We're excited to announce the publication of our first new book for 2015: Tracey Slaughter's novella The Longest Drink in Town. Ever since I first encountered her work and - shortly afterwards - Tracey herself, when she came to teach for us at Massey, I've considered her one of our very finest writers. I remember well driving out to Thames with my friend and colleague Jenny Lawn for the launch of Tracey's first book of stories and poems, Her Body Rises, published by Random House.
Tracey Slaughter, Her Body Rises (2005)
Bronwyn shares my love of Tracey's work, so a while ago now we began to moot the exciting plan of putting out one of her stories ourselves, as a little chapbook - and a taster, now, for the more substantial collection Deleted Scenes for Lovers due out from Victoria University Press in 2016.
So, to make a long story short - this was no exception to our usual practice of going through a long series of different layouts and other possible design solutions - earlier this year we set out to find a cover image. First of all we checked out Thames. No dice - the photographs insisted on coming out too picturesque (though Bronwyn did get some nice ones in the picnic area down by the waterfront). Then we drove on to Paeroa.
Just along from a lovely little cafe down a side-street, we found these two gnomic arrows. I'm not sure what their author intended them to mean, but they seemed perfect for our purposes: genuine graffiti, but with a kind of ragged edginess to them - a bit like Tracey's story, in fact.
Rather than tell you a lot more about it, I'd prefer just to quote from the blurb:
Like William Faulkner’s tour-de-force As I Lay Dying, Tracey Slaughter’s hard-hitting novella The Longest Drink in Town traces the history of a single traumatic event against the backdrop of small town life. Her characters seethe with anger and lust – with a strange, wistful tenderness persisting within them, however hard they work to conceal it. This is a major work by one of our most accomplished short story writers. Follow the arrow and open the page.
Tracey Slaughter’s first collection of poems and short stories, her body rises, was published by Random House in 2005. Her work has been widely published and anthologized, and received numerous awards, including the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award (twice). She lectures in Creative Writing at Waikato University.
In his judge’s report for the 2014 UK Bridport Prize, novelist Andrew Miller commended her mastery of “the difficult art of selecting the telling moment, the detail that speaks,” praising her for her “determination to find what is luminous in what is plain.”
The cover design, including the brilliant graffiti font, was done for us by our good friends Ellen Portch and Brett Cross of Titus Books.
If you'd like a copy, you can order one from us here on the website. Alternatively, if any of you happen to be In Palmerston North on the evening of Friday 17th April, please feel free to come along to our "Off the Page" writers event at 6.30 pm at the Palmerston North City Library.
I'll be chairing a panel on short-stories, with renowned writers Owen Marshall, Jaspreet Singh, and - Tracey Slaughter. Books by all three of the panelists will be on sale, including The Longest Drink in Town. It'd be great to see you there.
Tracey Slaughter (2014)
The Longest Drink in Town is available in an initial print-run of 100 copies.