Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Confessions Part II

For all you Usher fans out there, I apologise if you've found this post due to the title. It is clearly misleading. 

"There are bridges you cross you didn't
know you crossed until you crossed." Deep.
This post serves as a follow up to my last (proper) post in March. It's been a while. It's also been a while between today and when I actually started writing this post. And I am very aware of how much smack I talk, so apologies if you're bored by my ramblings. Just easier to type it all out here than talk to someone face to face and see their eyes glaze over. 

What's been going on? Not too much. I went to Melbourne with one of my best friends. It was super pleasant. Saw Wicked then Les Mis, hit up galleries, shopped in the places with the free wifi, ate dumplings and dim sum, watched as many World Cup games as possible, and lost money at the casino. We did well. 

As a result of this trip (which was in June/July) I have been listening to the Wicked soundtrack almost everyday. Once something is in my head, it takes a long time to go away. However, if I'm not listening to it, I'm listening to the Harry Potter audio books. I'm up to Prisoner of Azkaban. It's been less than 2 weeks since I started. I spend my time well.

My last post talked about wanting to work as an editor. So, last month I quit my job to take up a job as an editor at Te Kura - The Correspondence School. I'm just covering maternity leave, but I figured it's a good step in the right direction. Going well so far, great group of people, always learning new things I clearly never learnt at high school, and gaining invaluable editing experience. 

It is now September as I come to complete this post. I started it in June I think, so it's taken me a short while. I forget about the drafts, upload reviews instead, etc. I've also stopped listening to the HP audio books in preparation for our trip overseas (need something else on the plane, just in case).

My favourite.
Life's been busy too. Sort of. Work's good, actually being able to call myself an editor is rather satisfying. I spend my days editing the work students enrolled with Te Kura will be given next year. As I tell people, I'm learning all the things I never paid attention to in school.

I guess the more exciting thing is that it's exactly one month today until we leave for America. My partner will be running the NY marathon on November 2, while I eat bagels and drink coffee. Then South Carolina, Orlando, and Hawaii. 

I have no doubt my next post will be some time long after that trip, explaining how great Harry Potter Land is.

Until then,


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Book Review: Rough on Women: Abortion in 19th-Century New Zealand, by Margaret Sparrow

Originally published on the Booksellers NZ website.

I had several people ask ‘Why would anyone volunteer to read this book?’, during the course of reading it. It took me longer than usual to read; after reading about two deaths from apparent poisoning, the last thing I wanted to move on to was the heading ‘Kate’s death – wielding a whalebone?’ Following the success of Abortion Then & Now: New Zealand abortion stories from 1940 to 1980, Margaret Sparrow has created a thorough and, at times, harrowing account of New Zealand abortions in the 1800s.

No leaf has been left unturned in this book, covering abortion laws and practice in the 19th century, through to real and bogus doctors, and even self-abortion. Using any and every resource available to her, Sparrow has created a book full of real women and their real stories. With a fleeting reference to Minnie Dean, Sparrow explores the limited choices available to women, and the extremes to which they went after having an unwanted child. These included child farming, adoption, and infanticide. The latter provides a wealth of examples of women charged with murdering their own child – these women were often sent to gaol or a lunatic asylum.

The concept of helping others comes through several times in the book. Whether they were doctors turned abortionists, a neighbour being friendly, or an employer helping their domestic servant, these people faced imprisonment, as did the woman, if caught. Chemists played an integral part in the process too, often as the first port of call to provide “patient-friendly abortion services.”

While this book covers 19th century New Zealand (as expected), Sparrow devotes a chapter to ‘Lessons from history’. She takes the time to look closely at the history of the legislation surrounding abortion, and is critical of the our current laws – “New Zealand’s current laws are no better than those of the 19th century in preventing or controlling abortions, and this is not surprising.” Reading this sentence didn’t surprise me either; during university I remember one article of a student couple’s attempt to get an abortion on the grounds of simply not being ready or wanting the child. Why should a woman be forced to lie when simply she doesn’t want a child? And for exceptional cases? The argument of ‘what is an exceptional case’ will erupt, of course. But as Sparrow reminds the reader: “That rape should not be a ground for abortion is a shameful infringement of human rights.”

So why did I elect to review this book? Because, quite simply, it’s an important issue, and I believe we don’t talk about it enough. If you’d like a hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and all together gripping read, I cannot recommend Rough on Women more. Sparrow’s critical stance and outspokenness in this field makes me smile and hope that we will have a serious change for the better in the foreseeable future.

