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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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Posted in Imprints

Life invisible, Louise Wareham Leonard

The Pale North
Hamish Clayton
Penguin, $30.00
ISBN 9780143569268

The Pale North, written by 1977 Hawke’s Bay-born Hamish Clayton, is an experiment, a metafiction, a deconstruction, a love letter and an investigation heir to certain writers – the late German writer W G Sebald being the most obvious one as well as, perhaps, the likes of Paul Auster. Its strengths are in its sure prose, its rich depiction of the atmosphere and landscape of Wellington, its experimentation and range of ideas. Clayton, in this, his second novel, plays with form and theme in a way that puts him at the forefront of certain metafictional and innovative contemporary writers.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Paranoia, violence and moral reckoning, Hamish Clayton

The Quiet Earth Craig Harrison Text, $16.00, ISBN 9781922147059 Over the last few years Melbourne-based Text Publishing has done a good job of bringing back to mainstream attention some of the “lost marvels of our literature”, republishing books that count

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

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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Posted in Imprints

Suspended between cultures, Hamish Clayton

Kimble Bent: Malcontent Chris Grosz Random House, $24.99, ISBN 9781869795160   Recent claims of a resurgence in New Zealand historical fiction might seem forcefully underlined by the appearance of local cartoonist and designer Chris Grosz’s Kimble Bent: Malcontent. This graphic

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Graphic novel, Literature and Review

Behaving curiously, Hamish Clayton

Sydney Bridge Upside Down David Ballantyne Text Publishing, $32.00, ISBN 9781921520020   It’s hard to think of a more spectacular re-emergence in local literature than that, last year, of David Ballantyne’s 1968 masterpiece Sydney Bridge Upside Down. Ballantyne has been

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Something nobody counted on, Murray Bramwell

Travesty  Mike Johnson (graphic art, Darren Sheehan) Titus Books, $39.00, ISBN 9781877441134   Fosterling Emma Neale Vintage, $29.99, ISBN 9781869794859   Wulf Hamish Clayton Penguin Books, $30.00, ISBN 9780143206491   Like many futuristic nightmares, the naming of the nihilistic Gaia

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Remapping New Zealand, Hamish Clayton

Hicksville: A Comic Book Dylan Horrocks Victoria University Press, $38.00, ISBN 9780864736246 The current republication of Dylan Horrocks’ brilliant graphic novel, Hicksville, is long overdue; however, the relative obscurity to which it has been consigned over the last 10 years

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Posted in Fiction, Graphic novel, Literature and Review

Virtually naive, Hamish Clayton

Dick Frizzell: The Painter Dick Frizzell Godwit, $75.00; ISBN 9781869621742 It’s funny how an established artist’s moment can seem to arrive suddenly second time around with an exceptionally appealing – almost unbelievable – narrative logic. After the remarkable debut and

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Posted in Art, Non-fiction and Review

The uncomfortable and the familiar, Hamish Clayton

The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories Paula Morris (ed) Penguin Books, $40.00, ISBN 9780143006817 A new collection of contemporary New Zealand short stories from Penguin, edited by one of our foremost authors, surely signifies an important publishing

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Posted in Literature, Review and Short stories
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