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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 4 (July 1, 1936)

Among the Books — A Literary Page or Two

page 61

Among the Books
A Literary Page or Two

Eleven literary murders were committed at a unique gathering of writers in Wellington recently. The meeting was the result of a decision to produce a composite murder mystery novel, some thirteen or fourteen writers being asked to collaborate. For the initial meeting each writer was asked to produce his idea as to how the first chapter should be written. Eleven writers attended With eleven first chapters, each reading his effort in turn. For two hours blood dripped from MSS. with deadly persistence. Indeed the morgue-like atmosphere would have been overpowering had not suitable refreshments been provided and had not one writer produced the first chapter of a humorous murder mystery—and it was humorous. Then when the last literary corpse fell with the conventional dull thud, a secret ballot was held as to which was the chapter most suitable for the relay literary murder race. The choice fell on Victor Lloyd's first chapter of “Murder By Twelve,” Eric Bradwell's “Murder In A Box” coming a good bloodstained second. Then lots were drawn as to the chapters to be written by the other participants, the following being the order of selection: A. E. Mulgan, O. N. Gillespie, G. G. Stewart, C. A. Marris, James Cowan, R. B. Phillips, C. Stuart Perry, Pat Lawlor, C. A. L. Treadwell, Wilson Hogg, Eric Bradwell and S. H. Jenkinson.

The humorous murder mystery was voted so good that it was decided to complete it on the same basis in serial form in the “New Zealand Railways Magazine.”

* * *

As briefly stated in last issue, James Cowan has had a volume of South Sea stories accepted by Jonathan Cape. This is the first book Mr. Cowan has sent to London. The stories are the memories of the author's other days, the days of schooners and schooner men, a cruise to Samoa in the native war days, and stories of, the New Zealand coast. The book is named “Suwarrow Gold” after the title of the longest story in the collection—a tale of treasure-finding on one of our great coral atolls, Suwarrow. It is a strange tragic story of actual adventure.

* * *

Norman Lindsay's wonderful book, “The Magic Pudding,” was first published in an impressive edition by Angus & Robertson in 1918. Later a cheaper edition also met with great success. I understand that an edition will shortly be published in London and New York. I venture to predict that after his pen drawings and etchings, the future fame of Lindsay will be built largely on this delightful phantasy. It is the “Alice in Wonderland” of Australia.

* * *

When I was in Auckland last month I was lent, for a night only, an advance copy of “Robin Hyde's” “Passport to Hell.” I thought I could skim through it in that time, but the book was too vital. I had to read line for line, and then leave it most regretfully until I could have a copy for myself. Although one of the most compelling novels yet written by a New Zealander it could not be recommended to everyone. It is raw meat, and raw meat is not for babes. It must stand as one of the most remarkable feats ever achieved by a woman writer, for “Robin Hyde” has written of a man's life, of the prison cell, of the lust and- blood of war, as only could a deep thinking, deep feeling man who had plunged off the deep end of life.

Shibli” Listens In.

Mr. J. A. Lee, M.P., Parliamentary Under-Secretary, author of the much discussed “Children of the Poor,” has had his second novel accepted for publication. I understand that “New Zealand Truth” has bought the serial rights of the book.

Hector Bolitho has completed his biography of the first Lord Inchcape. It is being published by John Murray.

Professor Sewell's masterly Authors’ Week Address on Katherine Mansfield will shortly be published in booklet form.

Gloria Rawlinson has completed a book, in prose this time, and is sending it to London.

“The New Industrial Legislation,” a book dealing with legislation passed by Parliament this session is to be published shortly by Butterworth & Co. The author is Mr. A. J. Mazengarb.

Monte Holcroft, of Christchurch, has had a novel, “The Papuan,” accepted for serial publication in “The Bulletin.”

A New Zealand novel attracting interest in England is “Show Down,” by M. Escott.