Sunday, October 15, 2006

Myth of the 21st Century

I remember reading somewhere about the "Derridean biblioblitz" of 1967 -- the three books Of Grammatology; Writing and Difference; and Speech and Phenomena.

Far be it from me to suggest any resemblance between us, but this has been, nevertheless, an unusually busy year for me in terms of publishing. It began with:
1/ my novel The Imaginary Museum of Atlantis;
2/ went on to the Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance anthology;
3/ and now concludes with this collection of new fiction, edited by Tina Shaw and myself, entitled Myth of the 21st Century.

The stories were all commissioned specially for the book, so it was rather difficult to predict in advance just what the finished artefact would look like. Everyone has risen magnificently to the occasion, though -- we've ended up with 14 very quirky and individual stories, all grouped around the concept of myth, and specifically designed to focus on what the dominant myths of the next century might turn out to be.

The authors are (in order):
Patricia Grace, who rewrites the Maori legend of the tides;
Martin Edmond, who creates an urban myth for the Jenolan caves;
Tina Shaw, whose feral children catch and kill an albatross;
Mike Johnson, who spins a lush version of Psyche’s story;
Poet Karlo Mila, who offers a stunning Tongan nightmare;
Anthony McCarten, who tells a growing-up story in reverse;
Tracey Slaughter, who gives a disconcerting take on the Fates;
Vivienne Plumb, who makes some old fables disconcertingly new;
Charlotte Grimshaw, who pairs a warrior with his modern twin;
Jack Ross, who brings to life a selkie legend;
Maxine Alterio, who unfolds a contemporary Aztec myth;
Aaron Taouma, who tells the story of Uncle Sione, an urban holy fool;
Judith White, who spins a mythic yarn about a doomed love affair;
& Tim Corballis, who explores the very idea of myth itself.

(That's how the blurb describes us, anyway).

I think there's some pretty damned good stuff in there (though possibly I'm prejudiced). It was certainly an intensely educational experience putting it together. I enjoyed most of all the chance of observing a group of fiction-writers at work. Since I'm trying to horn in on their game, I'd better get an idea of some of the ground rules. Tina was very helpful there, and a tower of strength throughout the editing process.

The official publication date is today, so I guess I'll be raising a glass in celebration later on (we're not having an official launch this time). Check it out in a shop near you. It'd make an ideal Christmas present for some mythologically-minded friend or relative!

Tina and I will be interviewed by Lynn Freeman on Radio New Zealand's Arts on Sunday programme on Sunday afternoon (22/10) at 2pm, so that should be worth a listen, too. There's a link to the recording here, which should be up for the next four weeks (it's also available for download).


Richard said...

I found a some of Owen Marhsall's stories are incredibly good - I have become an (minor) afficanado of short stories - Joyce Carol Oates, Mansfield, Sargeson, Checkov, Moravia, Calvino, Borges, and so on. (Years ago I read many sci fi stories). I might get that book if I see it, though I do I prefer single author collections. I tried to write couple of short stories but I tend to write almost directly about my own experiences and most of thsoe are not very interesting - so I gave up - I cant think of many ideas or plots etc...(O me miserum!)

I suppose you have read all three of the Derrida books Jack? (Confite!!) I have book by Derrida - I opened it at page one - read the first sentence - then I shut it - it looked too formidable.

Good to se you are keeping up the blogging and wirting.

Anonymous said...

How or where can we buy it (from the other hemisphere)?

peace John