Somewhere in California or Tuvalu or Oregon or parts unknown, stacks upon whirring stacks of magnetic data storage pile e’er higher the records of our every social transaction and PDFs of the novels we swear we’re going to finish. We all know the Internet is Making Us Stupid and Killing Religion and slowly irradiating tomorrow’s children out of existence right through the crotch of our jeans, but thanks to all-pervasive online backups and wayback machines, nobody’s cat-picture addiction is going to vanish overnight. So, the heroic Messrs Snowden, Greenwald et al. notwithstanding, we’re probably going to be staring at this thing for the foreseeable future.
But even as we bleed our hearts out over the culture’s shared inability to leave the prefix cyber- back in the 1990s, it’s worth remembering that plenty of things aren’t marooned in the cloud. That lecture you wanted to quote from in an email you were working on? Offline only. The Shortland Street story arc that provided decades-out foreshadowing of last night’s cliffhanger? Well come on, of course that’s not online. The perfectly preserved volume of local verse, waiting for you at the end of the shelf right at the back? Why would that be online?
“We’re interested in intersections both in the political sense and the mixed-media sense,” says Emma Barnes, co-founder of Cats & Spaghetti Press. Emma and Pip Adam, author of the Victoria University Press-published Everything We Hoped For and I’m Working On a Building, launched Cats & Spaghetti out of a desire to share work that, as Emma puts it, “might not always get published because it’s a bit weird or in a different format. Stuff that maybe needs a different approach or is more multimedia.”
It’s content that brought its own container, print media that resists the transition to PDF, words that care about the paper they’re printed on. The imprint’s first offering — Pen Pal, a one-off pamphlet of poetry from Sugar Magnolia Wilson — launched earlier this month at a reading-slash-launch-party to mark the birth of Cats & Spaghetti’s first text-slash-artefact. You can reach Cats & Spaghetti Press via — ahem — Facebook for leftover copies.
Meanwhile — and elsewhere on the Internet — the Children & Young Adults’ portion of the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards will be announced on 23 June. A triple showing from Wellington kid-lit powerhouse Gecko Press sees new work from Joy Cowley and Elizabeth Knox nominated in the Junior and Young Adult categories (Cowley’s Dunger and Knox’s Mortal Fire, respectively), as well as a nod for Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis’s irresistible Toucan Can. They join Porirua educator Gay Hay’s second collaboration with illustrator Margaret Tolland, Watch Out, Snail!, also nominated for Best Picture Book; as well as the likes of Karen Healey’s second work of ingenious young adult fantasy, When We Wake — a clever far-future update of Sleeping Beauty, skilfully extrapolated from all the most pressing concerns of our own cyber-inundated day and age.