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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 5 (August 2, 1937)

Among the Books — A Literary Page or Two

page 49

Among the Books
A Literary Page or Two

There is a young Wellington free lance enthusiast who has worked with quiet persistence over the last several years in the interests of the younger school of writers. He is Noel Hoggard, the indefatigable editor and publisher of “Spilt Ink.” With the most limited of funds, with the meanest of printing equipment (and I am sure Hoggard will not object to the adjective) he has pursued his course of assisting, by publicity and words of kind encouragement, the younger school of writers. In the first place the journal appeared in typescript form, then per medium of the shaky battered letters of a small printing plant that was possibly as old as our oldest resident. Once Hoggard was driven by force of circumstance to Upper Hutt. Here he discovered a possibly older plant. It reminded me in its type of the “Upper Hutt Independant,” published for many years by another indominitable printer, Angus McCurdy. Possibly it was the identical outfit. A few months ago “Spilt Ink” came out in more elaborate form. Still the crazy printing but still an interesting journal with the best of ideals—help for others. In fact I am sure that if ever Hoggard were forced to Ward Island he would produce a stone-age edition carved on rocks hewn from the rugged cliffs. It appears, however, that “Spilt Ink” is to have a new future under a new name. I hear that on the 20th of this month it will be published by a new printing plant under thq title of “The New Triad.” If this is so I suggest that it is up to everyone interested in writing in New Zealand to send along a subscription (3/- per annum) to the “Times” Building, Wellington, the headquarters of the new enterprise. I think that you will agree that Noel Hoggard deserves it.

* * *

For four weeks recently I was compelled to rely on the Sydney press for my daily news. I must confess that with the exception of the “Herald” I care neither for the quality of their news nor its manner of presentation. The Sydney newspapers appear to be composed of 50% of advertising, 25% of sporting news, 15% of sensation, and 10% of solid news. The last-mentioned is the most difficult to locate. And yet the Sydney public rush these papers and buy them by the hundred thousands every day. They think nothing of buying three or four editions in the one afternoon. I much prefer our own New Zealand press. This is not parochial prejudice, for it is admitted by world travellers that dailies such as the Christchurch “Press” and Auckland “Herald” and Wellington “Post” would be hard to improve on in any part of the world. Another thing that annoyed me in Sydney was the almost entire absence of New Zealand news. Over a period of four weeks the only New Zealand items I could find referred to such things as the Napier Hospital Inquiry, a half column about a scientific marriage bureau being established in the Dominion, and a half column about the New Zealand Government. This paucity of New Zealand news in the Sydney press is a constant source of annoyance to New Zealanders, and I am told there are 20,000 of them there.

In the latest number of “Art in New Zealand” is one of the most beautiful poems I have read from a New Zealand writer. It is entitled “The Poet” and the author is Mr. J. R. Hervey, of Christchurch. In awarding it first prize in the poem competition, the editor of the magazine commends it to those grown weary of “gracious trivialities.” Here are two verses—

He is not darkened by their idle rage, Whose feet espouse the perfect pilgrimage—

His tears anoint the way of beauty's birth,

While men throw dice and chatter round the earth.

He's pledged to wonder and to fantasy—

The cliffs of contemplation and her sea

Command him, and the dark, insistent wings

Of fancy speed him to immortal springs.

The poem holds all that “Art and New Zealand” is pledged to, and has worked so earnestly to give us in picture, poetry or prose during its several years of existence.

A bookplate designed by Merv. Taylor, Wellington, New Zealand.

A bookplate designed by Merv. Taylor, Wellington, New Zealand.

As promised I am including in this issue the second of two recipes of interest to book and print collectors. This one will interest those of a botanical mind. It must be remembered that these methods are of ancient vintage as is evident from the flowing copperplate in which they were written when discovered by me. Here then is the method of “taking impressions of plants”:—

Take the green plant and spread it out upon paper, in such a manner as to display the proper character of the plant in the best manner that a plain surface will admit; then place it between the leaves of a book and leave it under a weight for some days. When it has become stiff and dry take it out and with a camel-hair pencil smear the whole of it with Indian ink; turn the painted side down upon a clean piece of paper which has been page 50 page 51 sponged with water at the back. Place a few leaves of paper upon it, and again leave it under a weight for about half an hour. In this manner impressions of plants may be taken which will have a soft and beautiful effect, and will characterize the plant with a degree of force not often observed in engravings. Care should be taken that the ink be not used so plentifully as to make the impression too black, or to press out beyond the limits of the specimen. Any slight deficiencies which appear may be applied with a pencil. It has been usually recommended to use a printer's ball and ink for taking impressions; but the effect in this way is not superior, the difficulty of managing the process is increased, and the conveniences required are not easily attainable.

* * *


“Mac's Memories,” by Dr. G. H. Cunningham (A. H. and A. W. Reed, Dunedin and Wellington), is the life story of a gallant gentleman, the late Squadron Leader McGregor. The book should have a big sale for three reasons. It is an authoritative account, written by a personal friend of one of our air heroes, it is a vivid and intensely interesting story, and, finally, all profits from the sale will be paid to the McGregor Memorial Fund for the support of the wife and family. In the opening pages the author gives an appealing personal picture of “Mac” with a word as to his parents and grandparents, “typical Scottish fighting stock.” Then he goes on to' trace his flying life, his experiences as a war pilot, his experiences in pioneer flying in this country, the story of the great international air race and finally “Mac's” part in commercial aviation in New Zealand. The book is interestingly illustrated and is published in two editions, one at 7/6 and a de luxe edition, signed by the author, at 20/-.

“Mr. Jelly's Business,” by Arthur W. Upfield (Angus and Robertson, Sydney), should appeal to lovers of detective thrillers, even those whose tastes are catered for by the best English and Continental detective writers. If you have read “Wings above Diamantina” by the same author you will remember the appealing figure of Detective-Inspector Bonaparte, a half-caste sleuth. He appears once more in this latest book and in his very best form. “Bony's” part in this highly exciting story will place him as an enduring figure in your gallery of fiction detectives.

* * *

“The Glory Box Mystery,” by G. W. Wicking (Angus and Robertson, Sydney), also proves that these Australian writers can turn out detective fiction well up to the standard of other countries. A customer at a big furnishing emporium in Melbourne buys a glory box and in it is discovered the body of a partner in the firm. Here's where Detective Greenwood, a sleuth of bulldog tenacity, gets busy. Altogether there are three murders to unravel making things particularly enthralling for the reader.

* * *

“Everlasting Hurricane,” by R. W. Coulter (Angus and Robertson, Sydney), is an adventure-charged story concerning two escapees from New Caledonia. They escape from their island prison during a hurricane. The vivid descriptive powers of the author, particularly during the sea scenes, are reminiscent of Joseph Conrad. His is a somewhat new and arresting style. The love story of Peter Craig, one of the escapees, and Anne, the daughter of the master of an island schooner, completes the plot of this powerful romantic novel.

* * *

Shibli Listens in.

The New Zealand Ex Libris Society has decided to issue another of its artistic brochures.

John Barr, formerly of Wellington, is still an active and popular figure in the free lance world in Sydney. He contributes a weekly page, “The Shanty on the Rise” to “The World's News.”