Blog Archives

Searching for the whole truth, Bill Hastings 

Shirley Smith: An Examined Life Sarah Gaitanos Victoria University Press, $40.00, ISBN 9781776562176 In Wellington, it is difficult to find a lawyer, judge, or even a member of the Mongrel Mob of a certain age, who does not have a…
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Posted in Biography, Non-fiction, Review

A singular genius, Andrew Wood

Colours of a Life: The Life and Times of Douglas MacDiarmid Anna Cahill Mary Egan Publishing, $80.00, ISBN 9780473423834 Over the decades, New Zealand has lost a tragic amount of cultural talent overseas for many reasons: the old bashing machine…
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Posted in Art, Biography, Non-fiction

Unpleasant truths, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins

Theo Schoon: A Biography Damian Skinner Massey University Press, $60.00, ISBN 9780995100176 Hudson and Halls: The Food of Love Joanne Drayton Otago University Press, $50.00, ISBN 9781988531267 There has long been an uneasiness on the part of local biographers when…
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Posted in Art, Biography, Non-fiction, Review, Sociology

Making it and making it up, C K Stead

Life as a Novel – A Biography of Maurice Shadbolt, Volume I, 1932-1973 Philip Temple David Ling, $45.00, ISBN 9781927305447 Recently, I have been writing an autobiography and consequently hunting out old letters. One I found, written to Kay from…
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Posted in Biography, Non-fiction, Review

Private life and public record, Kate Hannah

The Unconventional Career of Dr Muriel Bell Diana Brown Otago University Press, $35.00, ISBN 9781988531304 Perhaps some are surprised that a scientist whose impact on New Zealand’s health, particularly the health of women and children, could have been, up until…
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Posted in Biography, Health, Non-fiction, Review

Consecrating Curnow, Simon During

Allen Curnow: Simply by Sailing in a New Direction Terry Sturm (Linda Cassells (ed)) Auckland University Press, $70.00, ISBN 9781869408527, Allen Curnow’s first book, Valley of Decision, appeared as a “Phoenix Miscellany” under the Auckland University College Students’ Association Press…
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Posted in Biography, Literature, Non-fiction, Review

Radiant living: a hero rediscovered, Julia Millen

Edmund Hillary: A Biography Michael Gill Potton and Burton, $60.00, ISBN 9780947503383   1953: Edmund Hillary, Everest conqueror (with Tenzing Norgay), is knighted by newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II. From the time he climbed his first peak in the Southern Alps,…
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Posted in Biography, Non-fiction, Review

Streets, waters, winds, Kirsty Gunn

A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888 – 1903 Redmer Yska Otago University Press, $40.00, ISBN 9780947522544 “There is a handful of writers” begins Vincent O’Sullivan’s introduction to a rare and illuminating account of the city in which Katherine…
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Posted in Biography, Non-fiction, Review

“Loneliness was his condition”, Owen Marshall

Notes From the Margins: The West Coast’s Peter Hooper Pat White Frontiers Press, $35.00, ISBN 9780473380663 A journey is a kind of endless forgetting. The boys lived only in the present, seeking a river crossing, probing a thorny thicket for…
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Posted in Biography, Non-fiction, Review

Nosing out the story, Lawrence Patchett

Breaking Ranks: Three Interrupted Lives James McNeish HarperCollins, $35.00, ISBN 9781775540908 Partway through Breaking Ranks: Three Interrupted Lives, James McNeish stops his narrative to admit his own bias. “At this point,” he writes, “I had better come clean and declare…
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