The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 9 (January 1, 1934)
Among The Books — A Literary Page or Two
Freelance journalists are apt to be sorry for themselves because they find editors are so unimpressionable, lukewarm, obtuse or pachydermatous—there is a wide range of depreciatory adjectives in use—that they cannot accept or even appreciate a good literary contribution when they see it.
Long experience of freelances urges me to say a word on behalf of the maligned editor.
The freelance, when the divine afflatus hits him in the occiput, “dashes off” his matter, and sends it, post-haste, without attempting to polish it up. Half the manuscript submitted for publication bears evidence of hasty or slip-shod work. Words are mis-spelt, quotations are inaccurate, proper names are incorrectly spelt, or illegible, and the meanings of some phrases or sentences are lost in ambiguity. In the case of typewritten copy, the lines are often so closely jammed together that sub-editing—and the best of copy must be sub-edited always—is impossible without re-writing.
Many freelances complain that when they submit Mss. which already have been rejected by some other paper, their contributions are inevitably turned down again, because they bear suspicious evidence of previous failure. Sometimes this reproach may be deserved, and for that reason it is safer to send in Mss. which are free from editorial marks or the pin-holes and foldings which denote much handling.
But if the freelance contributor to the press will only write clearly and distinctly, with plenty of room between the lines; if he will leave ample room at the head of his first page, and write his name and address on his Mss. instead of on an unnecessary covering letter, his “stuff” has a better chance of being sympathetically considered than that of the slovenly writer who uses an indecipherable scrawl and submits untidy, ragged copy, on any old piece of paper he can find.
Above all, freelances should remember that all editors are looking for the kind of stuff they printed in the last issue—only a better quality.
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I had an argument the other day as to which is the longest word in the English language. Quite a number of jaw breakers were entered, but I have since happened on a word that beats them all. Here it is (take a long deep breath please):—
I found the little chap in a chemical list. Can any of my readers beat it?
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To mark the occasion of Wellington's big National Confidence Carnival Will Lawson produced an artistic Souvenir. The cover design by M. Matthews was a finished bit of work, full of the right carnival spirit. Will Lawson paid his tribute to Wellington in a colourful poem and in appropriate prose. Photos of Wellington, of the central executive and of the princesses were nicely balanced with the remainder of the letterpress. The Commercial Printing Co. made an excellent job of the printing.
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A young Dunedin artist, G. S. McAuslan, has produced a small eight-page magazine called “The Cartoonist.” I should say he is a line cut enthusiast. The whole effect of the miniature magazine is very interesting. I would like to see it develop. Meanwhile I consider it worthy of a place in my collection of first numbers. The production sells at 3d. a copy and the editor's address is 24 Helena Street, South Dunedin.
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Another interesting item in my collection of first numbers is the first and only issue of “The Pio Pio Post.” I doubt very much if there has been another newspaper in the history of New Zealand journalism fated to begin and end with Vol. I., No. 1. The all too brief history of “The Post” has been told me by its erstwhile proprietor, Mr. J. H. Claridge. Before Mr. Claridge's “Post” scheme reached maturity, he had instructed an Auckland agent to sell his printing plant. The selling of the plant appeared so improbable that Mr. Claridge decided to get busy and oil up his machinery for the literary enlightenment of the good folk of Pio Pio. In the rush of getting out the first issue he quite forgot to withdraw his plant from the market. The first issue of “The page 50 Post” was just steaming hot on the streets when a bombshell came in the form of a wire from Auckland that the plant had been sold. In vain did Mr. Claridge endeavour to cry off the deal. The purchaser was adamant and that is why the people of Pio Pio saw only one issue of their new newspaper.
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The most cherished of my literary possessions is a complete set of the old “Lone Hand.” The set I have, took four years to complete. I scoured all the second-hand bookshops in New Zealand for missing volumes and finally I wanted one volume to crown my labours. I had given up hope when business called me to Sydney, and there, on an obscure shelf, I came across the precious link. I doubt if ever again there will be collected such a wonderful array of purely Australian and New Zealand literary and black-and-white talent. The “Lone Hand” was too good to last, and although it is dead and gone it reflects one of the brightest periods of Australian art and letters.
