I'll be speaking - briefly, let me add - at the launch of Richard von Sturmer's autobiography, This Explains Everything, next Wednesday.
Von Sturmer is one of New Zealand's most versatile intellectuals. He has written hit pop songs, acted in a famous feature film, made his own movies, published acclaimed books of poetry and prose, and lectured and written about Zen Buddhism.
In This Explains Everything von Sturmer reveals some of the origins of his creativity and restlessness by telling the stories of two members of his family. He describes his grandfather's adventures in Australia's Western Desert, where he tried to get rich during the Great Depression by prospecting for minerals. Ernest von Sturmer's near-suicidal journeys gave him a reputation: an Outback policeman once refused to shake the explorer's hand, for fear that he might be a ghost.
In another section of This Explains Everything von Sturmer recalls an alternately idyllic and eerie childhood on Auckland's North Shore, on a strip of half-rural land between the volcanic waters of Lake Pupuke and the Waitemata harbour. Von Sturmer's celebrates his father, a man who struggled with guilt and depression, yet also loved to play surreal games and hatch complicated jokes. This Explains Everything ends with a series of poems and song lyrics that bring together many parts of the von Sturmer family story.
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]