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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 2 (May 1, 1936)

Among the Books

page 55

Among the Books

A Literary Page or Two
Notable New Zealand Trials.

In “Notable New Zealand Trials,“Mr. C. A. L. Treadwell, the well-known Wellington solicitor, has scored a distinct success.

Turn up the book at any page and there you find something of absorbing interest—some sidelight on human character or emotion, some reference to the facts and fiction of the past, some telling argument or comment drawn from sound reasoning or profound knowledge.

Mr. Treadwell's style is terse, his facts are the result of intimate research, and each story is treated in a distinctive and masterly manner.

As a study in criminology the book bids fair to become a standard work of reference, whilst for human appeal, the “Trials” outshine most of the more remarkable imaginative stories of this type.

A large number of “Trials” have already appeared, in illustrated form, in the “New Zealand Railways Magazine,“but readers will appreciate having these, together with many others in the same series, assembled in book form.

The publication itself is a splendid example of the printers’ art applied to the making of an easily handled and easily read publication. In choice of type and lay-out the book is definitely attractive. The printers, Thomas Avery & Sons Ltd., of New Plymouth, have done work well up to the best world standards.

New Zealand has seen many notable trials—and doubtless will see many more. It is a subject of perennial interest at such times to refer back to the circumstances of past events, where points of similarity might be detected. As people talk much of these affairs, they can make their conversation more interesting and better informed by reference to this volume, which covers an extraordinary range of human interest trials and is published at the comparatively low price of 7/6d.

New Zealand Authors’ Week.

New Zealand Authors' Week, so brilliantly organised, is just over. Never in the history of New Zealand have New Zealand books and the literary activities of New Zealand, from the creation of the authors' thought to the finished product in book form, been brought so forcibly and so appealingly before our reading public. I do not propose to hark back on the details of the elaborate programmes so faithfully and strikingly presented. There is sufficient evidence to be found in the columns of the daily press. I am here to discuss, not the past, but the future. It is strikingly evident that Authors’ Week has re-awakened the New Zealand public to the fact that they need not, as in the past, rely entirely on the overseas literary product. The most practical result of the week has been the increase in the sale of New Zealand books, and this will continue, for the public, having tasted of its own country's wares, will, because it is satisfied, with its appealing quality, continue to buy.

But will the output be equal to the demand? To a certain extent it will, for, apart from the numerous books published, in the spirit of optimism
An Interesting bookplate drawn for himself by Frank Cooze, of Wellington.

An Interesting bookplate drawn for himself by Frank Cooze, of Wellington.

that for months presaged the big'week, writers have been further inspired, and already they are busy producing for the re-awakened market. I hear of several new novels, numerous projected books of verse, and at least two anthologies on the way.

The abiding incentive for future endeavour is the magnificent publication that embraces in bioliographic detail, article and verse, the story of New Zealand literature up till April, 1936. This publication is already under order by the leading libraries of the world. When April, 1937, comes along there should be a still more inspiring story to tell.

The, March issue of “Art in New Zealand” features the work of Sydney L. Thompson, one of our most distinguished painters. Two colour plates and four reproductions of his work in black and white are supported by a well written survey by James Shelley. Mr. C. A. Marris, the editor, gives helpful criticism in announcing the result of the quarterly's short story competition, which was won by Mrs. E. D. M. Doust. Tom Mills, close friend of the late Dave Souter, writes interestingly on Souter's book-plates with illustrations of his work. Poems by “Robin Hyde” and Peter Middleton are among other features of this attractive issue, I hope the inspiration of Authors’ Week will move more New Zealand literary and art enthusiasts to support this excellent: magazine.

* * *

We in New Zealand must be proud of C. R. Allen because of his latest novel, “A Poor Scholar.” He has in the past done fine work as a poet, novelist and essayist, but nothing so sincere, so living as this novel. It has all the ingredients—style, plot, truth and interest. He has taken a poor lad from the rather drab home of his parents and converted him into a Rhodes scholar and knighted him, and, he has done it convincingly. I feel that I know Frederick Lawrence (“Ponto”) as a friend, and every reader of this charming book will feel page 56 the same. Although I have been to Dunedin many times, I am now looking forward to my next visit just to see it as C. R. Allen has in this story. There is an H. G. Wells’ touch about the characterisations of the various people (I speak of Wells of the “Kipps” and “Mr. Polly” period); there is the philosophy of—well, the charming philosophy of C.R.A. himself; there are vivid sentences worthy of a Leonard Merrick. Of all New Zealand novels there is not one I would have wished to have written more than “A Poor Scholar.”

