Farrar is back in the saddle, tickles up Catton in open letter

Arts, Travel & Lifestyle blogger David Farrar is back from his hectic travel schedule to sledge Eleanor Catton for her silly comments made to a bunch of Indian luvvies.

Fortunately when not travelling or watching plays because someone has given him a free ticket our pinko mate has moments of political brilliance, and today is one of those days.

He tells Catton to put her money where her mouth is.

Also I noted last year you said you would be happy to taxed at 40% to help young Kiwis. You may be unaware of this, but you can voluntarily pay more tax than you are obliged to. Just calculate the extra 7% on your income and send it to The Treasury, 1 The Terrace, Wellington and I am sure they will send you a receipt.

Good onya Pinko, great to have you back.

It still won’t get you back in the VRWC.

The bottom line is Eleanor Catton has taken subsidies, grants, assistance and an award from this country and now she chucks dirt on it. Perhaps with her massive book sales and resulting increase in royalties she might like to pay it back, otherwise she will just be another arts bludger luvvie on the lash courtesy of the taxpayers.

Meanwhile all the luvvies  and arts bludgers are up in arms, it must be just hours away from a leftwing boycott of Sean Plunket’s radio show…I wonder what his missus will have to say about that if it happens. She can hardly complain when she is in favour of bans against my advertisers.


– Kiwiblog


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  • OneTrack

    She should follow the example set by all the AGW zealots who all pay an additional $5 a liter Carbon Tax when they put petrol in their car. Because we need to save the planet. They wouldn’t be so hypocritical as to not pay it just because nobody else does? Every little bit helps as they say.

  • Jas

    What you tend to find with the ban and boycott brigrade is eventually they look stupid as one of their fellow ban and boycotters brigade tends to be involved with something that they would want to ban and boycott normally but they won’t.

    The other ironic thing is a Green party supporter talking with Indian Luvvies about arts funding when they would be part of group thet Greens depise ie the wealthy who use cheap labour and are non environment friendly.

    • sheppy

      The lefties never let double standards get in the way of getting outraged or acting stupid

  • Bobb

    She says it is an individual award and implies that it’s wrong that we (the NZ taxpayer) want to share in the glory. Even if that were true, she conveniently forgets or ignores that the NZ taxpayer GAVE HER LARGE SUMS OF MONEY to enable her to develop her talent. Ungrateful cow!

    • Cowgirl

      She also says we bash “tall poppies” like herself, but in the next breath she says we all try to claim her award collectively. Well which is it then? Do we bash her or draw national pride from her achievement?

      • Dave

        Lesson there for the government, don’t ever refer to her, or mention her, her books or anything about her again. And wait for her to complain she is being ignored.

        Actually, perhaps it’s time to publish ALL the support she has had from Government, financial and otherwise, then work out her net tax contribution. That might wake up her green mates

  • MaryLou

    Heh – Cam your article yesterday on John Keys reply is now quoted as fact in the comments:

    “……..“At the moment, New Zealand, like Australia and Canada, (are dominated by) these touchy-feely, self-obsessed, very egotistical, very publicity-hungry authors who do not care about the economy. She cares about reputational gains. She would rather write an obscure and hard to read book for her elite arts luvvies rather than provide educational work or something that will benefit the population at large” according to Whaleoil.”

    Missed the point, somewhat? I’m sure Mr Key will be pleased to know what he said!

    • johcar

      I nearly posted a “Where’s the satire hashtag?” comment on that article but then thought that no-one would be stupid enough to think it anything else.

      Looks like I overestimated the intelligence of journalists, trained and skilled….

      • MaryLou

        That wasn’t Farrar it was one of his commenters. Pretty sure Farrar has read enough of WO to have got the drift!

        • johcar

          I almost feel I should apologise to journalists, trained and skilled…

          But I won’t – we won’t have a new dawn before they get something else completely wrong…

          • MaryLou

            No, don’t do that. 99% of the time you’d have been right!

    • R&BAvenger

      Deliberate reporting of satire as fact in order to smear the PM and stire up more hate. Plain and simple.

      • MaryLou

        But it wasn’t Farrar! It was in the comments. Someone who reads both blogs…

        • R&BAvenger

          Yes aware of the fact is was in the comments, my mistake to attribute to the MSM as reporting as fact.

    • Steve

      I wouldn’t mind betting that in 10 years time sarcasm will be added to the list of legal wrongs along with slander and libel and defamation. Next will be humour.

