Blog Archives

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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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction and Review

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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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction and Review

Mingling the sacred and the profane, Martin Edmond

The Penguin Book of New Zealand War Writing
Harry Ricketts and Gavin McLean (eds)
Penguin Books, $65.00, ISBN 9780143573098

Oddly enough – or perhaps not – when this book arrived at my door I remembered one of the more arcane customs recorded in Te Rangi Hiroa’s The Coming of the Māori: “Warriors before setting out on a military campaign,” he writes, “each in turn bit (ngau) the cross beam (paepae) of the latrine.” These were cliff-side toilets in hill forts and the cross beam was what you held onto while you shat into the void below. There was a strong tapu upon it, to prevent the theft of faecal matter for the purposes of sorcery; and the ceremony of the biting of the bar was attended by a tohunga chanting karakia considered protective of Te Hokowhitu a Tu as they went off to make war.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review and War

Looking for home, David Cohen

Barefoot Years
Martin Edmond
Bridget Williams Books, $15.00,
ISBN 9781927277676

On Coming Home
Paula Morris
Bridget Williams Books, $15.00,
ISBN 9780908321117

Somewhere in the course of his perceptive career, in what one assumes was a more or less idle moment, George Orwell turned his attention to the question of whether purchasing cigarettes or literature leaves a larger hole in the average reader’s pocket. To this cobweb-hung dilemma, the English essayist devoted all the remorseless attention with which Marx went about weighing the merits of capitalism and socialism; although there the comparison must end, for Orwell surely never strung a gilded sentence together that would cause a reader mental pain on account of its construction. His tentative conclusion: reading is indeed better for one’s financial health. Workers of the world, unlight!

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Posted in Essays, Non-fiction and Review

Constant fizz and playful grace, Mark Houlahan

Constant fizz and playful grace

Mark Houlahan

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Dreaming and aching, Ashleigh Young

The Place of Stones Martin Edmond The Holloway Press, $275.00, ISBN 9780986461866 Jumping Ship and Other Essays  Glenn Colquhoun Steele Roberts, $25.00, ISBN 9781877577765 When Martin Edmond picks up a piece of schist from Alaska – in which are embedded

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Self-portrait with encounters, Martin Edmond

Touchstones: A Memoir James McNeish Vintage, $30.00, ISBN 9781869799328 The first book I was ever asked to review, way back in the early 1970s, was James McNeish’s Mackenzie – a work as idiosyncratic, obdurate and strange as the man it

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What we call the past, Martin Edmond

The Hungry Heart: Journeys with William Colenso Peter Wells Vintage, $49.99, ISBN 9781869794743   Give Your Thoughts Life: William Colenso’s Letters to the Editor  Ian St George (ed) Otago University Press, $60.00, ISBN 9781877578144   The Greek word historia, from

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Posted in Biography, History and Letters

Fruit bats to faith, Stella Ramage

Dark Night: Walking with McCahon Martin Edmond Auckland University Press, $37.99, ISBN 9781869404833   A meander through Sydney in the possible footsteps of artist Colin McCahon, who once spent 28 amnesiac hours lost in the unfamiliar city, seems a flimsy

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction and Review

Time-capsule poems, Sarah Jane Barnett

Steal Away Boy: Selected Poems of David Mitchell Martin Edmond and Nigel Roberts (eds) Auckland University Press, $34.99, ISBN 9781869404598   In the 1970s David Mitchell was the poet everyone wanted to be. A self-possessed and talented hipster, Mitchell’s best-selling

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review
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