Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: A turn-up for the books

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  • Danielle,

    I write as a veteran of last weekend's PA plagiarism wars ...

    I would call it PA's 'plagiarism skirmish'. Or perhaps, like the Korean War, a 'police action'...

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Rang my local bookshop (the very good "Take Note" in FJG if you're interested) and the assistant - who is also the resident carver (these little details of local colour add - something) put aside the only copy the shop had ordered...yes, he'd heard a bit about the raruraru on this morning's tv (no idea what show) with 'the Penguin bloke saying something.'

    Thus, fame & issues of great & clashing moment in these far-off wopwops-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    Fiction writers can't use footnotes? Maybe some fiction would have its flow spoiled by footnotes. Endnotes maybe?

    Infinite Jest? Of which a large proportion of the 300+ endnotes are citations to a pharmacological dictionary (ab)used by one of the characters to find new and novel ways to get off his nut... and the rest are bits of narrative left out of the main text specifically to mitigate spoilage of the flow. Bastard of a book to actually read though, wonderful as it is.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I would call it PA's 'plagiarism skirmish'. Or perhaps, like the Korean War, a 'police action'...

    Come on, it was a domestic contingency operation at best.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    I think it's worth pointing out that Lobachevsky was in no way a plagiarist -- Lehrer just like the way "Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky was his name!" scanned.

    Here's what Wiki has to say, Stephen:

    Lehrer chose Lobachevsky mainly because his name was reminiscent of Stanislavsky's, also because during the peak of the Cold War it was fashionable to denigrate anything that had to do with Russia (then the USSR). Lehrer himself made it clear that he intended no malice to the real Lobachevsky—he stated that he used the name for "purely prosodic reasons".

    Werner von Braun came off worse ..

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 825 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Prince,

    Am I the only one who hears the phrase 'historic fiction' and thinks of the lovechild of Bryce Courtenay and Jeffrey Archer?

    I didn't plagiarise in any of my essays when I studied... I was too lazy to read the original text, let alone something someone else might have written about the book, but anyway that was in the '90s, before plagiarism existed...

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Pynchon has been known to make extremely elaborate use of others' work, but in a genuinely imaginative way. Eg the North Africa bits in V apparently owe a lot to an old Baedeker he'd picked up;

    Pynchon's been perfectly up front about his creative lifting. In his comments in the short story collection Slow Learner he refers to 'the old Baedeker trick", when discussing the place and period versimilitude of 'Under the Rose', much of which later became incorporated into V. He even exhorts others to do the same. Interestingly enough, the notoriously reclusive Pynchon is much more open about his creative processes than Ihimaera has lately shown himself to be.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Am I the only one who hears the phrase 'historic fiction' and thinks of the lovechild of Bryce Courtenay and Jeffrey Archer?

    I'm a little surprised that it's taken this long for Courtenay's name to pop up :)

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Am I the only one who hears the phrase 'historic fiction' and thinks of the lovechild of Bryce Courtenay and Jeffrey Archer?

    No, you are not. The mania for historic fiction, even among literary authors, is depressing. What happened to now? Why do authors like Ihimaera and McEwan have to write books that require research and the use of other people's writing? Had they stuck to writing contemporary fiction they would have done so in their own words and not become plagiarists.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Also, not all non-fiction has notes. Lower level textbooks mostly don't.

    George Dangerfield's "The Strange Death of Liberal England", a classic of its kind, has not a single footnote or reference in the entire book. Since he was writing around 20 years after the events, he may have written the entire book from personal recollection, but I doubt it.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    Wondered how long it would take the Great Lobachevsky to make a showing here.

    Pynchon certainly knows how to write a historical novel -- perhaps The Trowenna Sea v2 will open with the lines "A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now." No-one would spot it, surely? (Except our resident comparatists, I guess.)

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 268 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Care of David Cauchi, a great little programme on plagiarism from the CBC Ideas programme hosted by Paul Kennedy. Scroll all the way down to In Praise of Plagiarism.

    Jolisa might be interested in the observation that plagiarism hunters historically have been a very poorly regarded group.

    What Jonathan Lethem says from minute 15 onwards is quite relevant to historical novels.