Rough on Women: Abortion in 19th-Century New Zealand
by Margaret Sparrow
Victoria University Press
ISBN 9780864739360

Friday, 27 June 2014

Book review: City of Lies – Love, Sex, Death and the search for truth in Tehran, by Ramita Navai

Originally published on the Booksellers NZ website.

“Let’s get one thing straight: in order to live in Tehran you have to lie. Morals don’t come into it: lying in Tehran is about survival.”

Searing words form a harrowing reality, giving the reader an excellent basis to start an exceptional book. British-Iranian journalist Ramita Navai tells the real-life stories of eight protagonists in City of Lies – Love, Sex, Death and the search for truth in Tehran. The sycamore-lined Vali Asr Street is the central setting, while the stories span over years.

Navai has created a remarkable non-fiction book. Her choice of stories may make the reader think they’re reading a collection of fiction short stories. Every now and then I remembered that these were true stories, throwing me in to disbelief and I found myself researching the author and book to ensure that these weren’t made up.

The Tehran in City of Lies is one made of gangsters, housewives, terrorists, and schoolgirls. Following extensive research and interviews, Navai has been able to bring the reader in to the world of an Iranian-American terrorist who has been given an important task, a schoolgirl finding love in an unexpected place, and a basiji making a life-changing decision.

The stories reveal a Tehran riddled with political, religious, social, and sexual contradictions. In one story, following her first encounter as a prostitute “she did not feel dirty or degraded. Just scared of God”. Navai doesn’t shy away from any topic throughout the book, and an open-mind from the reader is required. The ending of at least one story left me shocked, a ringing in my ears. Just be prepared. “This was the new Tehran, where tradition and class are blended together and trumped by money.”

Navai provides a short autobiography at the end of the book, which sheds further light on her relationship with Tehran. A glossary appears also, and is accompanied by her sources divided by chapter. The sources provide excellent information for the reader, but I suggest waiting until you complete all the stories before reading them.

With an excellent mixture of stories, characters, and settings that Navai has managed to track down and document, City of Lies is a must-read for any person interested in astonishing stories of human survival.

City of Lies – Love, Sex, Death and the search for truth in Tehran
Written by Ramita Navai
Published by Weidenfield & Nicholson
ISBN 9780297871316

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Student editing information and rates

Do you need assistance proofreading or copy-editing your essays, reports or thesis? 

Take a look below for student rates, my qualifications, and how to get in touch with me. 

If you're a student looking for someone to proofread your essay, I can ensure the document is in mint condition at a very good price. No job is too small or subject too complex. ESOL students welcome. 

I can work in a variety of formats - in hard-copy, using tracked changes in MS Word, Adobe inDesign (currently running CS6), and Adobe Acrobat (X Pro). 

What will I do?

Proofreading your work means I will:
  • check your spelling 
  • ensure your grammar is correct
  • remove any inappropriate usage of words (contractions, colloquial, etc.)
  • amend your punctuation usage. 
I will not:
  • write or re-write your work
  • check or do your references
  • ensure you are answering the question.
A proofreader checks that your work is free of typos and has correct grammar. My job is not to ensure you are answering the question or check if you've stayed in the word limit. This is copy-editing and will incur an extra charge (see below).

Student Rates

I'm here to provide students with a realistic option to ensure their work is the best it can be. I have been a student recently, and know that students can lose marks for basic spelling and grammar mistakes.

My proofreading flat-rate for undergraduate students is $40 an hour (charged in 15 minute increments). 

Rough pricing guide (based on hourly rate):

Up to 1500 words: $20
Up to 3000 words: $40
Up to 5000 words: $60

You'll only be charged for the time it takes me to complete your work. For example, if your 2000 word essay takes me 45 minutes, you'll be charged $30.

Postgraduate students

Please contact me to discuss a quote. I am happy to provide a two page sample proof of your thesis. 

Rough pricing guide:

Honours thesis (9000-12,000): $90–$120
Masters thesis (28,000-33,000): $170–$200

Most people charge by the word, or by the hour. Choosing me and a fixed rate for your thesis will definitely save you money.

Please note: the subject matter, length of the text, and urgency of work will be taken into consideration before providing a quote. 


