Speaking Frankly: The Frank Sargeson Memorial Lectures 2003-2010, edited by Sarah Shieff, (Cape Catley Ltd, 2011), 200 pp., $31.99.
The industrious Dr Sarah Shieff has recently added two books to the growing collection of Sargesoniana — the superbly selected and edited Letters (a book so solid it would stop a .22 bullet, and a tome I warmly recommend), plus this additional more modestly packaged collection of lectures. The list of writer-contributors includes many of Sargeson’s close associates and supporters.
In 1978, four years before Sargeson’s death in 1982 (when the youthful Shieff played the clarinet at his funeral), that never-less-than-scrupulous editor of the literary magazine Islands, Robin Dudding, edited an extensive, indeed exhaustive-seeming, selection of appreciative comments about our senior man of letters: at the time still perky at 75. The Dudding Islands assemblage featured some 38 contributors in a special section titled ‘Tributes, Memories & Commentaries’. Additional tributes were included under Reviews. If this was the resource from which Shieff might validly have drawn her lecturers she would have found that — at my approximate count — some 25 have now shuffled off this mortal coil.