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Rethinking the past, Melissa Laing

Re-inventing New Zealand: Essays on the Arts and the Media  Roger Horrocks Atuanui Press, $45.00, ISBN 9780992245382 As I opened a blank document to begin this review, a tweet popped up in my feed from Morgan Godfery: “Sure,” Godfery writes

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Posted in Art, Essays, Media, Non-fiction and Review

For us there is only the trying, Paul Morris 

Tell You What: Great New Zealand Non-Fiction 2015
Jolisa Gracewood and Susanna Andrew (eds)
Auckland University Press, $30.00
ISBN 9781869408244

Greatest Hits: A Quarter Century of Journalistic Encounters and Notes from Lost Cities
David Cohen
Mākaro Press, $35.00
ISBN 9780994106544

In their introduction, editors Jolisa Gracewood and Susanna Andrew ask why “doesn’t New Zealand have its own equivalent of the Best American Essays or Best Australian Essays series?” Their selection of 29 “essays” is expressly designed to address this very real lacuna. As one who has long lamented the priority given to the New Zealand short story, the short poem, and the long novel over the essay, I had high expectations for this collection. What was it that I was anticipating? If not the wisdom of Montaigne, Hazlitt, Lamb, Orwell, James, Hunter S Thompson, Hughes, Baldwin, Epstein, Ozick, E B White or, more recently, Daum, Jamison, D’Ambrosio and Zadie Smith, then at least reflective first-person narratives about experience that deeply engage the reader, not as moral fable or advice, but as dialogue, a conversation that suggestively and subtly indicates some shared and significant experience and understanding. They should, of course, also be superbly written and entertaining.

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Posted in Essays, Media, Non-fiction and Review

Lifting the lid, Colin Peacock

Dirty Politics: How Attack Politics is Poisoning New Zealand’s Political Environment
Nicky Hager
Craig Potton Publishing, $35.00,
ISBN 9781927213360

The Catch: How Fishing Companies Reinvented Slavery and Plunder the Oceans
Michael Field
Awa Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781927249024

“Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made.” That zinger, attributed to Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck, is still a go-to piece of wisdom today for those pointing out that plenty of nastiness goes on behind the scenes, which most people either ignore, or remain blissfully ignorant of. Some journalists today say the same applies to the unsavoury side of getting a good story. For instance, when Mediawatch asked an Australian reporter about the families of Pike River victims being pressed for exclusive and personal interviews, she fell back on that same saw. Some reporters even call their own workplaces “sausage factories”, pumping out cheap, filling content for public consumption day after day, rather than prime cuts.

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Posted in Economics, Media, Non-fiction, Politics & Law and Review

Development journalism, Alex Perrottet

Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific
David Robie
Little Island Press
ISBN 9781877484254

It’s easy to read a book written by a journalist, especially if it covers wars, environmental disasters, independence struggles, and what happens when you try to report on them.

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Posted in Media, Non-fiction, Pacific and Review

Auckland’s newspaper wars, Grant Hannis

Extra! Extra! How the People Made the News David Hastings Auckland University Press, $45.00, ISBN 9781869407384 Histories of New Zealand newspapers are usually boring. I’m sure anyone who’s tried to read Guy Scholefield’s 1958 history of New Zealand newspapers has

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Posted in History, Media, Non-fiction and Review

Getting it covered, Jenny Nicholls

North & South magazine art director Jenny Nicholls looks into the future of book design. Recently I was sent a photography book published by Taschen – Mario Testino: Private View – to review. I had been looking forward to the

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Posted in Comment, ebooks and Media

Rugby, shopping and Shortland Street, Tony Schirato

Ruling Passions: Essays on Just About Everything Nick Perry Otago University Press, $45.00, ISBN 9781877372896   One of the main functions of a book review is to give readers an idea as to whether or to what extent the title

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Posted in Media, Non-fiction and Review

Column centimetres and sound bites, Peter Calder

Scooped: The Politics and Power of Journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand  Martin Hirst, Sean Phelan and Verica Rupar (eds) AUT Media, $39.95, ISBN 9780958299763   For an industry that spends its time holding others to account, journalism has a remarkable

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Posted in Media, Non-fiction and Review

Windows to wonder, Tristan Clark

How to Play a Video Game Pippin Barr Awa Press, $19.95, ISBN 9781877551314   When I was 10, my brother and I stayed the night at my best friend’s house. While there, we hired a Sega Mega Drive – a

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Posted in Media, Non-fiction and Review

Frame by frame, Paul Wolffram

New Zealand Film: An Illustrated History Diane Pivac (ed) with Frank Stark and Lawrence McDonald Te Papa Press, $85.00, ISBN 9781877385667   It is rare to find a non-fiction book that offers such a fascinating and comprehensive view of its

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Posted in Media, Non-fiction and Review
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