route one woman takes to reach a better accommodation with herself, and her family. It's a heartfelt and lyrical narrative — as the author questions her closest relationships, and some of the stifling patterns she has fallen into. Yet it will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has ever tried to juggle relationships, the craving for solitude, and the urge to write or to devote oneself to a career which demands total focus.
Delicately written, yet tough at the core, Digging for Spain explores an intensely personal yet common rite of passage: that of a woman learning to separate her identity from motherhood, marriage, and beliefs formed in youthful inexperience.