  • In Vino Veritas

    I somehow doubt that Catton’s book has sold enough copies to get her the royalties she needs to have a decent income. She’ll continue troughing the NZ taxpayer, whilst bad mouthing the country, because bad mouthing is what the Greens do when they can’t get their way. On top of being economic numpty’s, they are childishly immature. And may I just say on that note, in my shrillest voice “gimme back my flag, gimme back my flag…… oh someone, gimme back, gimme back my flaaaaaag….”

    • Rusty B

      Use it as a doorstop perhaps?

      • WeaselKiss

        I’m waiting for the condensed Readers Digest version ;)

        • Rusty B

          The door will go straight over it!

    • DavidW

      She conceded that last year’s income was .. more than the suggested $140,000 threshhold for a 40% arts-tax to kick in. Perhaps she just needed to kick the publicity level up a notch to give a boost to book sales considering that it is rumoured that sales have been flat and the reprint run size is turning out to be a bit of an embarrassment.

    • MrSukon

      With sales of well over half a million I would suggest income is not a problem.
      Maybe you should set your sights on the real ‘troughers’ who will say everything is marvelous about the country for a few bucks.

      • In Vino Veritas

        MrSukon, book royalties are usually (1) a flat fee, (2) royalty or (3) advance on royalty (with further royalties should the book do OK).
        Most authors take option 3 so they get an advance, and even if the book bombs, they get to keep it. A niche book like Cattons would probably get her a max of $1 per book. So at best, she’s made $500K pre tax. Now, on the face of it, it looks like a large chunk of cash. Take into the fact that she’s had pretty much no income before hand, and given that her other published book was 2008 (no good), and The Luminaries was 2013, and its 2015 now and no new book in sight, that’s $71k per annum pre tax (at absolute best). And if it stretches another five years till her next successful book, she’s down to $40k per annum pre tax. And given that she has bleated about NZ tax not being high enough, she’ll undoubtedly have made a voluntary tax payment further chewing into her funds. I’d say income is a significant issue.

        • Dave

          Her call IVV, perhaps she could have taken a job in the Green Party head office as a writer, or the cosmetic counter in Farmers, she could have earns more that way, it’s not the Taxpayers fault she can’t churn out a book a year. Oh sorry, it must be John Keys fault.

        • rustyjohn58

          Actually I know the author of a best selling NZ book and he tells me the fee is an up front payment up to so many sales (say 20,000 for example) and then 10% of retail cost after that. So on print versions it more like $3 per book, not insignificant.

          • In Vino Veritas

            Yep, that’s (3) advance on royalties + future royalties. And it entirely depends entirely on what sort of book it is rusty. As I said, a niche book is unlikely to attract $3 a book. Is The Luminaries a niche book? Probably, since if it had not won a Booker, it would have achieved a whole lot less sales than it has. If you were Stephen King, then I’d agree. And, there is the possibility that she took a flat fee given the fact that she’d had no success previously, a bird in the hand and all that.

        • Ilovelife

          I’m sure you realise she also had a $60,000 scholarship and has numerous study and travel grants and a couple of residencies. Lets be honest, writers are merely doing something that they love and which massages their egos. They are not doing anything for the good of humanity.

  • Moonroof

    That was a well assembled piece from DPF – read it yesterday, worth a couple of minutes to read in it’s entirety. This line is a cracker “You’ve got every right to express your views on such an issue, and it is
    ridiculous Sean Plunket has called you a traitor. However could I
    gently suggest your timing and location is a bit churlish.”.

  • LesleyNZ

    Good on David for saying it as it is. The irony is that she said her sad silly comments in India ………………

  • la la land

    Does anyone else find it ironic that she is grizzling about the NZ Govt not supporting literary arts while she is in INDIA – a country with no social welfare!
    She must be blind.

  • Michelle

    Love the piece written by David wonder if it will filter over to the MSM, tui

    This woman is very confused and suffering from spoilt child syndrome not wanting to share her successes

    Most Kiwis would be proud to think the whole country was behind them l don’t see Lorde saying anything like that

    Catton is an embarrassment and could learn a thing or two from Lorde and Ko and many others not stand with hand out while whingeing, note she didn’t do it here but on the other side of the world, gutless, l wonder who paid for that trip?

    • Dave’s not here man.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Lorde becomes a Green Party mascot for the next election when she will be able to vote. Remember the bed time stories with Lorde and Catton?

      • Ilovelife

        I would expect…and hope…Lorde has more sense

  • Bombastic

    Great piece. But to give some context, there are a lot of Greens out there who are still very angry at the election result. Despite their re-doubled efforts with Dirty Politics, they went backwards and the neo-liberal, profit obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry (I’m warming to that label) lot stole their election. I’m sure there is a psychology textbook waiting to be written.

