Blog Archives

“The push and pull of parenting”, Catriona Ferguson

Billy Bird Emma Neale Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9780143770053 Emma Neale’s sixth novel, Billy Bird, probes the life of a troubled family – Liam, Iris and eight-year-old Billy. They are all reeling from a series of tragedies that have befallen their

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Sweet recklessness, Kiran Dass

The Salted Air  Thom Conroy Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9781775538820 “We strut about imagining heroism and lucky saves, but we’ve got it all wrong. Catastrophe arrives when the air is warm and people are everywhere … .” So observes the keenly self-aware

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Love and war, Murray Bramwell

Love as a Stranger
Owen Marshall
Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9781775538578

The Antipodeans
Greg McGee
Upstart Press, $38.00, ISBN 9781927262030

In his captivating new novel, Love as a Stranger, Owen Marshall immediately greets the reader with portents. The epigraph quotes the 17th-century dramatist and poet, Pedro Calderon de la Barca: “When love is not madness, it is not love.” And the opening sentence in the opening chapter, set in the present,  but located in a 19th-century Auckland cemetery, establishes with a limpid calm a story that is both pleasingly, disarmingly familiar and subtly marbled with a sinister unease:

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Echoes of the real, Sarah Ross

Starlight Peninsula Charlotte Grimshaw Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9781775538226   “A collar in the studio!” enthuses John Campbell to his co-host, as he takes over his new afternoon slot on National Radio: I have to share this with the listeners, because

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Haunted by the 1970s, Tina Shaw

The Predictions Bianca Zander Blackfriars, $30.00, ISBN 9780349134369 The Party Line Sue Orr Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9781775537557   These two novels consider two very different communities back in the 1970s and 80s. Much of it will be familiar territory. They

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Before and after, Christina Stachurski

Remembering Christchurch: Voices from Decades Past Alison Parr Penguin, $45.00, ISBN 9780143573371 A Villa at the End of the Empire: One Hundred Ways to Read a City Fiona Farrell Vintage, $40.00, ISBN 9781775537519 King Rich Joe Bennett HarperCollins, $37.00, ISBN

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Non-fiction and Sociology

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.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

“Shocking the model” John McCrystal

Five Minutes Alone
Paul Cleave
Penguin, $38.00,
ISBN 9780143572312

The Legend of Winstone Blackhat
Tanya Moir
Vintage, $38.00,
ISBN 9781775537755

MiSTORY
Philip Temple
Font Publishing, $35.00,
ISBN 978047328204

You could argue that the artistic imagination is like one of those massively complex algorithms that scientists and economists use to search for patterns and rules in quotidian chaos. By constructing a simulacrum of reality and then tweaking the parameters – computer modellers call this “shocking the model” – they develop an understanding of the elasticity and sensitivity of the status quo to change. And by running a model forwards, they sometimes seek to construct a vision of the future, a probabilistic telling of our fortune.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Genesis of a Māori writer, Tina Makereti

Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood
Witi Ihimaera
Vintage, $40.00,
ISBN 9781869797263

It is sometimes useful, in reading a review, to have some sense of the reviewer’s positioning in relation to the material. After all, the New Zealand literary community is small, and it is not uncommon to read a review that says as much about the reviewer’s biases and assumptions as about the book in question.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction and Review

Myself alone, Louise O’Brien

Landscape with Solitary Figure
Shonagh Koea
Vintage, $30.00, ISBN 9781775535881

Shonagh Koea’s novel Landscape with Solitary Figure is concerned with themes of domestic trauma, emotional unhappiness, withdrawal and solitude, written with a careful attention to detail which mires the reader in the mindfully self-aware moment, producing an intense reading experience which is also deeply unsettling. It is a stately novel, its movements measured but never ponderous, pausing often to think and reflect, offering up a series of tableaux – not always in chronological order – as if they were a series of paintings in a gallery before which one pauses to admire and contemplate, the fuller narrative being formed somewhere in the spaces and connections between them.

See more ›

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review
Search
Search by category