If you'd like me to use a heavier hand on your work (cutting out words, querying what you've written), this will incur an extra charge, which can be negotiated. This will be a flat rate added on top of your proofreading quote. 

Note: Some work will take me longer than others, depending on the complexity of the subject – this will be discussed with you before the work is undertaken. 

Note: The average charge for proofreading is $60-80 an hour, and the average for copy-editing is $80-120 an hour. 

Why should you trust me?

I have a BA in English Studies and History from Victoria University, spending 4 years there writing numerous essays and assignments. Following this, I completed the Diploma in Publishing (Applied) through Whitireia New Zealand. I focussed on editing throughout my year, and now work as an editor full time at The Correspondence School. Take a look at my LinkedIn profile for further information. 


Great! Contact me via email at KimayaEdits@gmail.com - please provide as much information as you can, and we can meet in person to discuss if needed.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Book review: Thorndon, by Kirsty Gunn

Originally published on the Booksellers New Zealand blog.

I've mentioned previously I much prefer to read non-fiction over fiction – there’s something that sparks interest for me when I know what I'm reading is a true story. Delight came to me when I realised the slightly-smaller than an A5 book I’d been given to review intertwined fact and fiction perfectly. Excellent way to kill two birds with one stone. 

Published by Bridget Williams Books as part of the BWB Texts series, Kirsty Gunn’s memoir Thorndon Wellington and Home: My Katherine Mansfield Project stands proudly alongside other great New Zealand authors including Claudia Orange and Maurice Gee.

Thorndon beautifully recounts Gunn’s time in Wellington having been awarded a Randell Fellowship. Gunn comes home to the city she grew up in and swore to never return to, having set up camp in Scotland and London. "A couple of years ago I came 'home' to Wellington. I came at first alone, and then I brought my daughters with me."

Whether you know Wellington well or could care less about the city, Gunn’s account of her time spent as a Fellow here resonates with all who despise the place they grew up in. Her two daughters are able to attend the same school she did, create the same memory of the Zig-Zag stairs, and remember the way horizontal rain is created by wonderful winds.

Alongside her wonderfully written and easy to read account of Wellington, Gunn has intertwined quotes and extracts from Mansfield, as well as from biographies. A selected bibliography is included for any person looking for the place to start their Mansfield readings. Alongside these, Gunn's own stories she wrote while here sit perfectly. As a non-reader of modern fiction, I found these simply delightful to read.

Gunn has produced a simple yet effective book in Thorndon. She tells her own story, which could have been a rather dull subject, in a real and relatable way. I, for one, don't find myself particularly attached to the small town I grew up in, but something resonates with me every time I go back there. Gunn's account draws my thinking back to the words I wrote in that town, and makes me long to visit soon.

"Coming or Going. Leaving or returning. Whether dark or light, north or south, present or past… The words themselves are real. As I have written before, as I continue to write… The words themselves bring us home."

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Confessions of a blogging failure.

Why? Just because. Also seemed like a good time to change up the look of this blog.

I started this blog two years ago as a fresh publishing student ready to make my mark on the world. I used it as a place to review the sessions of Writers and Readers Week I'd managed to make it to on my student budget. It seemed like a good idea at the time. This turned in to reviewing anything I could get my hands on for Booksellers New Zealand. When I remembered, the reviews made it on here too. The post with the most hits was my review of Secrets and Treasures. Stunning book.

My year of publishing eventually ended, and I began volunteering with The Lumière Reader. Reviews, proofreading, transcribing, and an interview have been my (ongoing) legacy with the fantastic website.

I went through two jobs at NZICA over 13 months. I now pay my bills working for the government. Publications and Administration Co-ordinator is my 'official' title. I like it. 

Ultimately I want to work in editing, preferably proofreading and/or sub-editing, for an institutional press (university, museum, etc.). For now, I'm trying to pick up as many proofreading jobs as I can. I really do love proofreading (just not my own work).

Words in any shape or form build our entire culture and fill our society with more than we care to think about on a daily basis. 
I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do though. It's hard to be 24 and lock down a career path. I'm also aware I don't need to, but it's nice to feel like you know where you're going. 

I'm a big believer in if it's meant to be, it'll happen. However, I know that good things don't come to those who wait, but rather those who go out and work hard to get what they want. But if you try sometimes, you might just find you get what you need.

So, we shall just see what comes my way.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It)

For The Lumière Reader, originally published March 2014.

