Author(s): Ian Wedde
A sharply satiric novel looking at themes of home, hope, culture-making and identity from the perspective of the central characters personal experience and through the campaigns and slogans devised by the tourism industry. The title of the novel refers to DoC viewing platforms, places of scenic beauty where people are directed to 'look at the view'. The novel follows a group of local and international 'cultural tourism' experts, including academics, ad execs, entrepreneurs and government representatives, as they make their way around New Zealand, taking in the view. Nancy, the daughter of hotel owners, is an Australian academic with a damaged body but a steel-trap mind; William, a shy New Zealander, is the marketing genius behind the Absolute Pure campaigns; Patricia, a government representative, is in charge; Hinemoana is the gorgeous Maori manaakitanga, who is partial to a drop of fine New Zealand wine; Joris, owner of Good 2 Go, is a manipulative Dutch adventure tourism entrepreneur; Biswas, a representative of the dodgy Bangladeshi Culture Tourism Operative, is caught up in an family tragedy; and Stan, the bus driver, is a hard-case Kiwi who can't understand why they won't just look at the view. Each character has a nickname that plays out the hidden or unexplored sides of their personalities. There is always a dual meaning operating in this novel. The satiric commentary questioning the benefit and meaning, if any, of 'viewing' a country runs parallel to the goings-on inside the group - their ambitions, jealousies, alliances and failings. As the central characters debate issues of Purity, Adventure and Beauty, they play out their personal lives, involving Internet porn, Islamic sects, sexuality and death. The Viewing Platform engages intellectually as well as emotionally.
First published September 2006.