The story is simple—the development from poverty of a Rhodes scholar, the story of his boyhood, his manhood, of his loves and his triumphs. And without any effort Mr. Allen has made it so redolent of New Zealand.

* * *


“They Died With Their Boots On,” by Thomas Ripley (Angus & Robert-son, Sydney), tells a thrilling story of the life and true adventures of John Wesley Hardin and other Texan desperadoes. The author, who was the grandson of “one of the toughest, hardest-riding cavalry rebels ever to swing a sabre,” has in his blood the thrill of those lawless days succeeding the American Civil War. He has the ability to tell the story and the industry to unearth records to vouch for the truth of his yarns. The central figure, Hardin, was a picturesque and notorious killer and his career of shooting plays the predominant note in the orchestration of gunfire and outlawry. A vivid book.

* * *

“The Lure of New Zealand Book Collecting,” by Johannes Andersen (Whitcombe & Tombs, Ltd.) appeared, most appropriately, in time for New Zealand Authors’ Week. We have revelled in following the track of the gold seeker of half a century ago. Here we go hand in hand with a seeker after greater riches—the treasures of literature. To my mind there is no more fascinating hobby in this whole world than book collecting. Although the author refers often to market values, he is no mercenary seeker of tomes. He is a prospector of their literary worth. The nuggets he unearths glitter not their worth in £.s.d.; he is immersed mostly in the literary and sentimental value of the books he writes of. Yet he is not such an arch sentimentalist as to wholly ignore market prices. This is why the book will appeal to all people who love books, whether it be as litterateurs, hobbyists or money-makers. A delightful volume, the format of which will carry an irresistible appeal to the interested buyer. It will be consulted as a reference book for many years to come.

* * *

“A Century of Horror” (Hutchison, London; Whitcombe & Tombs, New Zealand agents), is one of the latest of the Century Library. Being statistical, it contains 52 stories by 47 authors and comprises 1,024 pages. Being descriptive, the book has in it enough stories of horror to stiffen the hair on the scalp of the most blase reader. There's something terribly fascinating in reading a well told horror story. In this book we have such masterful writers as Ambrose Bierce, Walter de la Mare, Edgar Allen Poe, Balzac, Algernon Blackwood, H. G. Wells, de Maupassant and Denis Wheatley. The last mentioned has been selected, most appropriately, as editor of the collection. Wheatley is a connoisseur of the weird and certainly he has scoured the purple shadows most assiduously in the compilation of this volume.

* * *

“Fifty Years of Ghost Stories” (from the same publishers), is a fit companion for the volume mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Whether or not they leave us shivering, ghost stories always appeal to the great majority of readers. A long procession of ghosts of great variety are summoned from the shadows by such expert story spinners as E. F. Benson, Algernon Blackwood, W. L. George, Sheridan le Fanu, Bulwer-Lytton, Bram Stoker, etc. Whether they have a dripping dagger in their shadowy chests, their heads in their hands or plenteous bangles of clanking chains, all these ghosts are very interesting, if shuddersome. Quite the ideal book for waiting wives anxious to be awake and mentally alert for the attack on late coming husbands.

* * *

“The Cattle King,” by Ion L. Idriess (Angus & Robertson, Sydney), is the life story of one of Australia's greatest men, Sir Sydney Kidman. No writer could be better fitted to tell this story than Idriess, one of the most popular of Australian authors. His book contains not only the story of the acknowledged Cattle King of the world, but is also a vivid picture of Australia during the Cattle King's period. With Sir Sydney Kidman as the hero and the great Australian continent as the background, Idriess has written a book that will live. Idriess claims that his story is “as accurate as it is possible to make it,” and those who know the previous work of Idriess will believe him. What a vivid story from the opening chapter when Sid Kidman, aged thirteen, runs away from home with his tiny swag and his worldly wealth (five shillings)in his pocket, to the last chapter when Sir Sydney Kidman, gallant old man, shakes hands with Idriess and smilingly awaits the end: “Ah well it is all over, I've had a wonderful life. When the good Lord gives me notice I'll pack up my bag and go.” Added interest to the book is provided in the numerous interesting illustrations.

* * *

Shibli” Listens In.

Mr. Walter Jago, who brilliantly edited “Aussie” for a number of years, has been appointed editor of “The Australian Magazine,” which is due to appear shortly in Sydney.

A number of leading New Zealand writers are collaborating in a murder mystery novel on a scheme similar to “Murder Pie,” recently published in Australia by A. & R.