 'A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.’
Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene I
THE QUESTION that ran through my mind in the day leading up to this performance of Dmitry Krymov’s magical comedy: how do you create an almost two hour long show from three pages of one of Shakespeare’s great comedies?

While Pyramus and Thisbe’s story forms part of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the ill-fated lovers are best known through A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where their tragi-romance is acted out by The Mechanicals, an amateur troupe of actors. The title of this performance provides a hint—don’t expect this to resemble anything close to an ordinary Shakespearean production. Before the show started, an usher leaned over and whispered, “I hear there are a lot of surprises throughout this show, should be good!”
Commissioned for the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012, good does not begin to sum up A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It). Organised, perfectly executed, and chaotic come close.

The first thing you notice when walking in to the St James Theatre is the stripped-down stage, looking more like a gymnasium than a theatre, with a simple wooden floor and green exit signs glowing from the back. Never have I seen the stage so bare. A large chandelier lies on stage, baring undertones of The Phantom of the Opera. The evening begins with chaotic players lugging a large tree and a water fountain spraying water on the front row, through the audience to the stage, only to never be seen again in the next 90 minutes. Rather, the show focuses on the lovers, with a cast made of rough workers, black-tie spectators, ballerinas, opera singers, acrobats, and a show-stealing Jack Russell. With their own on-stage spectators, we find ourselves watching the play-within-the-play as Shakespeare intended.

Spoken in Russian with English subtitles, the large screens give the audience the translation they require, all the while providing subtle hilarity throughout the performance. “Pyramus and Thisbe were the first lovers,” we read. “They are the great-grandparents of epic couples including Romeo and Juliet, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and Bernard Shaw and Patrick Campbell.” KGB jokes are sprinkled throughout, as well as plenty of cellphone interruptions, and on-stage nudity.

The lovers are represented by two six-metre high puppets and voiced by wonderful opera singers. Towering over the cast and audience, Pyramus and Thisbe are hardly beautiful in any conventional use of the word. Hastily pieced together, the characters move around the stage as gracefully as possible, clearly possessing human traits, while maintaining brilliant mechanical elements.
Krymov’s show wonderfully blends high and low art to create something of a masterpiece from a short original source. Tired from laughing and craning around the audience to ensure I caught every minute, I walked away incredibly cheerful and amazed at the spectacle.

The Other Scarlett

For The Lumière Reader, originally published May 2013.
An interview with English novelist and Auckland Writers & Readers Festival guest Scarlett Thomas.
“A DELIGHT, not least for the quality of Scarlett Thomas’s writing,” Philip Pullman described Scarlett Thomas’s Our Tragic Universe, “Full of life and energy.” In 2011 Thomas was on the Independent on Sunday’s list of the UK’s 20 best young authors. At Unity Books on Tuesday, Thomas seemed to live and breathe her books, reading from upcoming The Seed Collectors. Kimaya McIntosh snares answers about Katherine Mansfield, Ethnobotany, and road signs.

*   *   *

KIMAYA MCINTOSH: Are there other Scarletts from the creative realms you like?

SCARLETT THOMAS: Do you mean do I like Scarlett Johansson? Yes. I think she’s hot.

KM: A common theme that pops up alongside your name is the devotion followers of your work show. What do you think is the secret to this following?

ST: This is impossible to answer! I don’t know. Perhaps they think I’m Scarlett Johansson.

KM: Tell me about a favourite author from New Zealand?

ST: My favourite New Zealand writer is Katherine Mansfield. Every time I re-read her stories I find something new. I particularly like ‘Bliss’, ‘Marriage a la Mode’, and ‘Je ne parle pas Francais’. I very much enjoyed the novel Electric by Chad Taylor a few years back. I really like Emily Perkins and am just getting into Eleanor Catton’s work, which is fantastic so far.

KM: What is your creative philosophy?

ST: My whole creative philosophy is explained in Monkeys With Typewriters, but in a nutshell: be authentic; be beautiful; be compassionate.

KM: Influences as a writer?

ST: Recent influences are the great writers of free indirect style, particularly Katherine Mansfield. Tolstoy and Chekhov are also big favourites.

KM: Between your novels and your short stories, is there a character you’ve created that you truly dislike?

