The Wife and Her House — Episode Four, Res Publica, Live on Radio NZ

Res Publica, read by Stuart Devenie, on Radio New Zealand

Res Publica, read by Stuart Devenie, on Radio New Zealand Nine-to-Noon

Listen now.

You can read notes on the previous episode here.

Our narrator, Arcady Robinson, has now explained (in the previous episode) how he discovered a tiny island somewhere out beyond the Hauraki Gulf. He pauses for a moment to reflect on his story. Given that he lacks the required credentials of a New Zealand writer (such as having taken the appropriate writing courses, or having been published in literary journals), he asks his listeners’ forgiveness for any flaws they find in his story-telling style.

He then describes how — the night he discovered his island — his GPS guided him home to his shrewd, unloving, career-minded wife. He describes her ruthless character, how she’ll do anything to win in business, how their enormous house serves as a kind of business center — which causes Arcady to muse about New Zealand and the country’s obsession with houses.

The episode ends with Arcady wondering about homes, about owning a place to live; and whether, perhaps, his newly discovered rock at sea would become an island for him to live on, an island to call his own. The answer, he says, will be “brought alive” in Episode Five (to be broadcast tomorrow, 10:45am, Radio NZ “Nine-to-Noon”).

A note about the verse structure:

Twelve-line tetrameter stanzas, with a mostly iambic cadence (although the rhythm is varied), and a rhyme scheme of abbaccddeeff. Some lines, of course, were cut or altered to fit the audio segments.

An example of a stanza from Episode Four:

To her a house was just the box,
like those that came with fancy shoes
or hats – to give observers clues
about the worth inside, the stocks
she trades, celebrities she knows,
cities she visits, parties she throws.
If only the halls of houses were decked
with brands, and Gucci the architect!
Cars, as well, were less for driving
than making a statement on arriving;
a status symbol for her to squash
her rivals with. For me? To wash.

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Filed under Res Publica, Book One