On a blustery Wellington Monday lunchtime a standing room only crowd filled out Unity Books Wellington for readings and ruminations from authors Adam Dudding and Nick Bollinger.
Both writers published books near the end of last year which tread the line between intimate and public worlds. Bollinger’s Goneville, published by Awa Press, is an exploration of becoming a young man in a rapidly changing musical and political world. My Father’s Island, published by Victoria University Press, is a story of discovery, picking apart family mythology and inherited stories. Both are books that explore ideas of memory, masculinity, journeys to adulthood and a fundamental shift that happened in New Zealand culture in the second half of the 20th century. They also both feature excellent photos of large transit vehicles.
Nick and Adam began the event with an “analogue slideshow” accompanying extracts from their books. While extracts from Goneville were read by Bollinger a series of A1 cards were held aloft by Dudding, illustrating the visual and material culture of the 1970’s that was being described. The process was then reversed as Dudding read extracts from his book detailing pivotal moments in his childhood, accompanied by a series of portraits held aloft by his colleague.
The authors then had a discussion about where the lines are when writing about matters that are both public and private. They also talked about what their respective intents had been when they started writing. While Bollinger began writing a social history and found memoir slipping in, Dudding started off constructing a memoir and found the outside world opposing it on his narratives.
The session ended with one more reading from each author. Dudding had the final word, reading an essay about his mother which reminded us all of the power of private stories in a public sphere.
You can purchase Nick’s book Goneville here and Adam’s book My Father’s Island here, as well as in store.
Words and pictures by Rob Kelly