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Ineludible envanishings Jane Stafford

Blanche Baughan: Selected Writings
Damian Love (ed)
Erewhon Press, $30,00
ISBN 9780473309435

It is hard work establishing and maintaining a local canon when authors vanish and books slide in and out of print. Moreover, by definition, a canon stretches over time and thus contains work that might be now unfashionable, based on a literary culture which seems odd and wordy and compromised. This is what has happened to the works of the late-19th-century writers of Māoriland. Once celebrated, quoted, excerpted for school readers, and referenced in public debate, they now languish in rare book collections or appear fitfully in digital archives. It is thus to be celebrated that newcomer Erewhon Press has issued this selection from one of Māoriland’s most interesting writers, Blanche Baughan, and done so in such an attractive, well-designed format.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Poetry, Review and Short stories

The dangers of pre-existing narratives, Jane Stafford 

Where the Rekohu Bone Sings
Tina Makereti
Vintage, $38.00,
ISBN 9781775535188

Twentieth- and 21st-century New Zealand literature contains two utterly different narratives, each incorporating an almost diametrically opposed world view. On the one hand, there is the Pakeha narrative of radical bourgeois individualism which demonstrates the necessity of disassociating oneself from family and society, both seen as disabling and repressive. The past is rejected and the future self-fashioned. On the other hand, there is the indigenous narrative, where the past is configured as being one of collectivity and wholeness that has been lost. This past – or the values of this past – must be located and absorbed in order that the subject can themselves become whole. Frank Sargeson, Ronald Hugh Morrieson, Janet Frame, Fiona Kidman, Maurice Shadbolt and many other Pakeha writers inhabit the first narrative; the bone people, Once Were Warriors, Cousins and the Huia short story anthologies the second. New Zealand writing is split between leaving the repressive home and seeking the lost home, and the choice of which narrative to follow is predicated on the cultural identity of the writer.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Crying duffers, Jane Stafford

The Luminaries Eleanor Catton Victoria University Press, $35.00, ISBN 9780864738950 This is an extraordinary work. It is over 800 pages long, with a cast of characters to match and an intricately complex plot – or web of plots – revealed

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

The quality question, Chris Else

The Auckland University Press Anthology of New Zealand Literature Jane Stafford and Mark Williams (eds) Auckland University Press, $75.00, ISBN 9781869405892 I have a conflict of interest here: I am one of those writers with a substantial body of published

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Posted in Literature and Review

Problems with facts, Jane Stafford

The Parihaka Woman  Witi Ihimaera Vintage, $38.99, ISBN 9781869797294   New Zealand’s first novel, Taranaki: A Tale of the War, was written by a British (possibly Irish) army officer, Henry Butler Stoney, who served in the conflict. With a speed

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Bovver boys

What they wrote A taste of contributor comments over our first 20 years   On New Zealand Books My hope is that New Zealand Books will provide a forum for frank discussion that dares to rise above the suffocating confines

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Posted in Comment

There and now, Janet Wilson

Floating Worlds: Essays on Contemporary New Zealand Fiction  Anna Jackson and Jane Stafford (eds) Victoria University Press, $40.00, ISBN 9780864736017 The increased tempo of public debate in the last decade over issues such as public policy and the arts, canon

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Posted in Essays, Literature, Non-fiction and Review

Fierce bliss, Jane Stafford

The Angel’s Cut Elizabeth Knox Victoria University Press, $35.00, ISBN 9780864736000 In Elizabeth Knox’s 1998 novel The Vintner’s Luck an old French peasant from 19th century Burgundy who sees the angel Xas is carted off to the asylum; in its

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Bring on the gothic, Jane Stafford

Fire  Deborah Challinor Harper Collins, $39.99, ISBN 9781869506001 Wild Latitudes Barbara Else Vintage, $27.99, ISBN 9781869418670 A Secret Mind  Kaye Kelly Black Swan, $27.99, ISBN 978869417819 Sylvia lay awake listening to the mournful cry of a morepork. Another noise, a

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Lost writers revisited, Elizabeth Webby

Maoriland: New Zealand Literature 1872-1914   Jane Stafford and Mark Williams Victoria University Press, $39.95, ISBN 0864735227 In this excellent reassessment of an important phase of New Zealand’s literary and cultural history, Jane Stafford and Mark Williams challenge previous views

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Posted in History, Literature, Maori, Non-fiction, Review and Sociology
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