Blog Archives

People and places, Louise O’Brien

A Surfeit of Sunsets
Dulcie Castree
Mākaro Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9780994123787

The Earth Cries Out
Bonnie Etherington
Vintage, $38.00,
ISBN 9780143770657

In the late Dulcie Castree’s novel, Shirley abandons her sophisticated life in Wellington in favour of the small seaside town, and its eccentric society, of Taiwhenua on the Kāpiti Coast. Nursing a broken heart and feeling pretty sorry for herself, she finds herself besieged by A Surfeit of Sunsets, relentlessly predictable in their daily beauty.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

The mess we’re in, Anne Kennedy

Lifting
Damien Wilkins
Victoria University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9781776561025

In the opening scene of Lifting, Amy, a department store detective, is pursuing a “Person of Interest” (POI) – a ubi-quitous, parka-wearing woman who is probably about to nick the wallets she has in her hand – when the POI stops to gaze at the indoor fountain, and the cat-and-mouse game pauses. Amy has noticed that lots of people hover at the fountain in Cutty’s store, not just because indoor water has “a terrible magic … might flow out and wreck things”, but for the opulent statue at its centre, a bronze Mercury, the Roman god (we are reminded) of “commerce, poetry and theft”. Despite the poor guy having been puritanically castrated years before, he remains focal in the store, with his winged feet and helmet, his attendant serpents.

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Posted in Fiction and Literature

Filling historical gaps, Claire Mabey

Daylight Second
Kelly Ana Morey
HarperCollins, $37.00,
ISBN 9781775540526

I am certain that I’ve seen Phar Lap. Somewhere, in the back of my memory, is a child’s-eye view of a very large horse in a glass case in a museum, somewhere. Claimed by Australians like pavlova and Crowded House, he’s up there on the shelf reserved for New Zealand national icons: All Blacks, Phar Lap, kiwifruit, Helen Clark.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Whose pain? Sarah Ross

Strip
Sue Wootton
Mākaro, $40.00,
ISBN 9780994123756

To spend the duration of Sue Wootton’s Strip in the presence of her protagonist, Dr Harvey Wright, is not an entirely comfortable experience. Harvey is a community GP who is dissatisfied in an unspectacular kind of way – a little ground down by the reality of keeping up a practice, a little paunchy, in a marriage grappling with unsuccessful IVF – when he becomes, in the novel’s opening page, a cartoonist. The medical magazine Health Matters takes on his Dr Doctor strip, a monthly funny of a Dad-joke kind, and it is for Harvey as if “a window had cracked open a tad and a puff of fresh air blown in”. Into his baggily comfortable existence, his new identity as a cartoonist injects a “flower-burst of elation”.

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Quality assured, Guy Somerset

Annual Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris (eds) Gecko Press, $40.00, ISBN 9781776570775 Would it kill Wellington children’s publisher Gecko Press to once – just once! – say “Sod it, really, who can be bothered?” and bung out some bit

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

From a trio of veterans, Anna Mackenzie

The Severed Land Maurice Gee Penguin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143770244 Shooting Stars Brian Falkner Scholastic, $21.00, ISBN 9781775433606 Cool Nukes Des Hunt Scholastic, $20.00, ISBN 9781775433422 As a veteran of more than 50 years, Maurice Gee is one of New Zealand’s

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature, Review and Young adults

“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

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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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Music boxes and willows, Edmund Bohan

The Song Journey T E Scott Scott Publishing, $37.00, ISBN 9780473328863 Napoleon’s Willow Joan Norlev Taylor RSVP Publishing, $30.00, ISBN 9780987658784 One of the attractions of historical fiction is its infinite variety. For far too long in New Zealand’s curious

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review
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