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A most interesting booklet has been published by the New Zealand Journalists' Association, to commemorate the “coming of age” of the Association and its constituent unions. Apart from the complete record of the Association and its activities in various parts of New Zealand, the book contains photos and interesting reminiscences of personal press experiences in New Zealand. The Editorial Committee consisted of Messrs. L. Jillett, G. L. Stanbrook and R. A. Kenner, all of the parent Association in Auckland.
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“For Those That Love It,” by Mrs. M. R. White (Angus & Robertson, Sydney). A fine novel redolent of Australia. The author came prominently before the public recently with her “No Roads Go By,” which is already in its fourth edition. Her latest novel should eclipse even the success of the earlier one. Price 6/-.
“Pat of the Silver Bush,” by L. M. Montgomery (Angus & Robertson, Sydney). It is said of the author of this charming book that no writer seems to understand so beautifully just what is needed for developing womanhood. This is a great recommendation in itself, but when we remember that Miss Montgomery is the creator of “Anne of the Green Gables,” of which over half a million copies have been sold, her latest book is assured of a tumultuous reception. Price 6/-.
“Australian Barkers and Biters,” by Robert Kaleski (Endeavour Press, Sydney). I know little about dogs myself. I like bull-dog pups, keep a safe distance from all Alsatians, tell my children stories about the famous St. Bernard dogs and find tons of humour in the street mongrel. In view of this I sought the advice of a dog-loving friend of mine about this book. He declares that it is the most interesting and instructive dog book he has ever read in a decade. Need I say further? Price 4/6.
“The Quiet Man,” by Maurice Walsh (Angus & Robertson, Sydney). This story is a classic. About 12,000 words in all, but such bovrilised perfection. A story of an undersized Irishman who subdues a fellow countryman of grand proportions. The love romance of a man after his marriage, and—his sweetheart is his wife. Dont' miss this exquisite story. Price 2/6.
“New Zealand Best Poems of 1933” (Harry H. Tombs Ltd.). All lovers of poetry—good poetry—will welcome this the second annual anthology of New Zealand verse. The selector, both for this and last year's booklet is C. A. Marris, a poet himself, and a critic of worth. This Dominion is certainly prolific in poets and there is work in this anthology that will live, notably that of Eileen Duggan. The work of Eve Langley is interesting. Robin Hyde is powerfully bitter in “The Wayfarer.” I liked the selections from the work of Alan Mulgan, and, of course, the thoughts of that fine woman who lives in Cashmere Hills, Christchurch, Miss Jessie Mackay.
“Camel Pads,” by R. B. Plowman (Angus & Robertson, Sydney). This is another book from the author of that fascinating story “The Man from Oodnatta.” The story under review is supplementary to the earlier book, being a further tale of the Big Back Country of Australia. It is most interesting reading. The book is illustrated and sells at 6/-.
“Douglas Delusions,” by F. J. Docker (Angus and Robertson, Sydney), is a critical examination of the Douglas Credit System. The Douglas School has many adherents in New Zealand. I think this work will give them food for deep thought. Anti-Douglas-ites will of course go into raptures over Mr. Docker's most interesting reasonings. Price 4/6.
“Australian Bush Babs,” by D. H. Souter (Endeavour Press, Sydney), is a collection of appealing little jingles slung together by the famous creator of the Bulletin “Cat.” The accompanying illustrations by the author are a delight. A great Xmas two-shillingsworth.
They Came Through Smiling.
Bill: “Hello, Jim. How's the family?”
Jim: “Fine. The children have never been better.”
Bill: “I suppose they had their usual crops of colds during the winter.”
Jim: “Not this year, Bill, we made a bird of every cold that showed up with good old Baxter's Lung Preserver. You can imagine the worry and trouble it saved the wife and me.”
Families large and small have a great friend in “Baxter's,” so palatable, so effective. 1/6, 2/6, 4/6.*