Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
This one is from the Hawkes Bay Today, the region's daily newspaper:
'Three stories, with seemingly no connection with each other and continents apart, takes some imagination to piece together but Kirkpatrick does it with amazing fluidity, keeping the reader captivated to the last page.
'Kirkpatrick gives no clues as to what will happen but somewhere all three people will meet Husk, but to what ends remain a mystery.
'There is never a dull moment when reading Kirkpatrick's books. Knife-edge fantasy from a master.'
- on Path of Revenge, 22/3/2008
So, our Alex has made his decision. He's turned 18, and so, in the spirit of his desire not to have dealings with his parents (those 'Nazis' as he calls them), he's decided to - stay. Not only that, he's going to stay for free, and tolerate our continued interference in his life.
I'm scratching my head. I think it came down to his shock at how much full board actually costs. 'But I'd have to get a part time job!' he exclaimed.
You can guess what we, gainfully employed as we are, said at that point.
So, I have an official ticket to interfere. To nag him to start that Uni essay due in next week. To go to bed before 4am. If he doesn't like it, he can cough up the dough or leave. Let's see what happens ...
This came across my desk yesterday:
'Top New Zealand fantasy author Russell Kirkpatrick takes no prisoners with his second book in the Husk trilogy Dark Heart (Voyager PB $34). His richly complex plot line brings together his three main characters, fisherman Noetos, troubled brilliant cosmographer Lenares and immortal queen Stella, to consider a joint enemy before forcing them back to their individual journeys. In the background is the spectre of a painwracked enemy they are only just beginning to comprehend. A fascinating world by a master world builder and map maker, full of flying body parts and powerful character development.' - DOMINION POST, Sunday March 8, 2008, p20.
Nice to get reviewed in New Zealand, and even more so when the reviewer has read the book. I do like the 'flying body parts' bit.
By contrast, have a look at this:
'They keep coming, these faux-medieval quest fantasy epics, vast sagas set in mythical lands where people with names like Bregor, Sauxa and Diphona of Hupallage brandish their halberds. Five hundred pages of Path of Revenge by Russell Kirkpatrick hit the Listener in-tray recently, and that's just book one of a projected series called Husk. Well, good on you, Russell (a New Zealander): if people buy them, and HarperCollins is willing to publish them, don't let us stand in your way. But there's almost an element of self-parody in blurbs advising us that "the Undying Man, Lord of Bhrudwo, lies, eviscerated, in the dungeon of Andratan." Bhrudwo?'
Dear old Denis Welch. Long replaced by others as a columnist of real humour, his demeaning job now is to remind his readers of their literary superiority (the Listener is, after all, the intelligent person's choice, far superior to TV Guide - and much more seldom read). They keep coming, these faux-literary reviews, allowing these superior ones to sneer at their less intellectually well endowed fellows. Trouble is, Denis only read the blurb, and he got that wrong. It's Husk lying in the dungeon, Denis. Husk.
I note with interest the following book gets a positive review from Mr Welch: Manhire at 60: A Book For Bill. It's a tribute to a local poet, with a print run of 500 copies. Some are apparently still available from selected book stores, says Denis, perhaps expecting both his readers to rush out then and there, Titanium Visas in hand. Meanwhile, at the editorial desk, the editor wonders why the Listener doesn't sell as well as it used to.
It's my younger son's eighteenth birthday tomorrow.
He's been an increasingly difficult lad. Not that he gets up to mischief or anything; he doesn't drink, smoke or frequent loose women (nor will he tell me where they live). However, he has his own way of thinking about the world, one diametrically opposed to ours. He doesn't, for example, see any virtue in work.
OK, neither do most teenage boys. But Alex is different. He is an anarchist, which I respect, but in practise this means he lives off the rest of us. He's an anarchist who doesn't believe in 'serving the man' but is outraged when his mother doesn't pick up his dirty clothes.
So. Tomorrow he faces a choice. He can either continue to live here as a member of the family - a son - with all the rights and responsibilities of a son. We as parents reserve the right to interfere mercilessly in his life, as we have done, demanding he either attend university or get a job, for example. And that he goes to bed before 5am and gets up before 3pm.
Or he can continue to live here, but as a boarder. He will pay market rates, and we will expect nothing of him beyond any other boarder. He can stay up as late as he likes, and participate in no more discussions about what he ought to be doing with his life.
Or he can leave.
He was faced with these choices last night. For five points, anyone want to guess what he chose? Without a moment's hesitation? And for a bonus twenty points, what his first words were? (A hint: it was a question.)
I blogged yesterday about the end of the drought. We all knew it was coming; the full day's steady rain was predicted well in advance by the Met Service.
Sadly, late yesterday afternoon six students and their teacher were swept to their deaths in a swollen mountain stream a couple of hundred kilometres south of where I live. They were participating in outdoor education run by the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre.
The centre's chief executive, Grant Davidson, told TV3 News last night that 'water flow in the gorge rose from 0.5 cubic metres per second (cumecs) at 3pm to 18 cumecs at 3.30pm'. He said that 'when they entered the gorge the water was at very low level and there was no prediction for heavy rain.' He went on to say that 'I am comfortable this was a normal activity we had with this age group in these sort of conditions. Obviously if we had known or predicted about the pulse of water we would not have been there.'
He actually said these damning things on national TV last night. I was astonished. Being a geographer familiar with New Zealand's climate, I waited for someone to use the magic words - and they did. 'This was a freak accident attributable to a weather bomb.'
No it was not. Mr. Davidson is either woefully misinformed about the weather yesterday or he's lying. The Met Service warned of heavy rain for Tuesday as early as late last week, and continued to reinforce those warnings throughout the weekend. Moreover, they issued a severe weather warning, a bulletin all professional outdoors people must take seriously. According to MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt, the MetService had said on Sunday that the rainy weather would last all week.
'A heavy rain warning for the area was issued on Monday and a severe thunder storm watch was issued from Northland to Taupo at 9am yesterday.'
Mr McDavitt said the MetService had forecast 40-50mm of rain an hour and he said levels had been recorded between 30-50mm/hour in surrounding areas (http://www.stuff.co.nz/4482946a10.html).
A band of rain moved southwards across the North Island on Tuesday: heavy rain fell in Hamilton from 11am until 3.30pm. According to locals in Turangi, the nearest town to the scene of the tragedy, they had experienced heavy rain all day. This was not some freakish 'weather bomb.' It was simply heavy rain and thunderstorms embedded in a low pressure system, a very common occurrence in New Zealand.
So the obvious question is this. What on earth were they doing in the stream that afternoon? I've been on plenty of tramps, and I know when to stay out of the water. Yesterday no one in their right mind ought to have gone near a stream, particularly one so close to the headwaters. The site of the Outdoor Pursuits Centre on Mangatepopo Stream is only a few kilometres from the summit of Tongariro. Yesterday's events were NOT abnormal or unusual, and not even that infrequent. The headwaters of rivers in New Zealand are often drenched by heavy rain, and every care must be taken to stay out of them.
In my view the teacher and pupils who died were the unfortunate victims of someone's criminally careless decision to be on the river at a time when the likelihood of severe flooding was extremely high, and had been predicted. I expect the various inquiries which will follow this event to lead to charges being laid against whoever made that decision. Further, I expect that particular centre to be either reorganised or closed.
This was not a 'freak accident'. It was an entirely predictable and entirely preventable tragedy.