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Making friends with Mansfield, Ashlee Nelson

Mansfield and Me: A Graphic Memoir
Sarah Laing
Victoria University Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9781776560691

The graphic form is in some ways a more complex undertaking than straightforward prose, for a graphic text must concern itself not only with the words of the narrative, but the art. Even more than this, the words and the art in a good graphic work should add to the meaning of the text by the way the two work skilfully together. In Mansfield and Me: A Graphic Memoir, both the words and the art belong to Sarah Laing. Laing is a writer, a cartoonist, and a graphic designer by trade and she has applied her skills to each in a uniquely beautiful way. Nor is this the only synthesis accomplished by the book: Mansfield and Me is both a biography, of sorts, of Mansfield, and an autobiographical narrative.

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The scars remain; the story must be told,  Helena Wiśniewska Brow

Budapest Girl: An Immigrant Confronts the Past
Panni Palásti
Matai River Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9780473343712

“Who wants to talk about the past anymore? And who wants to hear?” It’s a challenge to the author from a former Budapest schoolmate, one that haunts this memoir’s final pages. For Panni Palásti, though, it’s no deterrent; her friend’s reaction shows only the new cultural disconnect between them. “Vali’s 1944,” she writes, “is different from mine.”

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Writing about writing, Anne Else

Talk of Treasure  Jane Carswell Submarine, $35.00, ISBN 9780994137913 How do you depict the process of writing? Very few of the many films about writers try to show their protagonist actually doing it. Doctor Zhivago demonstrates why: Omar Sharif sits

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Poetic truths, Helen Heath

In a Slant Light: A Poet’s Memoir Cilla McQueen Otago University Press, $35.00, ISBN 9781877578717 When I read Elizabeth Knox’s personal essays The Love School, in 2008, I finally realised that a writer’s past is whatever they say it is.

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Full fathom five, Kevin Ireland

My Father’s Island: A Memoir Adam Dudding Victoria University Press, $35.00 ISBN 9781776560820 When Edmund Gosse pioneered a new category of personal, interrogating biography, with Father and Son (1907), he framed painful questions and set down intimate dilemmas that won

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Carnival anarchists, Martin Edmond

Goneville: A Memoir Nick Bollinger Awa Press, $39.00, ISBN 9781927249543 This Explains Everything Richard von Sturmer Atuanui Press, $30.00, ISBN 9780994137609 The authors of these two books have a few things in common: they were both born in late 1950s

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Adding to the New Zealand story, Helene Wong

Red Dust Over Shanghai: A Shanghai–New Zealand Memoir 1937–1954 Tyl von Randow Eunoia Publishing, $38.00, ISBN 9780994104779 Shanghai has always held an allure for me. Stories about what Westerners got up to in the “Paris of the East” in the

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Pretence and defence, Melinda Johnston

Bromhead: Scratching a Living Peter Bromhead Penguin Books, $38.00, ISBN 9780143574200 In the Cartoon Archive at the Alexander Turnbull Library there is a marvellous ink caricature captioned “The loveable fun-loving Monsieur Bromhead”. Drawn in 2001 by caricaturist Dinah Priestley (a

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Memory, mateship and mortality, David Grant

Going South: A Road Trip Through Life Colin Hogg HarperCollins, $35.00, ISBN 9781775540816 The premise of this book is simple. Well-known journalist and influential rock music critic, Colin Hogg, was in deep discussion last year with mates at a birthday

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The archaeologist of memory, Ingrid Horrocks

The Dreaming Land Martin Edmond Bridget Williams Books, $40.00, ISBN 9780908321490 The Dreaming Land is Martin Edmond’s first full-length work of autobiography, but he’s been working in the territory of life writing and memoir for a long time. He is

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