Eureka, Review | Editorial Board

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Coverage of the $3 Book Fair

You still have a week to go to the amazing $3 book fair in Eureka, it’s in a precise location in the middle of the Waikato Plains, a really good way to get there if you’re adventuring from Auckland, Just a little more complicated way is to take the Te Huia train. Last Tuesday, I took the Twea train on the second day of the two-week book fair in Eureka Hall (closed Sunday, September 11)—you can’t miss it, there’s nothing else there.

Gosh, it’s been a beautiful journey. Tickets are only $15! It left Auckland’s humble Strand station and took two hours and 27 minutes to reach Hamilton’s humble Frankton station. Two obscure trips, and everything in between, is out of the way – the Waikato Highway bypasses the pretty riverside settlements of Taupiri, Huntly and Ngaruawahia, but Te Huia wanders through these water ghost towns in the middle. Critics believe that Tvia is a ghost train in itself. “A white elephant,” complained Christopher Luxon in May, but the numbers tell another story. It was abandoned in the month of Omicron from September to late January 2021; when it was restored, the total number of passengers in February was 1593. No, not very good. But by April, the number was 6092, rising to a record 7609 during the July school holidays. The number for August was 5698.

It was set up for the commuter service where the good people in Hamilton work in Auckland. I was told that last Monday’s 6:15am flight from Frankton had 75 passengers; the next day, 49 were from Hamilton to Auckland and 45 were on the return flight that I boarded at 9:18am . The 45 were mostly day trips, like the happy family of four elderly Chinese couples in my carriage, munching on bread, biscuits and pancakes throughout the trip.I munched on sandwiches, banana bread and raisins throughout the journey, past Judges Bay and the high tide of Orakei (Te Huia along Auckland’s AT east line), past Drury’s straight furrows and dark tilled lands, past historic life Rusty barge on the banks of the Waikato River in Mercer, passing a red carpet full of red carpets on the water Wangamarino Marshlands, past the famous urupa cemetery on the slopes of Taupiri (the sign says “No digging”), past black goats, fat sheep and big trousers hanging on the country washing line – heading south on the main line is the Auckland from your hair and re-emerges in New Zealand’s military conquered and stolen lands, rivers and swamps, Fonterra and John Deere. Yours, for only $15!

Twea pulled into Frankton.

You have arrived in Frankton.

‘Frankton has nothing’, train staff told passengers, advising them to get off early Rotokauri Station – five minutes across an overpass Rotokauri Head to The Base, Hamilton’s famous strip mall. Frankly, go to fucking base. Frankton Village is also just five minutes from the station, past a field and then down a cycle path, and anyone who knows Hamilton knows that Frankton Village is one of the wonders of New Zealand’s retail scene. It’s so charming.It has a fountain, it has beautiful flowers, it has an organic store (I bought a really good steak), four very, very good opshops (I bought a in good condition, an LP by Stef Meeder on the Hammond Organ, not because it features Stef Meeder as the Hammond Organ, but because of the lurid cover), and a bar, the Aleways Inn, which does open Wednesdays between 5pm Advertise the appeal of topless barmaids – 7pm. Oh Frankton Village! Fresh meat, soft porn LP, waitress naked to the waist – go there for not yet entered 21stone century.

In Good Shape, 1972 LP by Dutch musician Step Meeder.

I walked into the transit center in downtown Hamilton and bought a bus ticket for East Connector 22 service to Morlinsville. Tickets are only $2.50! It took about half an hour through boring Hillcrest and then on State Route 26 into the countryside. The driver put his left hand on his knee. He drove under wide open skies, through flat, empty farmland, until I reached my destination: Eureka Hall, where book fair entrepreneur Trudi Gray used a curbside in the window of her truck A BIG YELLOW CARD HELP WATCH SIGNS, AND A LEGEND WITH A GRIP, $3 BOOK FAIR OPEN.

It started last Monday and continues through this Sunday, 9am to 6pm every day. When I arrived, the hall was filled with 700 banana boxes and 14,000 books. You have to bend over to conquer; there are no tables, all the boxes are on the wooden floor. It’ll be on your back or, if you start it, on your lap and have fun. Also, most boxes are covered with books that lay flat, so you have to move them out of the way to see what’s inside. This barrier, along with the physical difficulty of getting into the box, is my main complaint about the $3 Book Fair in Eureka Hall. But it’s a great event that’s sure to please. When I entered, a man staggered out with a dozen books in his hand. When I stumbled out about two hours later, there were already 27 books.

Trudy is ex-military. She runs her book fair like an advanced course in logistics. The layout of 700 boxes allows for lanes, and all boxes are clearly marked – AZ for novel author, as well as boxes marked CLASSIC FICTION and the somewhat callous OLD FICTION. (The former is Jane Austen, the latter is Hammond McGinnis).A box of spy novels, a box of romance novels, a box of cowboy novels (I have duel with death William M James, and Callahan rides alone Lee Floren; disappointingly, most Westerns were written by Louis L’amour — no Elmore Leonard, nor the great Glendon Swarthout). Nonfiction is grouped into boxes for sports, food, cars, new age, gardening, and more.So my harvest includes Plutarch’s Life (On Julius Caesar’s death: “He pulled his robe to his face and succumbed to fate”), two books on Bill Clinton, novels by Bruce Chatwin and Julian Barnes, Peter Biography of Cook and Madonna – and more than a dozen books by New Zealand authors, including a 1994 novel Age of Light by mine Herald Colleague, the esteemed Simon Wilson.

The Age of Light, a novel by Simon Wilson, published by Penguin in 1994. The author, now the Herald’s public transport fanatic, opens with: “Everyone noticed the guy on the bus.”

The book boxes in the New Zealand Banana Box are informative and engaging.I have man with two arms Written by that brilliant short story writer Norman Bilbrough, the diary of the chatty publisher Dennis McEldowney, and the second by Elizabeth Knox novel, paremata (“She leaned on her elbow, brought her face close to his, and whispered angrily, ‘Why are you asking me such a question? Why do I always have to guess how you feel?'”). There are several other Knox books, many are copies of Maurice Shadbolt, Keri Hulme, Patricia Grace, Emily Perkins, Frank Sargeson and my first book, fool’s paradise (2001). I wish I bought it!Maybe someone has or will have this week; there may be 13,000 more books on sale, $3 top price, some free at the door (I got peoplea large-scale portrait book by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, which includes pictures of the Cuban fisherman he modeled for Ernest Hemingway old man and sea).

Santiago, a Cuban fisherman from Albert Eisenstaedt’s book People, in his hut near Cogimar. “Everything about him is old,” Hemingway wrote in The Old Man and the Sea, “except his eyes, which were the same color as the sea, and were happy and undefeated.”

The Eastern Connector 22 bus returning to Hamilton came to pick me up around 4pm. I was waiting for it in a hut by the road. Traffic on State Route 26 was fast and noisy, but between the lines of trucks and tractors there were minutes of silence, fresh air and the singing of myna. I drank instant coffee from a thermos and gleefully looked at my two bags full of literary treasures from the Eureka $3 Book Fair. You should go there right away.

The $3 Eureka Book Fair is open daily from 9am-6pm until Sunday, September 11. Eureka Hall is located on the corner of Hunter Road and Morrinsville Rd (1298 Morrinsville Rd, SH 26) between Hamilton and Morrinsville. The coffee cart runs from am to 1pm on weekdays.


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