Blog Archives

Bleak stuff under total control, Stephanie Johnson

The Wish Child Catherine Chidgey Victoria University Press, $30.00, IBSN 9781776560622 When Dutch writer Herman Koch visited New Zealand as part of the 2016 Auckland Writers’ Festival, he expressed his belief that WWII was losing its allure as a subject

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Maybe, maybe not, Craig Cliff

The Writers’ Festival
Stephanie Johnson
Vintage, $38.00
ISBN 9781775537984

Taken together, Stephanie Johnson’s The Writing Class (2013) and her latest novel, The Writers’ Festival, are a study in ambivalence. Can creative writing be taught? the first asks. Maybe, maybe not. At least, Johnson’s two writing tutors in The Writing Class are in disagreement. Merle Carbury, a 50-something midlist-and-slipping novelist, believes teaching “a student with no instinct for writing is as impossible as teaching a tone-deaf child the violin”. Gareth Heap, on the other hand, has parlayed a prize-winning first novel into a teaching gig and reckons writing, like chemistry or a foreign language, can be taught.

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Mending and pairing, Heather Roberts

The Writing Class Stephanie Johnson Random House, $38.00, ISBN 9781775532590 The Last Days of the National Costume Anne Kennedy Allen and Unwin, $37.00, ISBN 9781743313862 Two writers of a similar age and stage in the development of their writing careers,

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A life of relative freedom, Penelope Todd

The Open World   Stephanie Johnson Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9781869797836   The Open World was my introduction to Stephanie Johnson’s substantial body of work. This is a complex novel, not easy to consider as a whole, or to sum up

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A less than perky light, Stevan Eldred-Grigg

Gith Chris Else Random House, $27.99, ISBN 9781869790134 Show of Hands Anthony McCarten Random House, $29.99, ISBN 9781869419950 Swimmer’s Rope  Stephanie Johnson Random House, $29.99, ISBN 9781869790257 At the first look there’s not much to tie these three novels together.

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All-seeing but poorly briefed, Linley Boniface

John Tomb’s Head Stephanie Johnson Vintage, $28.00, ISBN 1869418263 You have to admire The Rev Mr Taylor, whoever he might have been, for chronicling, in the manner of Nigella Lawson discussing the preparation of a steak and kidney pudding, the

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Previously unthought ways, Stephanie Johnson

These Lives I Have Buried Lindsay Rabbitt Four Winds Press, $14.95, IBSN 0958251452 What Makes A Teacher?  Jack Lasenby Four Winds Press, $14.95, IBSN 0958251444 Ghost Who Writes Martin Edmond Four Winds Press, $14.95, IBSN 0958251436 A directive for enjoying

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Posted in Essays, Non-fiction and Review

Reading teeth, Jane Hurley

Music from a Distant Room Stephanie Johnson Vintage, $26.95, ISBN 1869416171 Nola Lane is a dental nurse who loves her job. By day she peers carefully into small mouths, tamps down zinc and mercury into tiny jaws and snips cottonwool

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The novelist as poet, Nick Ascroft

Lazy Wind Poems Graham Lindsay Auckland University Press, $21.99, ISBN 1869402855 Moody Bitch Stephanie Johnson Godwit, $22.95, ISBN 1869621050 Vanilla Wine Geoff Cochrane Victoria University Press, $24.95, ISBN 0864734719 Summer on the Cote d’Azur Alistair Paterson HeadworX, $19.95, ISBN 04730980244

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Satire and sympathy, Sally Sutton

The Shag Incident Stephanie Johnson Vintage, $26.95, ISBN 1869415019 When the playwright and academic Mervyn Thompson was abducted, branded a rapist, and tied to a tree by a group of feminists in 1984, I was eleven years old. I don’t

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