    ETA It doesn't get Ihimaera off the hook whichever way you slice it, mind. Still, quite an interesting wee primer.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Pynchon certainly knows how to write a historical novel . . .

    V features an orrery - a model of the solar system, complete with Pluto - in a scene set in 1922. Other than that, yeah, plus you get occasional lashings of deliberately anachronistic steampunk.

    Pynchon appears to have been plagiarised to some extent by the dodgy Carlos Castaneda. There's an account in one of the Don Juan books of the art of lucid dreaming that's a little too close to an episode from the much earlier V. While the Castaneda version is presented as dead-serious shamanism, Pynchon's tale features the lucid dreamer unscrewing his navel with a significant screwdriver, and waking to find his ass has dropped off.

    Any belly-laughs in The Trowenna Sea?

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    The mention to World War in 1917, as pointed out in one of the reviews.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Any belly-laughs in The Trowenna Sea?

    Mmm, not really, but a few giggles. Page 91, Hohepa speaking :

    ...while modesty forbids me from talking too much about my appearance -- after all, a man should not look into a mirror, as does a woman, to seek pleasure in his reflection -- I was told by many a young girl that I was attractive to look upon.
    [...]
    My contemporaries, who accepted that I was a leader among them but did not want me to get too whakahihi, liked to cut me down to their level by saying, "You may be tall but your ure tangata is no bigger than ours."

    Well, anybody's ure tangata would be small if he spent as much time in the water as I did! My friends would have been somewhat shattered, though, to realise that it could treble in size when aroused.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Oh, the CBC doco cites Lethem's very interesting Promiscuous Materials Project.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    My friends would have been somewhat shattered, though, to realise that it could treble in size when aroused.

    Lawks, he's skating towards the Bad Sex Award there.

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 174 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    I confess, I did crack up at the line "It is 1917, and World War I continues to alarm us." Also, the two moments in which the kiwi is glossed as "the native bird of my homeland." (Just in case you thought it was a Chinese gooseberry or something).

    And there were quite a few moments along these lines (p235):

    Ahead was a jewel sparkling in a sea of indescribable beauty; dark purple, pink, streaked with layers of gold and deepening to vermilion. Just below the surface was a layer of pink jellyfish, like a bed of aquatic flowers strewn across our pathway. Then, leaping, spraying high, came a school of great giant whales to create an avenue of arching rainbows.

    And p295:

    The sea... filled with dark purple spheres like many crystal glasses spilling their rich wine into the currents. Swelling to the brim, it stilled for a moment. Then the sun, ascending further, transmuted those empurpled swirls into a shimmering pathway of gold and crimson.

    NB definitely original. Except that the dark purple spheres/crystal wine glass line is so great that it's used at least twice in the course of the novel, perhaps three times.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Ahead was a jewel sparkling in a sea of indescribable beauty; dark purple, pink, streaked with layers of gold and deepening to vermilion. Just below the surface was a layer of pink jellyfish, like a bed of aquatic flowers strewn across our pathway. Then, leaping, spraying high, came a school of great giant whales to create an avenue of arching rainbows.

    Hopefully he can add unicorns in v2.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Wine-dark seas? How Homeric.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    dark purple spheres/crystal wine glass line

    Has someone perhaps missed the figurative meaning of 'purple prose'?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Hopefully he can add unicorns in v2.

    I'm guessing he has this on the wall of his writing studio.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Has Witi, I wonder, ever been at sea and *seen* a mass of jellyfish?*
    I've seen a lot, from tepetepe ('bloodclots') to by-the-wind-sailors and none of them looked the least like 'a bed of aquatic flowers'... o, I am looking forward to reading 'The Sea of Trowenna' (but maybe not for the reasons Professor Ihimaera would like in an ideal reader...)

    * these 'small-refrigerator sized' models sound neat - as does the lion'smane of Alaska...aue! I will continue to try to embed-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    ur, 'great giant whales' eh?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Has someone perhaps missed the figurative meaning of 'purple prose'?

    Or embraced it, and gone right over the top with it. Reading the book was like being at a Prince concert, only a little bit less sexy.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

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