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Shining a transformative light, Sarah Quigley

Extraordinary Anywhere: Essays on Place from Aotearoa New Zealand Ingrid Horrocks and Cherie Lacey (eds) Victoria University Press, $40.00, ISBN 9781776560707 At a time when much of Europe is preoccupied with redefining – and defending – boundaries, New Zealand is

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Something that rises, Ingrid Horrocks

Can You Tolerate This?: Personal Essays Ashleigh Young Victoria University Press, $30.00, ISBN 9781776560769 The title of Wellington poet, blogger, and editor Ashleigh Young’s new collection is a challenge issued in somewhat the same spirit as the title of Hera

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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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Digging and delving, Tim Corballis and Ingrid Horrocks

The Grass Catcher: A Digression About Home
Ian Wedde
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9780864739384

The protagonist of the present-day portion of Symmes Hole (1986), Ian Wedde’s canonical and underread novel about settler colonialism, is obsessed with history. He digs and delves in it, but his tools are not always archival in nature. Early in the novel he gulps down an unnamed psychoactive agent that fuels a long hallucinatory reverie of Pacific history. Why the drug? It has its comic uses, of course, but its chief interest is to give history a paradoxical sense of reality, as if the events of the past could be brought right up close and visible by chemical means. The drug does not give its taker any certain, magical knowledge of history. In fact, quite the reverse: it allows rumours and legends into the story as well, and troubles the veracity of the whole picture. But it imbues the past with the glow of urgency. As such, it is one solution to a literary problem that is common, but not limited, to historical fiction: how to make done deeds, matters of dry historical record, leap across the gap that separates them from the pressing concerns of our lives now. In his altered state, Wedde’s researcher need not go looking for the past ‒ the past comes to him. The danger (and the source of much humour) is that it makes history meaningful at the expense of making the historian a dissociative, drug-addled lunatic whom no-one else would go near.

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Distances, depths and directions, Catherine Vidler

The Moonmen Anna Livesey Victoria University Press, $25.00, ISBN 9780864736260   Tigers at Awhitu Sarah Broom Auckland University Press, $24.99, ISBN 9781869404574   Mapping the Distance Ingrid Horrocks Victoria University Press, $25.0, ISBN 9780864736277   The Moonmen, Tigers at Awhitu

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Remembrance of things past, Peter Wells

The House at Karamu Beryl Fletcher Spinifex, $29.95, ISBN 1876756357 Travelling with Augusta 1835 and 1999  Ingrid Horrocks Victoria University Press, $34.95, ISBN 0864734476 Initially, when I received these two books for review, I thought I would resist the contrast-and-compare

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