An Absurd Ambition by Eric H. McCormick

By Eric H. McCormick

Eric McCormick was once, from approximately 1940 until eventually his demise in 1995, one in all New Zealand's such a lot amazing writers and students. He pioneered the appreciation and learn of the painter Francis Hodgkins, and he wrote a number of biographies. The autobiographical fragments accumulated right here were edited to make a coherent quantity, tracing his origins in Taihape, to college and collage in Wellington, to schoolteaching in Nelson, to Cambridge and during his wartime reviews and function as editor of Centennial courses. It comprises his clever observations of social behaviour, recorded with a dry wit.

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Quite as often, on the other hand, she laughed while she cleaned and polished and baked and sewed. She was far more sociable than my father and loved to entertain. She always peeled an extra potato in case someone called, always kept a bed ready for the unexpected visitor. She had a legion of friends in the town and its surrounding district — Mrs Kearins and Mrs Cryer, her neighbours when she lived on the hill, Mrs Sinclair and Mrs Goodrich, who were both farmers’ wives, Mrs Sexton in Carver Street, Mrs Wrightson in Kaka Road, Mrs Little just up the road from us in Hautapu Street — to name only the more intimate.

Adams’s Maoriland (another present from Auntie Emma) — meant little to me. A one-volume Shakespeare yielded even less, though I was fascinated by the name Cleopatra (which I mispronounced Clepatora) and recollect my pleasure in finding Lambs’ Tales (partly, no doubt, because of the title). Not surprisingly, I could make nothing of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Rights of Women nor of Cruden’s Concordance nor of an ancient encyclopaedia. What I really liked were illustrated narratives — H. M. Stanley’s In Darkest Africa, The Story of the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress — or fiction of any description — the works of Mrs Henry Wood (my mother’s favourite author), Talbot Baines Reed’s My Friend Smith, Hall Caine’s The Woman Thou Gavest Me, Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue.

In his grief after Myra’s death, Eric accused himself of having taken her for granted: his call to me was an attempt to make amends. He had admired my book about my wife, Shaking the Bee Tree, and hoped I might do something similar for Myra. I was doubtful about the prospect, but owed so much to Eric in many ways that I could not brush it aside. Nor, in view of his frail health, could I plead pressure of work (though that could have been justified) and suggest waiting for a couple of years. I said I would visit him and look over the available material.

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