Monday, May 26, 2008

Between the Covers

One of the pleasures that has come about from being a crime writer and radio show host was being invited to do a monthly book review slot with the alluring title Between the Covers on Channel 9 Television's Dunedin Diary show. The show is hosted by the charming Dougal Stevenson, and is unashamedly Dunedin-centric.
So not only do I get to enjoy a chit-chat with Dougal, I get to review books I like by local authors. And I should mention here that I choose books I am sure to like. I think life is too short, and a writer's work too precious to trash, and even if I didn't like it, I'd find something constructive to say and suggest an audience who would. That's all part of being a grown up.
So on occasion I'll post my notes of what I would have said in the review if it all went perfectly and I didn't get nervous, and tongue tied or if Dougal didn't ask too many questions, or my brain actually worked properly in my three minutes of fame.

Digging for Spain by Penelope Todd

Penelope is better known as a Young adult and teen fiction writer, who has been a finalist in the NZ Post Children's Book Awards on many occasions. This is quite a departure from her fiction. Digging for Spain is part travel memoir, part autobiography, part confessional and the subtitle, a writer's journey, describes it aptly.
Penelope spent time on a writer's and artists fellowship at Can Serrat in Spain, and her experiences there give the framework for this book. It was a time for reflection on her journey as a person over several years as well as a time to immerse in writing. In this book she is unflinchingly honest about her struggles and internal debates on writing, and faith, and love, and reclaiming her identity as an individual amongst the constant demands of being a mother and wife. This honesty really resonated with me.
I found this to be a book that opened up questions of my own writing, and faith, and love, and it is one I will need to mull over and ponder and read again.
It isn't all serious, serious though. Penelope's prose is colourful and interesting and she has a particular way with words. I would recommend this as a must read for anyone who is or has questioned their life, the worth and direction of their life and what they believe in.

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