ARTicle Magazine

This reading life: Catherine Chidgey

17 November 2016

By her books we will know the author as she releases her long-awaited fourth novel.

Catherine Chidgey

Image: Fiona Pardington

The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey (Victoria University Press, $30).

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The first book to capture my imagination was ... Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The books and/or other writing (eg. comics, magazines) that saw me through childhood were ... Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven, The Famous Five and The Naughtiest Girl books (although anything by Blyton was frowned upon at the time), boarding-school stories in general, Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, and English girls’ annuals such as Mandy, Twinkle, June and School Friend. Later, I devoured the novels of the much more risqué Judy Blume and the stories of Edgar Allan Poe.


The character in a book I most wanted to be as a child was ... Jane in Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen.

The book I studied at school that has stayed with me most is ... The Day of the Bomb by Karl Bruckner.

The Day of the Bomb

The author I am most likely to binge-read is ... Patricia Highsmith.

The book I am most likely to press on a friend is ... The Secret History by Donna Tartt – if they haven’t already read it. I came to it very late in the piece.

The Secret History

The book I most wish someone would write is ... My next one, so I don’t have to.

The book I keep meaning to get around to reading but somehow never do is ... Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.


The book I have reread the most is ... Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd. Thanks to my 16-month-old, I revisit it daily … and I’m fairly certain I recite it in my dreams.

The newspapers, magazines and blogs I can't do without are ... the Spinoff, the Pantograph Punch, the New Zealand Listener, the New Yorker, the Guardian and Cake Wrecks.

If I were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with me, it would be ... An Angel at My Table by Janet Frame (and if the trilogy counts as one book I’ll take it).

An Angel at My Table

Bookmark, scrap of paper or turning down the corner of the page? Scrap of paper, often covered in scrawled notes to myself on startling new ideas for a book, which I can never read in the morning.

The book I am always on the lookout for in secondhand shops is ... anything I don’t already own by Patricia Highsmith.

My favourite cinematic adaptation of a book is ... Neil Jordan’s The End of the Affair.

The character in a book I'd most like to meet is ... Heathcliff as played by Tom Hardy.

A line of writing I can recite from memory is ...  "I went out to the hazel wood, /Because a fire was in my head…" from the William Butler Yeats poem The Song of Wandering Aengus.

My favourite 19th-century book is ... Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

My favourite 20th-century book is ... F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby

My favourite contemporary writers are ... Kate Atkinson, Tim Winton, Peter Carey, Tusiata Avia, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Tracey Slaughter, Rose Tremain, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ashleigh Young, Margaret Atwood, Hinemoana Baker and Hilary Mantel.

The books currently by the side of my bed are ... Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young, Reunion by Fred Uhlman and A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip by Alexander Masters.

The Wish Child

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