Beggars and Choosers: The Complete Written Correspondence between Richard Meros and Creative New Zealand volume one


pp. 168
Released October 2008


Love, they say, does not make the world go round. Therefore, in 2008, as debit recedes into credit, Richard Meros, author of “this decade's runaway underground publishing hit” (NZ Listener, August 2, 2008), is faced with issues more pressing than young love – he has to pay the rent.


While, the beneficiary industry may take care of his base needs, Meros now must woo another benefactor, he must bat his eyelids and smile coyly all in the attempt to attract the attention of Creative New Zealand.


“It's simple to get on the dole or the sickness benefit,” Meros contends.


“But for those really keen on fiduciary buoyancy, the grand prize sin qua non, is a grant from Creative New Zealand.”


Yet the task proved a true challenge, as the institute’s fickle gaze scanned its suitors and settled elsewhere.


“As I struggled to accept the platitudes of rejection I realised that my time would have been better spent writing an actual book rather than accruing the sample pages and other assorted minutiae required by a funding agency,” Meros explains.


“As I stacked the screeds of rejection letters to be ceremonially burnt I realised that maybe, after-all, I had written a book. And so I christened it Beggars and Choosers: The Complete Written Correspondence Between Richard Meros and Creative New Zealand Volume One.”


But why would anyone be interested in reading such an esoteric collection of failures?


James Marr, editorial supervisor at Wellington's Lawrence & Gibson Publishing Collective believes Meros' latest is more than a final resting place for erstwhile filing-cabinet fodder.


“These [applications] are not simply letters,” he affirms.


“They are a statement on the human condition, where ethos and pathos tangle with Meros.”


Each application that makes up Beggars and Choosers features ten pages on a diverse range of topics. Throughout the two-year process, Meros tries his hand at writing on killer cannibal hippies, while later he looks at the struggles of a young liberal coming to terms with his conservative nature. He even grapples with penning a guidebook to the myriad of threats facing a refugee seeking to settle in Wellington.


Unifying this compendium is the story behind these writings, via the re-printing of both Meros’ application letters and the responses from CNZ, which bookend each application. In turn, readers will be met with a cliff-hanger ending that sees Meros finally facing up to his shortcomings, and laying his soul, along with the project, at the feet of the CNZ administrators.


"Though CNZ and Meros’ relationship is often fraught with heartbreak, it is a joy to watch the progression as it blossoms into this darkly hilarious collection." -