Promising softly-spoken wonder, Thom Conroy

The Quiet Spectacular
Laurence Fearnley
Penguin, $38.00,
ISBN 9780143574156

Laurence Fearnley occupies a position somewhere between national treasure and experimental writer. Her depictions of landscapes and her stylistic tendency toward restraint inspire praise, with reviews admiring Fearnley for how markedly Kiwi her fiction is. Writing of her 2014 novel Reach, David Hill goes so far as to see in Fearnley’s prose the evidence of a “distinct South Island literary style”. He writes:

Owen Marshall, Brian Turner, Fiona Farrell, Maurice Gee: there’s a measured pace about their cadences and characters; a gravity of tone, yet with an undercutting irreverence; an engagement with the wide, framing physical landscape that you don’t seem to find so often north of Cook Strait.

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