ST: If I had, it would mean I’d made a huge mistake, and that the work was a failure. I’ve created some very flawed characters for my new novel, but I love each one of them with all my heart. I always ask my students if they love their characterseven the minor ones. Disliking a character is a sign that you have not worked hard enough on your characterisation. Of course I have created types and flat characters over the yearsbut I’m not proud of them.

KM: When you look at the defining features of your leading characters, they are drawn from you and your life, but which character would you want to be and why?

ST: Maybe Apollo Smintheus. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a mouse god? I wouldn’t say my characters are aspirational exactly, but I’d quite like to be Fleur from my new novel. She’s very beautiful and a bit weird.

KM: Do you have any words of wisdom for any budding creative writers out there?

ST: Remember that fiction is always about suffering, but that suffering can be funny as well as painful. Tell your truth in your own way and you won’t go wrong.

KM: You’re studying towards an MSc in Ethnobotany while working on your ninth novel, The Seed Collectors. Is this more than research for the new novel? What attracts you to Ethnobotany?

ST: I did begin an MSc in Ethnobotany as research for The Seed Collectors. I completed all my essays, but in the end decided not to do the dissertationI needed the time to work on the novel. I guess in a way the novel will be the dissertation! I learned some really cool stuff, particularly from the botany classes. There was a lot to learn, too, considering that I began from such an embarrassingly low level that I didn’t even know that flowers turned to fruit. Being a student againwhile at the same time being a senior member of staff in another departmentwas a real eye-opener, and I’m sure it has made me a better novelist. Basically, I got to see myself at my worst: competitive, shy, arrogant, unfriendly, fussy. As the teacher you are in control and that can hide a lot of flaws in your personality (as well as exposing a lot of others, probably). Being a student put me back in touch with the really horrible person I am inside. I was the one who didn’t want to get mud on my shoes, or eat the weird leaf we’d just picked. I cheated at the Fishing Game (designed to show how communities will naturally co-operate without legal restrictions), refused to drink from a cup everyone else had used when someone was demonstrating a ritual, and publicly berated an environmentalist for still eating dairy products. But examining one’s ego is what being a novelist is all about. The worst stuff makes the best (and funniest) characters.

KM: What’s exciting about coming to the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival, your first trip to New Zealand?

ST: It’s my first time in New Zealand, but I’m absolutely loving it. My partner is from here, so I’ve heard a lot about the place over the years. Obvious attractions are the beautiful fairytale landscape and the wonderful climate (I have not yet strayed from the North Island). I’m also enjoying your road signs. They’re much more philosophical than ours. Ours say things like ‘Keep Your Distance!’ Yours say ‘Think about what’s behind you’ without telling you exactly what to think or what to do about it.

Book Review: I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai

Originally published on the Booksellers New Zealand blog.

While some will have known her name before 2012, Malala Yousafzai has become a household name after she was shot in the head at point-blank range by the Taliban. Malala writes a rather powerful prologue detailing what she remembers and has been told about the shooting, titled ‘The Day My World Changed’, which I read on the bus on the way to work. The gunman asks a crowded school bus “Who is Malala?”, and she is shot. Tears welled in my eyes as I read the final line of the prologue “Who is Malala? I am Malala and this is my story”, and I struggled to continue reading in such a public arena, and so recommend reading this is a more private place.

Split into five parts, I Am Malala is a well-written, insightful memoir. It is full of powerful, and often harrowing, stories. Not only does it tell the story of Malala’s early life, her family and community, and her being shot, but it also tells Pakistan and the Swat Valley’s history, her family’s new life in Birmingham, and the struggles she still meets.

Malala tells the reader of her love for her father, but a few pages later, talks of walking out in the street and seeing the bodies the Taliban have left as warnings, with notes such as “Do not touch this body until 11am or you will be next” left on them. Malala recounts a trip to Abu Dhabi and feeling as if so many men were around her, “I told myself, Malala, you have already faced death. This is your second life. Don’t be afraid – if you are afraid you can’t move forward.”

She also is careful to remind the reader that she was not the only person shot that day, and tells how she misses her best friend Moniba. She explains that her new life is hard, “But like my mother I am lonely … The girls at school here treat me differently. People say ‘Oh, that’s Malala’ – they see my as ‘Malala, girls’ rights activist’.”

This autobiography was written with British journalist Christina Lamb. While reading this book, a friend asked how much I thought was written by Yousafzai herself. Books co-written with an author, or in this case one of the world’s leading foreign correspondents, often raises this question. However, with all the world knows about Malala Yousafzai, it’s hard to imagine she would let someone else completely write her own story.

