What I'm reading: Rachel McAlpine
The fattest paper book that I'm reading at present is The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox. I'm a fan but for practical reasons (plane, small carry-on bag) I stalled at page 420. I'll regain momentum soon. The thinnest book by my bed is Body Politic, poems by Mary Cresswell. I'm enjoying her mix of evidence-based and enigmatic, down-to-earth and experimental.
Actually I've got too many poets on my coffee table and computer and they would prefer the calm of lockdown. (Now they have to compete with RuPaul's Drag Race.) I swivel between beloved and familiar poets (Dinah Hawken, Jenny Bornholdt, Jo Thorpe) and new-to-me poets including Jane Arthur and Elizabeth Morton. I'm enjoying Salty 8, an unpretentious zine published by a group of young Wellingtonians. In Salty there's always a poem by Maisie Chilton Cressler, Ronia Ibrahim or Briana Jamieson that snares my eye, mind and heart.
Recently I read Barbara Neely's four subversive detective novels, which I'd missed in the 1990s. In my teens I had gobbled up the all-white British detective novels of Agatha Christie et al. By contrast, Neely was a black political activist and her housekeeper-cook heroine Blanche White breaks the mould.
Also I've been reading novels by Lisa See, courtesy of the Wellington Public Library and the app Libby. They're gripping, sensational novels about strong, complicated 20th century American-Chinese women. I'm sucked in each time, fascinated, aghast, touched—then a soap-opera chapter causes me to crash out. Temporarily.
I have also read umpteen books about the science of ageing. I might read Staying Alive: The Science of Living Healthier, Happier and Longer, by Dr Kate Gregorevic.
*Rachel McAlpine celebrated her 80th birthday by publishing a new collection of poetry, How To Be Old (The Cuba Press, $25).