Blog Archives

Rewards, challenges, surprise, Roger Robinson

The Collected Poems of Alistair Te Ariki Campbell
Victoria University Press, $50.00,
ISBN 9781776560677

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell always surprised us.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Changing times, David Grant

>The New Zealand Labour Party 1916–2016
Peter Franks and Jim McAloon
Victoria University Press, $50.00,
ISBN 9781776560745

Researching a history of conservative political parties in New Zealand would be relatively straight-forward. The Reform/National Parties have, from their early beginnings to the present day, varied little ideologically – from centrist, to centre-right, to right – leaving the “far-right” tag essentially to those on that fringe, such as the Democrats in the 1930s, and ACT in more recent years. The same cannot be said of the New Zealand Labour Party, which veered from doctrinaire socialism under its first leader Harry Holland to, at the other extreme, unabashed neo-liberalism under David Lange (but led essentially by Roger Douglas) in the mid-to-late 1980s.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Politics & Law and Review

A continuum of community, Chris Bourke

New Zealand Jazz Life
Norman Meehan (Tony Whincup photographer)
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN  9781776560929

In the 1984 “mockumentary” This is Spinal Tap, the fictional rock band was positive about its declining fan base. “We are more selective about our audience,” reasoned one musician. As singer Malcolm McNeill points out in Norman Meehan’s stimulating examination of the contemporary jazz scene, in New Zealand the popularity of the genre is on a par with opera: it is supported by about three per cent of the population. McNeill also mentions that the funding it receives compared to classical music is disproportionately low, and a recent study quoted by Meehan confirms this.

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Posted in Music, Non-fiction and Review

Making friends with Mansfield, Ashlee Nelson

Mansfield and Me: A Graphic Memoir
Sarah Laing
Victoria University Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9781776560691

The graphic form is in some ways a more complex undertaking than straightforward prose, for a graphic text must concern itself not only with the words of the narrative, but the art. Even more than this, the words and the art in a good graphic work should add to the meaning of the text by the way the two work skilfully together. In Mansfield and Me: A Graphic Memoir, both the words and the art belong to Sarah Laing. Laing is a writer, a cartoonist, and a graphic designer by trade and she has applied her skills to each in a uniquely beautiful way. Nor is this the only synthesis accomplished by the book: Mansfield and Me is both a biography, of sorts, of Mansfield, and an autobiographical narrative.

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction and Review

Demythologising, Mike Grimshaw

Sacred Histories in Secular New Zealand
Geoffrey Troughton and Stuart Lange (eds)
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781776560950

My late grandmother was a Presbyterian, who had some Catholic friends. They lived in working-class Stanley Point (when it was working-class) in Devonport. During the week, they existed very happily as friends and neighbours. But, on a Sunday, according to family lore, my nana, despite her bad hips, would walk the long way to church so she didn’t have to go past – and therefore acknowledge the existence of – the Catholic church. Apparently, her friends did the same thing in reverse. They were lives in which religious identity and practice were important components, yet these did not create sectarian communities, as during the week they lived interrelated non-sectarian lives. These were the respectable working class, whose children became middle-class, but a middle class that was still religious in framing culture and ethos, if not so regular practice, into the 1980s. Up to the end of the 1980s – and longer in the provinces and rural areas – there was still a large swathe of broad-church Protestantism and Catholicism in New Zealand.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Religion, Review and Sociology

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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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Mysteries past and present, John McCrystal

Days are like Grass Sue Younger Eunoia Publishing, $30.00, ISBN 9780994104762 Mysterious Mysteries of the Aro Valley Danyl McLauchlan Victoria University Press, $30.00, ISBN 9781776560479 Claire is a paediatric surgeon, newly returned to Auckland, city of her birth, from London,

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

New ways of looking at the Treaty, Therese Crocker

The Treaty on the Ground: Where We are Headed, and Why it Matters  Rachael Bell, Margaret Kawharu, Kerry Taylor, Michael Belgrave and Peter Meihana (eds) Massey University Press, $40.00, ISBN 9780994130051 New Treaty, New Tradition: Reconciling New Zealand and Māori

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Politics & Law and Review

Full fathom five, Kevin Ireland

My Father’s Island: A Memoir Adam Dudding Victoria University Press, $35.00 ISBN 9781776560820 When Edmund Gosse pioneered a new category of personal, interrogating biography, with Father and Son (1907), he framed painful questions and set down intimate dilemmas that won

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction and Review

A slap in the face with a mohair glove, Anna Jackson

Hera Lindsay Bird Hera Lindsay Bird Victoria University Press, $25.00, ISBN 9781776560714 I have been reading Hera Lindsay Bird like a waitress pouring myself into the coffee … and then drinking it all before I get it as far as

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review
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