Blog Archives

Poetry and politics, Sarah Sharp

Robert Burns: Poet and Revolutionist Harry Holland (Dougal McNeill ed) Steele Roberts, $30.00, ISBN 9780947493172 Writing during the 1920s, Harry Holland describes the celebration of Burns Night as an event which unites Scots around the world: be the Scot where

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Hipster pulp, Dougal McNeill

New Hokkaido
James McNaughton
Victoria University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 978 086473 9766

James McNaughton’s New Hokkaido is not the “adventure that thrills and disquiets at every turn” promised in its blurb, but it does qualify as a page-turner: I read on, eager to finish and be done with this novel. Artistic failures work according to quite different rules to the failures the rest of us experience in life, however, and this immediate readerly frustration and boredom needs unpacking. Some bad works serve good ends, after all, operating as a kind of aesthetic compost: without M K Joseph’s novel A Soldier’s Tale, no Curnow poem “Dichtung und Wahrheit”. But what kind of a bad book is this?

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Constant uncertainty, Dougal McNeill

Journals 1938-1945 Charles Brasch Margaret Scott (transcriber), Andrew Parsloe (annotator) Otago University Press, $60.00, ISBN 9781877372841 Enduring Legacy, the Hocken Library’s 2003 exhibition marking the release of Charles Brasch’s papers from their embargo, was subtitled “patron, poet and collector”. Brasch

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Posted in Essays, Non-fiction, Poetry and Review

A pleasing oddness, Dougal McNeill

Letters of Frank Sargeson Sarah Shieff (ed) Vintage, $50.00, ISBN 9781869793333 Karatani Kojin, announcing the “end of modern Japanese literature” in 2004, caused some alarm amongst readers, despite Japan’s (for us, and comparatively) philosophically open-minded and expansive literary culture. Weren’t

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Posted in Letters, Non-fiction and Review

Life in the bush, by the bay, Dougal McNeill

Speaking Frankly: The Frank Sargeson Memorial Lectures 2003-2010 Sarah Shieff (ed) Cape Catley, $31.99, ISBN 9781877340277   Celebrating Katherine Mansfield: A Centenary Volume of Essays Gerri Kimber and Janet Wilson (eds) Palgrave Macmillan, $162.00, ISBN 9780230277731   It was a

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Posted in Essays, Lecture, Literature, Non-fiction and Review

Not all freckles and nostalgia, Dougal McNeill

The Movie May Be Slightly Different Vincent O’Sullivan Victoria University Press, $30.00, ISBN 97800864736437   Adorno’s term for those last, wild works of Beethoven’s was “late style”, describing a maturity that is for the most part not round, but furrowed

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Being a bard, Dougal McNeill

Selected Poems of James K Baxter Paul Millar (ed) Auckland University Press, $40.00, ISBN 9781869404611 Maurice Shadbolt called Baxter “a Bard, our only one”. It’s unusual now to read the term used without irony or self-consciously distancing care; but, with

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Had experience, missed meaning, Dougal McNeill

Plume of Bees: A Literary Biography of C K Stead Judith Dell Panny Cape Catley, $39.99, ISBN 9781877340239 Modernism, born in the era of wars and revolutions, grew on contradiction. Centred in London, none of its greatest writers were English.

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Posted in Biography, Non-fiction and Review

Steadfast, Dougal McNeill

Collected Poems 1951-2006 C K Stead Auckland University Press, $59.99,  ISBN 9781869404185 The American critic Lionel Trilling, writing in the early 1960s of his experience teaching what we would now call modernist literature, felt unsettled by the ease with which

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

From Pine Hill to elsewhere, Dougal McNeill

Geography for the Lost Kapka Kassabova Auckland University Press, $25.00,  ISBN 9781869403874  Made for Weather Kay McKenzie Cooke University of Otago Press, $29.95,  ISBN 9781877372490 84-484 Geoff Cochrane Victoria University Press, $25.00,  ISBN 9780864735584 Cold Snack Janet Charman Auckland University

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review
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