The book is also littered with wonderful photos that give great insight in to Malala’s world; in the end, she is just a girl wanting to learn. The dedication, comprising of simple 16 words, made me stop and think hard about what I was about to read: “To all the girls who have faced injustice and been silenced. Together we will be heard.”

In a move that is probably not all that surprising, in November this year, I Am Malala has been banned by Pakistani education officials from private schools. They claim the book does not show enough respect for Islam and have called her a ‘tool of the west’. The president of the Pakistani private schools association is quoted as saying “Everything about Malala is now becoming clear. To me, she is representing the west, not us.” No doubt she will have taken great offence to these comments, but then again her interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart shows how amazing she is. Definitely worth a watch.

It is hard to believe this young woman, the youngest person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, shortlisted for Time magazine’s Person of the Year, who spent her birthday in the United Nations making one of the most powerful speeches ever to be uttered, is only 16. If this is her story up to 16 years of age, there is no doubt in the world’s view that Malala Yousafzai will change this world for the better.

I am Malala: The Girl who stood up for Education
by Malala Yousafzai
Published by Little, Brown
ISBN 9780297870920

Book Review: How to Sail A Boat, by Matt Vance

Originally published on the Booksellers New Zealand blog

Having grown up in Taupo, people make assumptions around my upbringing. They ask how often I went skiing, if I enjoy fishing, and how much time was spent on boats out in the lake. The answers to these are very few times, no I don’t, and not much at all. The extent of my sailing knowledge is when I capsized the tiny boat I was sailing for the first time at Kawau Island on school camp at 12. And this remains the extent of my sailing knowledge, as author Matt Vance points out “If you are now aboard and quickly leading through these pages to find out how to tack your boat, you are in trouble.” Rather than teach the reader how to literally sail a boat, Vance has created a fundamental guide to the body and soul of sailing.

Divided into sections ranging from ‘I see the sea’, ‘A most dangerous book’, and ‘Solo’, the thirteenth edition to Awa Press’s Ginger Series does not disappoint. Vance uses stories of his own sailing experiences to take you deep in to his sailing mind and manages to create vivid images of the ocean, even when on land. “My favourite time to think about boats is during meetings.  When I’m asked to contribute I have to be careful not to blurt out ‘Lee-oh’ or ‘She’s dragging’ in case I get taken the wrong way.” He takes you below deck in ‘The Rat Effect’ to share in the less than pleasant experiences aboard Siward, where the theory that too many sailors aboard a boat “the rat effect takes over: past a certain critical density, rats in a cage go berserk.”

“Just occasionally you may find a boat that is the love of your life. It will have many things, but most of all it will have indefinable beauty.” Vance’s relationship with Siward could be compared to the courting of a fine woman from a very strict father, however, in this case the father still actually owned the yacht and Vance made constant attempts to buy her off him. Slowly he wore the owner down, being allowed privileges over the years, and his persistence eventually finally paid off with while the owner selling some of his soul to allow Vance to buy some of his back.

The section ‘Sailors’ was a particular favourite, giving an insight in to Vance’s views of the different types of sailors. There are, he explains, two types of mariners: tinkerers who enjoy working on their boats and engines but don’t enjoy sailing, and the small minority who have been “over the horizon”, which Vance clearly falls in to. On top of this, he notes that 90% of boats are rarely sailed, merely given maintenance every year or so, and the true sailors equate to about half of the remaining 10%. The section ends with the tale of a lovely couple (husband in white pants and wife in a sailor’s felt cap) declaring over chardonnay “Of course we wouldn’t keep our boat here. The cruising in Marlborough Sounds is far superior”. Deafening silence follows.

The book closes with a list of ‘Dangerous Books’ every budding sailor should read, and a very detailed glossary for all those readers who, like me, had no clue of the definition of some of Vance’s stunning words. There is no need to have an in-depth knowledge or sailing or boats to enjoy. This simple sentence sums up Vance’s life as a keen sailor and loving member of many families both related and not, and in itself is a succinct summary of this book: “‘Where’s your family?’ chirped the smallest. I pointed to the yacht. Heraclitus was right: some things had changed. I smiled. I wept.”

How to Sail a Boat
by Matt Vance
Published by Awa Press
ISBN 9781877551857