Stephen, you have published this [Nigel Cox on C.K. Stead] before – I remember reading it here some time last year but it vanished after a day or so. What happened?Several other people have asked about this over the last few months. The answer is too long to go in the comments, so here goes:
In October last year, after several hours of scanning, OCRing, proof-reading and so on, I posted on this blog Nigel Cox’s article on C.K. Stead from the July 1994 issue of Quote Unquote the magazine, having first sought and received the consent of his literary executors. I’m not sure that legally I needed to – copyright in commissioned magazine articles generally belongs to the magazine, which to all intents and purposes is now me; on the other hand, the article was Nigel’s idea, so that makes it a grey area; and on the third hand it matters to me that the lit. execs are happy.
Next day, I received an email asking me to unpost it. This wasn’t from CK Stead himself but from one of the lit. execs who had heard from him that he was not happy about it. This is how things are done in the literary world – don’t go direct, but apply pressure to someone vulnerable who can apply the pressure where you want it.
Now, Karl and I have had a cordial relationship for quarter of a century – I have always enjoyed his company and he has always been civility itself towards me. But I guess he knew that in my years at Metro I developed a pretty robust attitude, so that if he had asked me directly to delete the post I would have used the celebrated Arkell defence, devised by Private Eye. (At Metro we did do that once, I think in reply to Michael Reid QC.)
Anyway, I took the post down, not wishing to cause any distress to the lit. execs or, indeed, to upset Karl unnecessarily.
When the lit. execs told him I had deleted it, he replied, “Well I wasn’t angling for this.” So I could have put it back up, but other things intervened and I didn’t get around to it.
That’s how things remained until the Sunday Times reported on 28 March that:
The 77-year-old CK Stead, New Zealand’s finest living writer, has won The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.And then I read the story, “Last Season’s Man”, which is clearly based on the Cox article and Stead’s reaction to it at the time. Obviously the elderly author in the story is not literally Karl, any more than the younger writer is literally Nigel. But you’d be hard put to slide a piece of tissue paper between them.
And now, 16 years later, Stead has scored ₤25,000 for his act of revenge.
UPDATE: Anthony Hubbard at the Sunday Star-Guardian covers the story here.