“A Great Day,” a short story by New Zealand writer Frank Sargeson, was first published in Sargeson’s collection of stories A Man and His Wife (Christchurch, New Zealand, 1940). It was reprinted in Sargeson’s Collected Stories in 1964 (reprinted, 1965).
Sargeson is one of New Zealand’s best-known writers. Beginning in the 1930s, he was instrumental in creating a genuine New Zealand literature that was not derived from British or American models. He deliberately avoided using literary English, and most of his stories, which are often told in the first person, sound like an ordinary person speaking naturally.
“A Great Day” is one of Sargeson’s most admired stories. This short tale of an early morning fishing trip undertaken by two friends culminates in a shocking, and surprising, act of violence and betrayal. The story illustrates the spare, compressed nature of Sargeson’s art (almost all his stories are very short), as well as his use of informal, colloquial language and working-class characters. In “A Great Day,” Sargeson avoids any overt moralizing and leaves the story to speak for itself, inserting many subtle clues within the text to enable the reader to make sense of the final incident.