I noted on my Facebook page that the lovely Chris Brickell was talking about his new book at the Dunedin Zinefest.  I know nothing about Zinefest.  When Chris produces a new book I tend to stalk him until I get a copy.  A professor in Gender Studies at the University of Otago he has published two books contibuting to the gay history of New Zealand men.  This is his third is a self-published volume.  I decided that this counted as a book-launch and attendence would count as today’s divertisement.

First task was to track down the address at Black Star Books in Moray place.  It wasn’t too hard.  Wandering around upper Moray Place I reminded myself as I approached it that the sign for Black Star books was at the drive-way for the courtyard behind the Corso Building.  Indeed I found Chris standing outside.  Neither of us knew where to go further.  Chris made enquiries.  A flight of sloping steps with a rickety bannister at the back of the Corso Building led up to Black Star Books.  It regretted not having my camera with me to record the charm of its unorthodox architecture.  I find that that is one of my comment complaints.  I’m never prepared to think ahead to have it with me when I want to take a photo.

Black Star Books didn’t seem to me to be a bookshop as the name implies.  It has a library including a shelf of its own samizdat publications, appropriate for a Zinefest.  Black Star Books seems to be the successor to classes for working men and women of a previous generation in Dunedin.  The centre for the Zinefest was held next door in the motel foyer used to house Interact.  Here there were young people mingling.  Chris’s workshop was held in the front room of Black Star Books, a enlarged space in the apartment above the Corso Building Cafe.  His demonstration talked about his desk-top preparation for the book on computer, then publication through Dutybound in Dunedin.  The final binding of the book had only been completed that morning at half past ten.  (Eeek!)

Still it was my pleasure to be the first person to buy a copy of this title.  It is a beautifully made, hard-bound book with good binding.  It is sized like a notebook.  I understand that Dutybound has a good selection of notebook volumes and the book is styled like one of them.  It is proof as I had heard previously some years ago that Dunedin is a good place to get book-binding done.

I keep stopping as I write to flick though the book’s pages and its images of men together, both suggestively erotic and in open camaradery.  I was glad when I heard that Chris was selling them for $40 each as I knew I had that money on me and wanted to spend it on a copy.  It is number 21 of a run of 120 for the first edition.  I look forward to showing it to staff members of the Presbyterian Archives and the Hewitson Library on Monday.

Afterwards there was opportunity to share in a lunch of baked potatoes, vegetable stew and fresh bread at the main floor of the Zinefest.  It was a nourishing lunch, right for the middle of the day.  I was glad to attend to support what Chris is doing and validate his work.

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