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Beginning with myths

The novelist Hamish Clayton rereads Lloyd Jones’s The Book of Fame

I first read Lloyd Jones’s The Book of Fame soon after it had won the Deutz Medal for fiction, at the then-Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2001. It had been published the year before, not surprisingly, to critical acclaim. I barely remember reading any reviews at all when it first appeared, but I do remember the talk around the novel, the excited edge of the chatter about this book that felt different to almost anything else going around in local fiction at the time. As the judges of the Montana put it: “On any scale of originality this novel is in a class of its own.” It’s not hard to see why.

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The longings of the placid, Mary McCallum

Mary McCallum recalls the pleasures of The Wind in the Willows and traces its influence on her first children’s book

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.

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Fireflies in the twilight, Gregory O’Brien

Painter and poet Gregory O’Brien reflects on Jean Arp’s Collected French Writings. i was born in nature … i have four natures. i have two things. i have five senses. sense and non-sense. nature is senseless. make way for nature.

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Slow, sure meaning, Hamish Clayton

Hamish Clayton reflects on The English Patient. “The first time she dreamed of him she woke up beside her husband screaming.” When I was 21, I wrote that line out dozens of times, by hand, into a battered school exercise

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Bookshelf

  Non-fiction Diplomatic Ladies: New Zealand’s Unsung Envoys, Joanna Woods, Otago University Press, $50.00, ISBN 9781877578304 Using private letters and interviews, the author of Katerina: The Russian World of Katherine Mansfield (2001) writes about the wives and daughters who have

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Hums, James Brown

James Brown looks back at A A Milne’s classic books for children. The World of Pooh is my all-time favourite formative book. This is a collection containing A A Milne’s two Pooh books – Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh

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Not on the Cromwell Road, Margot Schwass

Margot Schwass travels A Long Way from Verona with Jane Gardam. It was the school holidays; I was 12 or so, much given to moping about and staring fruitlessly out of windows when I had nothing to read. This of

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“Let us go then, you and I”, Elizabeth Caffin

Elizabeth Caffin recalls first looking into T S Eliot’s poems.   Some time in the mid-1950s I gave a morning talk to the third form of a Christchurch secondary school. My subject was the poetry of T S Eliot; I

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A “rotten” novelist, Mandy Hager

Mandy Hager dodges Anne of Green Gables to reach for Paul Gallico. Paul Gallico’s Flowers for Mrs Harris is a simple tale related in his unpretentious and somewhat “telling” style.  Revisiting something well-loved from childhood or adolescence is always a

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Frind of all animals, Linley Boniface

Linley Boniface recalls what Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals meant to her growing up in the “anti-Corfu” of 1970s Palmerston North. The territorial skirmishes of marriage manifest themselves, at my house, in bookcases. We have always had too many

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