I was proud to introduce Richard von Sturmer's memoir This Explains Everything when it was launched by Atuanui Press last November in Onehunga. The Listener gave the book the thumbs up, and now Steve Braunias at The Spinoff has published a generous excerpt, as well as a photograph of Richard's father looking remarkably silly.
Richard's publisher asked me to write a blurb for This Explains Everything a month or so before the launch at November. My summary of the book didn't get used, perhaps because it was typically wordy, and wordy blurbs are bad blurbs. Here it is, anyway:
Richard 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. 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.
Richard 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. He 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...