    • andrew carrot

      And now Wussell’s got the time to write it! And the taxpayer will subsidise the cost of this endeavour by paying him a Parliamentary salary.

  • Cadwallader

    Given her credibility in this money hungry land has ebbed I suggest she sets her next dollop of dross in Syria with financial assistance from ISIS. To help her venture further I recommend she market her next stately tome as “The Satanic Verses Part Two.” It will surely be an explosive success. Her royalties will stretch from this world to the next.

  • 1951

    David said it well. Eleanor expressed her opinion which in turn helped many of us form an opinion of her, which hasn’t been all that positive. David’s open-letter just cemented that opinion in my mind. No changing it now.

    • Bobb

      You are right on the money. She has done herself enormous damage with her petulant statements. Her standing with working NZ will have plummeted.

  • JC

    I think about half a million copies have been sold.. 100,000 in NZ. Seeing as NZ has about 1% of the population of the Anglosphere thats a hell of a high proportion of the locals who have bought the book compared to the normal 3% of NZers who read NZ fiction.

    I read a good few of the Amazon reviews and maybe two thirds liked Catton’s wordsmithing skills but were disappointed in the book overall.. quite a few couldn’t finish reading it.

    What slightly bewilders me is the many intellectuals who say we are a cultural desert because we don’t support our local writers.. yet if we read just our local writers they’d say we were isolated buffoons unaware of the outside world.

    Be that as it may, the reason we read so much of the worlds books is we are curious and go for the best rather than just local chaff.. at 1% of the Anglosphere its inevitable we will read vastly more stuff produced overseas.


    • Whitey

      I read the first chapter as a free sample and won’t be buying the book. It was nicely written, but at the end of the chapter the characters still weren’t showing any signs of doing anything interesting.

    • Another Middleagedwhiteguy

      “Two thirds of reviewers . . . were disappointed in the book overall.. quite a few couldn’t finish reading it.”
      So I’d bet that probably two thirds of those who bought the book here were disappointed in it and couldn’t finish reading it either.

      The reviewers wouldn’t have paid for the book themselves, so they were lucky.

  • Reaper

    I like the comment “If an All Black in 2008 had got up at an international test match and devoted his after match comments to how much he hated the nanny state policies of the then Labour Government, well they would have been criticised greatly also.”

    He makes a very good point there. I can’t imagine an All Black doing any such thing.

  • CheesyEarWax

    If Catton really cares about the arts and literature she should use her achievements to influence the government and administrators, but instead by fronting for the Green party, she comes across as their mascot and any opinion is seen as personal political ideology rather than what she wants for her profession. If she really cares, she should stop fronting for the Greens. The same goes for the likes of Lucy Lawless and Robyn Malcolm.

    • Another Middleagedwhiteguy

      Oh, but they are the privileged few, the self-chosen ones, auto-entitled to judge themselves as better and wiser beings than the rest of us blind and misguided masses.
      And they believe in democracy too, just so long as they do all the guiding.

  • Whitey

    I thought David Farrar’s letter was very good, and I particularly liked the last bit where he suggests she could voluntarily pay 40% tax. I wonder if she will? Or does she think that 40% tax is something other people should pay? I’d say we all know the answer to that.

  • Captain Darling

    Farrar’s letter is a classic example of where being polite, sticking to the facts and not getting emotional gets the message across a lot better than the angry rants so often seen in these situations.

  • Andy

    The recent Aussie Booker prize winner was a similar whinger, saying he was “ashamed” to be an Australian

  • Alexander K

    I am an ‘Arts professional’, but not in literature. I read about 5 to 6 books per week for my own pleasure and have always done so; I attempted Ms Catton’s opus, and found it to be both pretentious and almost terminally boring. I was a bit sad because I am convinced there are many great novels yet to extracted from NZ’s colourful past, but (in my opinion) the book in question is not one of them.
    I was quite disgusted by her criticism of this government’s support for the arts, which appears to be quite generous to me, for a small country such as ours; she has had a pretty fair ‘lick of the (state) lolly’. Perhaps some-one in government voiced an honest opinion of her book within her hearing and she took umbridge. As far as I am concerned, she should write books about Canada as an incumbent there.

  • Genevieve

    Eleanor misses out on yet another award! This is a nice piece of satire in the Civilian ( just ignore their awful logo)


  • Catriona

    She should have shut her mouth and said nought!

  • Jafarma

    I think it is more of a case of not putting money where her mouth is i.e. to follow the adage of don’t bite the had that feeds you, it time the taxpayer stopped providing the food