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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 10 (January 1, 1935)

Among the Books — A Literary Page or Two

page 39

Among the Books

A Literary Page or Two

One of the most discussed books in this country during the past month has been “Robin Hyde's” “Journalese.” There has been some criticism and resentment over a few of her observations, but the author could not expect otherwise. She appears to have invited it. It must be admitted, however, that her book is an outstanding piece of work. She has covered the years since 1924 very thoroughly. If she was not on the spot, at least she has the inside story of everything of interest that has happened over those dozen interesting years. Her Auckland “Sun” chapter is interesting, but with her capacity for news-getting, I thought she would have given us more of the real story of the crash. Too dangerous possibly, yet “Robin” has been very daring in other revelations in this book. By the way, like other New Zealanders, “Robin” is unkind to Hector Bolitho. Also, I consider there is no foundation in her allegation of disloyalty to Dolores on the part of Margaret Macpherson. Mrs. Macpherson's articles about Dolores were the natural retaliation and self-protection of a woman who considered she had been an innocent party to an alleged fraud. Surely “Robin” would not deny her the right of self-defence.

Nevertheless, we forget these little criticisms when we read the many kind and generous compliments showered on a host of New Zealand writers.

* * *

Imagine anyone being so mercenary as to measure out the reading value of a history of art in terms of £ s. d. I must plead guilty. Recently I purchased William Moore's “Story of Australian Art,” the published price of which is two guineas. Being a poor journalist I became alarmed at my extravagance. Gradually, though, as I passed several evenings of rare pleasure in the perusal of a great and glorious record, peace descended upon me. Here were two quarto volumes of 250 pages, each enriched with many wonderful illustrations. I can continue drawing gratification and information from these volumes as long as I live. Had I purchased an ordinary 250 page novel it would have cost me seven or eight shillings, and when finished I may have been pleased or disappointed. At any rate the novel would have been done with. How so Moore's great work? I am satisfied that it is one of the most pleasant literary investments I have made. It is a joy to handle, a fascination to read, and a rapture to dwell on the many wonderful plates. I feel, therefore, I have justified my apparently most mercenary analysis.

* * *

Although an Australian history of art, New Zealand plays no small part in its pages. We meet and learn many interesting facts of famous New Zealand artists, and they are well represented in the comprehensive dictionary of artists with which the work concludes. It would take pages of this magazine to review adequately this magnificent work, suffice to say that Australia has reason to feel proud of its glorious record in the realms of art, proud also of William Moore for his great undertaking now so worthily completed. The publishers, Messrs. Angus and Robertson must share in the general chorus of acclamation.

One of the numerous bookplates of Mr. P. N. Barnett, formerly of Christchurch, and now one of the world's leading authorities on Ex Libris.

One of the numerous bookplates of Mr. P. N. Barnett, formerly of Christchurch, and now one of the world's leading authorities on Ex Libris.

One stormy night, when I had finished a hard fourteen hours of news gathering on the “N.Z. Times,” I was about to run to catch my last tram for the suburbs, when, through the pandemonium of the elements, came across the harbour to Wellington “Times” office the weird ‘wail of a ship's siren. In a moment I was pelting through the wind and rain to the watch-house on the Queen's wharf. There I found three anxious Harbour Board men, in oilskins, peering through the darkness, their speculations as wild and as murky as the storm itself. Inside the watch-house a telephone was ringing insistently, and I heard talk of the Terawhiti putting to sea to the rescue. I pulled my cap down well over my face and prepared for the worst. As we waited, a figure came flying through the storm from the direction of the King's wharf.

“It's from down there,” shouted the stranger; “close in by the wharf.”

An hour later, drenched to the skin and chattering with cold, we solved the mystery. The release rope of a small coastal tub's siren had, through some extraordinary chance, become jammed, and it was left to the combined efforts of our own party of searchers to unshackle it, and so to silence one of the most nerve-racking sounds of any black storm I have ever faced.

* * *

Some New Zealand newspapers have a way all their own of dealing with contributed matter. A lady writer was made familiar with this little peculiarity. She had contributed an article to a certain weekly, and when it appeared in print watched daily for the cheque for about two months. Then she wrote to the editor and asked him (politely) “w'affor the little hiatus?” “Dear Madame,” wrote the editor in reply, “as your contribution was a voluntary one it is our rule never to make payment for articles contributed under such circumstances. In appreciation of your effort, however, we are breaking our rule and forwarding you by this mail, under separate cover, a free copy of the issue in which your article appeared.”

(Continued on page 41.)