Jackie Ballantyne

Journal

Month: September, 2014

The Silver Gaucho takes off

Mobile barbecue in Mendoza

Mobile barbecue in Mendoza

Ricardo Güiraldes Criollo Museum and Park

Ricardo Güiraldes Criollo Museum and Park

It’s three weeks since The Silver Gaucho was launched and already copies of the book have crossed oceans and continents. Readers in Australia, Argentina, United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and Spain are now following (or have followed) Lockie Steele’s adventures. Thank you to all those loyal readers.

I was looking for some pics for a presentation this week and came across this one taken in Argentina in 2007. We were in Mendoza  and came across a barbecue on the back of a truck. The smell was tantalising.

And here I am in San Antonia de Areco (if you’ve read the book this will be familiar). I’m taking a breather in the Ricardo Güiraldes Criollo Museum and Park – and no doubt I’m reading about gauchos.

So – where will The Silver Gaucho travel next?
I’ll keep you posted.

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Bronwyn launches The Silver Gaucho

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On Thursday September 4, inimitable bibliophile and book reviewer Bronwyn Wylie-Gibb launched The Silver Gaucho at University Book Shop in Dunedin. I am indebted to Bronwyn for her keen reading and observation of my work. Here’s what she said at the launch.

I was slightly scared when Jackie gave me a copy of The Silver Gaucho to read, as I had reacted so viscerally to How To Stop a Heart from Beating, that I’d immediately rung the publisher, and demanded and insisted that we do a launch for this debut novel by an author I’d never heard of, and that they would have to pay for it. I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy The Silver Gaucho as much.
But I was also very curious. The Silver Gaucho was already of the edges of my consciousness – I’ve heard Jackie read parts of it and she has talked a little about the character and Argentina so I was also curious to see how the story unfolded. Turns out that I loved this book too and that despite its name, it’s not about The Silver Gaucho at all. The mystery of who and what it is about is beautifully written and quietly revealed.

It starts in 2001 with the death of the Silver Gaucho, an Argentinian TV hero, whose loss devastates the whole of South America, and then jumps back to 1998 to introduce Lockie Steele, a Dunedin-based travel writer exploring Argentina – she meets the Silver Gaucho and his family, and the tale then moves between Argentina and New Zealand, between pieces of Lockie’s travel writing and Lockie’s own experiences.

I liked the glimpses of Dunedin, especially the Santa Parade, learning about horses and polo and the Otago Cavalcade which I didn’t really know about as I am frightened of horses. I enjoyed meeting Solly again, the young girl from How to Stop a Heart from Beating, who is now all grown up and living in Port Chalmers – she is Lockie’s boss and, as of old, is still a truthteller. I also enjoyed Jackie’s observations of Argentina, particularly its more obviously stratified and codified society.

Lockie Steele is a strong, complicated character, negotiating her somewhat damaged and fractured family and her own sometimes hard to manage discontentedness. There is a slight edge, a sliver of darkness to Jackie’s writing, it points up the moments of joy in her novels, and underlines her characters’ everyday lives, without ever falling into gothic angst. Jackie is particularly good at what she doesn’t write, I really enjoyed the various absences in this book of characters who we learn about from other characters but whom we never meet ourselves. Jackie is also masterly at surprising the reader, planting the odd sentence or idea that is revealed as devastatingly important many chapters later. I loved the originality of this book, I laughed often and was taken by suprise and tears at least once.

Read reviews by Bronwyn Wylie-Gibb here: theubsreviewofbooks.wordpress.com

Book Review: The Silver Gaucho, by Jackie Ballantyne

Available now in bookstores nationwide. 

Jackie Ballantyne worked in advertising in Australia and then began writing fiction. Shecv_the_silver_gaucho has won awards and commendations for her short fiction. Her first novel, How to Stop a Heart from Beating was published in NZ in 2007. She currently lives in Dunedin.

This book opens with the breaking news “El Gaucho de la Plata esta muerto” –“The Silver Gaucho is dead” being flashed on all the television screens in Argentina. Luis Felipe Alessandro Mabon who played The Silver Gaucho in a popular television series has been killed in a traffic accident on 9 November 2001.

The story then flips back to 1998, to the events preceding Luis Mabon being killed. Lachlyn Steele, known to all as Lockie, is in Argentina doing research for a travel book on Argentina. Her books are called “snapshots”. When she is not travelling, Lockie lives in Dunedin, New Zealand…

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After the launch

Monday morning feedback for The Silver Gaucho. What a way to start the week.

“I was up at 8 this morning and then fell back into bed to read just one more chapter, and then one more, alright two, maybe one more and now it’s 11.00 and there are no more chapters left. I’ve just pulled the back curtains to let the day shine through, now planning how to fill in the hours until this evening when I’m going to start again. To return to a book within the same day is a first for me, there’s usually a gap of a year or two at least.A magnificent read.”

Ruth Arnison
Poems in the Waiting Room
waitingroompoems.wordpress.com