Saturday, February 09, 2008

Duncan Fallowell: 'NZ not a philistine hellhole'

This letter from Duncan Fallowell was published in New Zealand's Sunday Star-Times recently in response to the controversy over his (still) unpublished Going as Far as I Can: The Ultimate Travel Book ...

Dear Sir,

I was very saddened to discover the caricature of my travel book which appeared on your front page. You presented a few specific remarks about specific things as my conclusions on the country as a whole and this was terribly unfair, especially as the book has not yet been published and people are not in a position to make up their own minds about it. I did not describe New Zealanders in general as 'fat and ugly'. Nor did I call your country 'a philistine hellhole' - I was as shocked as you that somebody else had done so.

I spent four years working on this book and funded it with my own money and without knowing who might publish it. Would I do all that on a place I regarded as nothing? The result is not the mean thing you imply it is, but a deeply engaged, human and, I hope, humane piece of work.

Life is not black or white, nice or nasty, and neither are countries, and yes, I have been robust at certain points (and even more so with Great Britain). I was particularly upset by the destruction of the historic centres of New Zealand's cities, carried out not long ago by a group of developers, 'the needless destruction of fine things by blind, philistine men' as I put it.

This is the only use of the word 'philistine' in the entire book and more than justified in this case. If my book gives a boost to the conservationists trying to halt further destruction I shall be delighted and so, I suspect, would be the majority of New Zealanders.

My journey through New Zealand was strange and magical and I am still haunted by it. This isn't only because of the geography. It is also because of the history which deeply connects our two countries. I trust my book conveys this.

Yours faithfully,

Duncan Fallowell


surfpup said...

But where's Dunc's bloody book then? They all seem to know about it. Nobody's seen it.

Madame Arcati said...

This is a sound question, it's not out till Feb 21. Yet as I write academies are running courses on the book. Indeed, I hear students sit in tutorials with an imaginary copy of the book in front of them, blowing raspberries and generally hurrumphing. It's certainly a fast track approach to education.

Ms Baroque said...

Well if the government's proposals around the funding of tertiary education go through, this could be the way forward.