Once that podgy bloke with the attempted comb-over has raved about Epeli Hau'ofa's essay 'Our Sea of Islands' and pretended to swat flies with his copy of brief, Michael Horowitz cracks a couple of inscrutable jokes and reads from his new novel DownMind, Murray Edmond recites his classic poem 'Von Tempsky's Dance', and Niulala Helu's kava band grooves for a few short minutes. (Why was the mystery cameraman, who was prepared to put up with that podgy bloke's long-winded introduction to the evening, so quick to abandon Niulala and his bandmates, when they were making such a beautiful sound?)
A couple of weeks before the launch I had suggested that some of the bibliophiles who contribute to brief might consider gifting a few of their surplus books to the small and struggling library of Tonga's 'Atenisi University. Last Saturday 'Atenisi Director Sisi'uno Helu was delighted by the sight of punters hauling box after sagging cardboard box up the stairs of the Onehunga Workingman's Club. By the end of the evening two hundred and sixty-one volumes were ready to be transported to my place, where they're now waiting to be reboxed and shipped north to Nuku'alofa. Several book-lovers who couldn't make the launch have promised to stop by and add to the hoard in my living room.
Richard Taylor's donations to 'Atenisi's word-hoard deserve special mention. Dennis Wheatley's The Satanist is one of a series of novels which inspired the cult Hammer Horror film The Devil Rides Out. The fly-leaf to The Satanist announces that Wheatley regards 'Black Magic' as a thing 'too dangerous to dabble in', and claims that his book is designed to 'disclose to the public' the 'full horror of Satanism' and its 'menace to the innocently curious'. Such protests look rather disingenuous, though, when set beside long, luridly detailed descriptions of nubile maidens cavorting with horned Gods during occult rites held in church vaults or forest clearings.
Futa Helu loved to confront and provoke his more conservative countrymen, so he might well relish the possibility that one or two of the clergymen of Tongatapu will eventually get their hands on such theological classics as The Satanist and De Sade's Philosophy in the Bedroom.
Aneirin eventually picked a favourite of his own from the 'Atenisi-bound stash.
[Posted by Maps/Scott]