Answering Questions about Soon
Soon is the fourth in a sequence. It is a sequel to my previous novel The Night Book, which is about a NZ National party Prime Minister called David Hallwright. But the sequence actually first started with my short story collection Opportunity. This is a series of interlinked stories in which the character of Simon Lampton, the main character of Soon, first appears in a story called The Doctor. Simon Lampton reappears in my next short story collection Singularity, in stories called The Night Book and Nymph. His brother Ford, who features in Soon, first appears in my short story collection Opportunity and then reappears in Singularity. I used the short story in Singularity, The Night Book as the first chapter of my novel, The Night Book – which led one reviewer to describe that first chapter as self plagiarism.
There was no sun, there was nothing new under the sun, but few sights are as unchangeably beautiful as the colours of Doubtless Bay: gradations of white, grey, blue, green as the sea shades into the Far North sky. Above the vast stretch of moving water the gannets scan the surface, plummeting with a white flare. At Whatuwhiwhi we were a party of seven: two adults, three children, son's girlfriend, daughter's boyfriend. Gales whipped the bay into a mess of foam and flying water, then the wind died and the sea turned calm under the low grey sky. My brother-in-law, Dave Grimshaw, the TV helicopter paramedic, now home here and working in Kaitaia, turned up one evening and described, with relish and in comic detail, the challenge of a Far North ambulance callout: locations remote and obscure, communications liable to fail. In the dark, in the middle of nowhere, armed with map and torch, Dave drives his ambulance into the unknown. 'The people are lovely,' he said, 'if you can find them. And if you show them you care.'
SOON LAUNCHED IN NZ
SOON WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE UK BY JONATHAN CAPE IN JULY 2013
"Opening the pages of Charlotte Grimshaw's new novel Soon is akin to tilting the blinds in a dim room; the razor-sharp precision of her words floods your mind with crisp, searing light, such is the vivid clarity of her prose." - One News TVNZ
"Soon is a brilliant, chilling and timely read." - Hamish Keith
"You shouldn't get the impression that Soon is simply political satire... Grimshaw is going deeper... Soon's almost a thriller, going places that you didn't expect - a thriller with real ethical weight. A thriller that sets up - just as The Night Book did - one hell of a cliffhanger ending." - Philip Matthews, Metro
"The tension, explored in Grimshaw's last novel, The Night Book, continues to be a major thread in Soon, which nonetheless stands on its own as a story... Grimshaw is a supremely stylish writer with a knack for devastating character sketches." - Next Magazine
"Soon is incisive, clever, wickedly funny and political...a must read for all of us at this time." - Stephanie Johnson in The NZ Listener
"A superb New Zealand novel - Grimshaw's bold and biting satire on the present political situation in New Zealand. She dares to examine the lives of the beautiful, privileged people of our society and challenge their attitiudes and values. Exhilarating!" - The Herald on Sunday
"A novel about class and aspiration in contemporary Auckland, Soon shifts gears and becomes a gripping thriller. Its behind-the-scenes views of fictional National Party mandarins on holiday feels both hilarious and terrifyingly accurate." Dominion Post Best Books of 2012
She starts drinking every day before noon. None of her children has a real job. Mired in a culture of entitlement, always needing a handout, she drains the coffers of the state. Her photo looked down at me from the wall of the train: England's top beneficiary, Queen Elizabeth II.
I was on my way to a party thrown by London publishers, Faber. In a huge, hidden garden behind Southampton Row, owned by another monster of entitlement, the Duke of Bedford, the crowd mingled and murmured. There was a striped marquee, there were Chrissie Hynde and Jarvis Cocker, there was Alan Hollinghurst making his solemn way through the green dusk under the trees. The actress Miranda Richardson, looking vague and fey, absent-mindedly stroked the flank of a statue of a leaping fawn.
Online: Interview with Jim Mora and reviews
Me and Germaine Greer
Let's begin with the tea towel. I was at primary school, one of three children of a stay-at-home mother. Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch had become a bestseller, and women's liberation was very much in the air. Back then, in our house and in the houses of my friends, one of many instances of domestic tyranny was the ironing pile. These days it seems to me a form of madness. Why iron a handkerchief or a pillow case at all? My
On Greg King
I met Greg King when he was the guest speaker at a Wintec lunch, a grand occasion held in a room overlooking the beautiful, broad, slow Waikato River. King spoke at length and without notes. He had a way of pausing and peering at the audience, no doubt gauging, with minute and professional sensitivity, the effect of his words. He was a mass of contrasts; he managed to look melancholy and at the same time amused; he was jovial, funny, wry, serious.
His use of language was eerily familiar to me. Once, long ago, I lived with a criminal lawyer whose verbalising was strikingly like Greg King's: quaint, Dickensian, articulate and persuasive yet studded with grammatical inaccuracies and malapropisms. I remember a postcard from my lawyer that announced, "I am here in Venice, amidst the pageantry." My favourite Greg King line was his similarly dramatic cri de coeur on behalf of Ewan McDonald, "Why? Why, in the realms of Christendon (sic) would my client do that?"
Facing The New Reality
All over the Christian world they are praying for Christopher Hitchens. Reality has struck him, in the form of a diagnosis. He has cancer, the outlook is grim. He denies that God exists so they pray for his soul, on their knees, hands clasped. They hope for a conversion, the unctuous fantasists. It's so hard to see anything good in them.
He does not embrace Christianity. Nor does he lie around at home. He takes a private plane. They're on their knees and he's flying, crossing America on a tour, debating the existence of God.