Alan Duff: Why Eleanor Catton was right about NZ

287 comments
Alan Duff and Eleanor Catton. Photo / Supplied / Mark Mitchell
Alan Duff and Eleanor Catton. Photo / Supplied / Mark Mitchell

I agree with most of what Eleanor has to say, especially the country claiming her individual effort. I'd guess that her parents not allowing television when she was growing up played a big part.

Her being influenced by philosophy as her father is a university lecturer in the same is probably another factor.

But regardless of all that, her fellow country women and men did not contribute in any way. Like any novelist, she did it all on her own. Though I'd then say she should also be grateful that readers have bought her book in huge numbers. We all have bills to pay.

She is also bang on the mark about the state of culture in New Zealand.

When it's not banal radio and television with shrieking heads cueing us when and how to react, it is ordinary-to-awful prose in sound-bite form in our print media.

Then it's rugby and more rugby - and I'm one of the dulled-down addicts.

Thank goodness I share her passion for reading and more reading and, in 24 years of international flights, have watched but two movies, with reading winning hands-down.

In my opinion we're a cultural wasteland, which you can see reflected right across our media. A garbage-strewn land ruled over by mediocrities fiercely and ruthlessly possessive of the high ground they've seized.

As the Bard said: "...a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."

As to Eleanor's thoughts on not wanting the fame to go to her head, hearing her speak of the risk of feeling important when, really, none of us are; I like that. Though she is wrong on there being no snobbery and back-biting in the NZ literary scene.

We should just watch her space for her next creative output with a warning: Don't try too hard.

The mediocrities are going to be waiting to pounce, regardless.

Just keep on with the attitude she has and the international literary scene may have an even bigger star.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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