Martin Edmond is a busy man. In the last two years alone, he has had four books published by three different publishers. He is the 2015 recipient of the Michael King Fellowship. And on Thursday 15th October, his latest book was launched at Unity Books Wellington – memoir The Dreaming Land, published by Bridget Williams Books.
After welcome and introductions from Unity staffer Becky Popham, Ingrid Horrocks spoke. She talked about finding herself in a rut of sorts a couple of years back, needing some kind of creative nonfiction stimulation. And she knew that the writer she needed to go to was Martin. ‘A few of us agreed he didn’t get enough attention,’ Ingrid said, ‘but now he’s the man of the moment.’
With regard to the book, Ingrid said ‘it’s a distinct pleasure to enter Martin Edmond’s world,’ referring later to ‘its moving, human presence’ and its ‘search for an authentic self’. ‘Martin has his own whole brand of nostalgia.’ Everything she shared about her experience of the book was utterly captivating – and managed to strongly evoke the same sorts of feelings that we would experience as a crowd when Martin read from his book later on.
When Martin’s turn at the mic came, he gave us a little rundown of how the book itself came about – and the various attempts that happened before this final successful result came into being. Fragments of an initial failed attempt have made it into The Dreaming Land, as well as one of his other 2015 publications, Histories of the Future.
He talked about the ‘impulse to set your memories into some kind of order’, and the experience of growing up in 1950s New Zealand, something he described as being ‘a shared life’ for those who went through the same state school system in an era where people would get on the bus having all listened to the same song on the radio beforehand.
After Martin read from the book, Tom Rennie of Bridget Williams Books was the final speaker of the evening, thanking all those involved in making the book and the launch itself happen – wrapping up a beautiful evening of family, words and memory.