Downtown voices and sugar-rush diction, David Cohen

The Journal of Urgent Writing 2016
Nicola Legat (ed)
Massey University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9780994130068

Tell You What 2017: Great New Zealand Nonfiction 
Susanna Andrew and Jolisa Gracewood (eds)
Auckland University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9781869408602

If I had to name the publishing roles I would hate to hold, the list would go on for a long time. All such jobs can be a drag: they are stressful and frustrating and too often end in failure. Yet, at the top of my list would be commandeering a collection of halfway decent New Zealand essays  – long-form journalism, enduring non-fiction, creative piecework, call them what you will – for general consumption. A challenging task in the most sophisticated international markets, it becomes a headache of the first order in New Zealand, where the form arrived relatively late and may yet, in these cash-strapped mainstream media times, depart early. And one is also certainly booked for an argument with Bob or Belinda from accounts, over whether to take the more cost-efficient route of trawling material that has already seen the light of published day, or commissioning new work from scratch.


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