Ralph McAllister Writes Again

cattonI Told You So…Almost!

(and how The Listener got it wrong…Completely !)

By Ralph McAllister

Nice to be able to crow, just occasionally.

A couple of months ago I suggested that The Luminaries had every chance of winning the Man Booker.

We all know by now that Eleanor Catton did win the world cup of literature with this,her second novel.

Interesting to read her first,The Rehearsal, a story about teaching and learning ,truth and illusion,a mixture of crude jokes and puzzling confrontations.

I read The Rehearsal last week in Brisbane just before the Booker announcement and I was as impressed and frustrated as many others with this strange and mesmeric story.

No such doubts about The Luminaries.

On hearing the news my whoops of joy must surely have been heard across the Tasman.

I wonder if there will be some doubt surfacing  in some critics’ minds now that this accolade ,along with fifty thousand pounds, has been bestowed on Catton.

Years ago when both Bruce Mason and  I were drama critics for the Evening Post and The Dominion respectively we saw and reviewed a German play ,the title of which escapes me now.

I loved the show. Bruce, dear friend, hated it.

Bruce was so impressed by my opinion that he revisited the play immediately and wrote another piece the following day admitting that he was wrong and I was right.

Now I tell you this story ,not for any reason of self aggrandisement, but just to point out that sometimes we are wrong and ,unlike Bruce,we are

loathe to admit it.

The Listener review of The Luminaries, amongst some grudging praise, suggested that the novel  had a “lack of ambition” and Catton was like other

New Zealand writers “escaping into the past” and often the writing was “out of control” and finally “hollow”.




What do you think?

Ralph McAllister

Dear Mr McAllister,
I have been endeavouring to contact you regarding the review of the Mozart concert in Nga Purapura late last year, as we were very pleased to have some comments on our combined performance and appreciated your positivity. (The Kapiti Independent News doesn’t make it easy to contact reporters altho I respect the fact that you like your privacy)
Kapiti Chorale is performing a southern hemisphere premiere on May 1st of Hiawatha, an epic oratorio by composer Robert Hansen, who is coming all the way from the US for the concert. We would be delighted if it is possible to give us some publicity. It will be performed in Paraparaumu College auditorium at 3pm. Our wonderful soloists include Jamie Young singing the role of Hiawatha, Ellen Barrett, Elisabeth Harris, Imogen Thirlwall, Roger Wilson, William McElwee, Brenda Vale and John Strode-Penney. An orchestra of 32, Concert master Liz Sneyd,
and a children’s choir under Bridget O’Shanassy will accompany the performance. Tickets $30