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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 3 (July 1, 1932)

“High Lights of Life” — Ken Alexander's Coming Book

page 15

“High Lights of Life”
Ken Alexander's Coming Book

Ken Alexander. From a drawing by Frank Bush.

Ken Alexander.
From a drawing by Frank Bush.

D'Ye ken Alexander? Mon, he's great and grand,” said an Irish friend to me the other day.

I made such a long and vigorous reply that my friend was almost sorry he had started my engines, for Ken Alexander is one of my big enthusiasms. Happily, too, he has endeared himself to many other New Zealanders, so that his venture into bookdom should be a winner, from all viewpoints. A notice in this issue reminds lovers of bright, clean wit and humour that they must act promptly in giving orders for “High Lights of Life,” as the special autographed edition is strictly limited.

More than a dozen years ago I helped in the discovery of Ken Alexander by giving his illustrated drollery a run in “Quick March” (published by the N.Z. Returned Soldiers' Association). Since then he has developed remarkably as a writer and artist.

To-day he has the master touch which is recognised by prominent critics overseas. Indeed, it does not require a super-certificated prophetic eye to see the hand of England or America—or both—reaching out for him and lifting him into a wider field of fame than New Zealand or Australia can offer him.

Readers of the “Railways Magazine” and some other publications do not need to be told that Ken Alexander is probably the Dominion's leading humorist. He makes no such claim; he would scout such a notion and dismiss it with a merry jest, but—as the politicians are ever reminding us—“we must face facts.” If there is a better humorist, who is he or she? Where doth he or she abide?

I like to think of Ken Alexander as the O. Henry of New Zealand. Of course, O. Henry is distinctive, but so is Ken Alexander. Like O. Henry, Ken Alexander has the gift of very shrewd playfulness with words, and in taking this very amusing liberty with language he exercises a license to shoot at all manner of fads and fancies of scientists, psychologists, economists, quacks and reformers. His badinage and banter serve a good purpose.

It is really a privilege for New Zealanders to be able to order an autographed copy of “High Lights of Life.” They will receive a delightful book, and they will encourage a brilliant New Zealander to achieve a worthy career. Every now and then one reads an article about the national importance of the cultivation of a “New Zealand Literature,” or “New Zealand Art.” How are the ideals to be attained if bright writers and artists are not encouraged?

Here is a call to action. Here is a call to order something worth-while. Let us rally around Ken Alexander and gladden him as he has gladdened us. Does not one good turn deserve another? Onward, then, brothers and sisters all, with your names on the dotted lines. Send to-day, that to-morrow may leave no regrets.

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