Author(s): Peter Whiteford
The enigmatic figure of John Mulgan remains a striking presence in New Zealand culture, his sole novel, Man Alone (1939), one of the classic landmarks of a mature and independent New Zealand literature. His second book, Report on Experience, published posthumously in 1947, is one of the most clear-sighted and moving memoirs to emerge from the Second World War. A Good Mail presents a generous selection of his letters home - letters to those he cared about, but from whom he felt a permanent separation. When he left New Zealand in 1933, he had declared "I think I'm going to have the best year of my life". That confident expectation carried him through the first half of the thirties, but the growing political unrest in Europe severely dampened his enthusiasm ("It's a hell of a world we live in"), made him more and more conscious of his separation from whatever 'home' had come to mean, and strengthened his desire to see again his parents, his wife, and the son he scarcely knew. It was a desire that remained unfulfilled, his life ended by his own hand. These letters tell his story.