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Loosening stiff upper lips, Charlotte Graham

Leap of Faith 
Jenny Pattrick
Black Swan, $38.00,
ISBN 9780143770916

Good Sons
Greg Hall
Mary Egan Publishing, $32.00,
ISBN 9780473383787

It seems there are two major challenges for any author wanting to write about New Zealand in some of its formative historical periods. One is the research. The other is conveying the spirit of tough people who lived tough lives, when often these were men and women of few words. The tendency of our forebears not to respond to even the most brutal of conditions, or to utterly cavernous moments of grief and loss, with anything other than stoicism, has bred an odd national reluctance to talk about our problems that persists, in some forms, to the present day. It presents an even bigger challenge to writers of historical fiction, who need to convey moments of hope and anguish among the austere, taciturn Pākehā of 1907 or 1917 without breaking character or boring us to tears. On screen, it can be done with sideways looks: the raise of an eyebrow, or a mumbled syllable. But Jenny Pattrick, author of Leap of Faith, and Greg Hall, in his book Good Sons, have set themselves a difficult task to convey it through text.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Brave writing, Charlotte Simmonds

The Walking Stick Tree
Trish Harris
Escalator Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9780994118646

A Small Blue Thing
Julie Hanify
Submarine, $35.00,
ISBN 9780994123770

The Case of the Missing Body
Jenny Powell
Otago University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9781877578311

What Does the Sea Sound Like?
Evie Mahoney
Mary Egan Publishing, $30.00,
ISBN 9780473367718

My friend Uther once called a play A Show About Superheroes, partly as a ploy to get non-theatre people into theatres, under the logic that there are people who will go to anything if it is about superheroes. Similarly, there are people who will read any book on certain topics.

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction and Review

Olympian heights, John Horrocks

Striking Gold: New Zealand Hockey’s Remarkable Victory at the 1976 Olympics Suzanne McFadden Mary Egan Publishing, $40.00 ISBN 9780473343729 Striking Gold is the story of one of the great moments in New Zealand’s sporting history. The 1976 Olympics are remembered

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review and Sport

Lives shaped by the novelist, Elspeth Sandys

Death and Forgiveness
Jindra Tichá
Mary Egan Publishing, $30.00,
ISBN 9780473306717

Rich Man Road
Ann Glamuzina
Eunoia Publishing, $30.00,
ISBN 9780994104748

In a recent review in New Zealand Books, Jane Westaway commented on the rise, both in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, of the small press, a phenomenon directly attributable to the devouring appetite of the multinational conglomerates. Having charted the rise and rise of such monster publishing companies as Penguin Random House, and the corresponding disappearance, at least from the fiction market, of hitherto commercially successful local presses, Westaway went on to observe that, whereas in the past book editors (she herself is a past co-editor of New Zealand Books) were inclined to turn their noses up at the so-called “vanity press”, in today’s changed world of publishing, that response is no longer valid. Small presses are here to stay!

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review
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