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July 17, 2017 | by  | in Books |
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The New Animals — Pip Adam

Some weeks ago I conducted my first interview with a published writer in a café when the sun had gone down. It was utterly glamourous. We spoke for an hour and a half and failed to discuss her book. When I made clumsy attempts to direct the conversation towards it, she wasn’t that interested. She said later that she moved on emotionally and mentally from each book once printed.

Our conversation didn’t want to be confined to a conventional interview structure. She was a writer, I was a writer — we were something like Green Gables’ Anne and Diana, kindred spirits. It was a great kind of relief to talk to someone who understood the weird, specific oddities of writing books; the oddities that my mum doesn’t 100% relate to, even though she enjoys my rants. Pip inspired me. She made me think that I might not be delusionally ambitious after all. She was amazingly happy that I wrote, and I could see the teacher in her.

I know as many New Zealand authors as I have limbs. I have all my limbs, but no more than that. She could list them for days, names that meant nothing to me, but to her they were the lifeblood of New Zealand literary culture. It was nice to see this, because I think New Zealand writers have a complicated reputation in that they often don’t have any reputation. She had a contrasting opinion that was much more optimistic and excited for them.

In a lot of reviews, especially of young celebrities, the reviewers will describe their surroundings in effervescent language — the light caresses her softly blushing skin with transcendent lightness, like the streaming sunlight through the windows of the Louvre follows the white curves of the Venus de Milo… We drank steaming mugs of leafy tea, just two human beings alive for a moment in a quiet bubble of serenity as the L.A. Traffic screamed past the window, as if to cry, how dare you be at peace?

So, I don’t want to do that.

But we did have drinks, and she spilled hers and was apologetic, called it an ocean’s tide when it began to slowly flow down the tilted table top towards me.

That was her: polite and impassioned. We discussed postmodernism, how David Foster Wallace blew her away with his non-fiction and then stressed her with his novels, but she still loved him. She loved the struggle of writers, the tearing away at the innards to get at the truth. She loved the poetry of language. She had dropped out of high school at a young age, she wasn’t a typical bookworm, but she’d fallen for this writing thing and it was a source of joy.

I was sent the blurb of her book before the interview:

Carla, Sharon, and Duey have worked in fashion for longer than they care to remember. For them, there’s nothing new under the sun. They’re Generation X: tired, cynical, and sick of being used.

Tommy, Cal, and Kurt are millennials. They’ve come from nowhere, but with their monied families behind them they’re ready to remake fashion. They represent the new sincere, the anti-irony. Both generations are searching for a way out, an alternative to their messed-up reality.

Pip Adam’s new novel walks the streets of Auckland city now, examining the fashion scene, intergenerational tension, and modern life with an unflinching eye. From the wreckage and waste of the 21st century, new animals must emerge.

Pip said to me that it was funny how when you publish, people will suddenly rush to explain to you exactly what your book is about. I can only hope that it will happen to me someday.

Thank you to Pip for being gracious enough to agree to speak with me. It was a delight. To everybody else, either read this book or please, don’t be afraid to write your own.

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