Blog Archives

Almost too true, Aleksia Drain

Lyla
Fleur Beale
Allen and Unwin, $19.00,
ISBN 9781760113780 

Lyla is a book written in raw truth. The story begins in a world of homework and the normal everyday life of a young schoolgirl named Lyla. She attends Avonside Girls’ High School and lives happily in the city of Christchurch. But then disaster strikes: an earthquake shakes the lives of every Christchurch citizen, turning us upside down into chaos. This book reveals the truth of the February Christchurch earthquake, the loss people faced, and the terrible things we saw. It brings a reader out of their world of media and newspapers and reveals the personal terrors one faced in that horrific time. 

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults

Girls galloping horses: unstable identities, Amy Brown

Rainfall
Ella West
Allen and Unwin, $19.00, ISBN 9781760296834

Showtym Adventures: Casper, the Spirited Arabian
Kelly Wilson
Puffin, $15.00, ISBN 9780143772248

Do You Want to Gallop with Me?
Sophie Siers (Judith Trevelyan illus)
Millwood Press, $20.00, ISBN 9780473408541

The Gift Horse
Sophie Siers (Katharine White illus)
Millwood Press, $20.00, ISBN 9780473408558

Since I learned to read, I’ve read about horses and riders. Did I love horses because of the books I read, or did I read the books because their covers were stable doors? What does it mean to read about a female child desiring and caring for a horse? Answering these questions has felt like psychoanalysis; a girl galloping a horse should be a Jungian archetype – and I have been that girl.

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Posted in Children, Literature, Review

Biting wit, with an undertow of melancholy, Jim Mora

Drawn Out: A Seriously Funny Memoir
Tom Scott
Allen and Unwin, $45.00,
ISBN 9781877505911

 

We all store trivial moments that hang around in the hippocampus for some sort of reason. I remember the late Kenny Everett on Capitol Radio in London back-announcing the song “Suspicious Minds” once. “I could have been Elvis”, he mused, “if only I’d had the talent, the looks and the voice.” Many of us who observe politics professionally to any extent have this sort of feeling when we compare our contributions with Tom Scott’s.

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction, Review

Imagined pasts, alternative futures, Craig Cliff

The Necessary Angel
C K Stead
Allen and Unwin, $37.00,
ISBN 9781760631529

Salt Picnic
Patrick Evans
Victoria University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9781776561698

Our Future is in the Air
Tim Corballis
Victoria University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9781776561179

When a white male editor commissions another white male to review three novels, all written by white males, in late 2017, after the fall of Harvey Weinstein and the rise of #MeToo, the white male reviewer must be forgiven for thinking about absent voices, privilege and power dynamics while reading the assigned books. Stale, male and pale – that’s what cynics might say. Male and pale are hard to dispute when it comes to Stead, Evans and Corballis, but stale? That’s the crux, isn’t it? Are these books vital enough to warrant the bandwidth we might devote to them? What do they have to say that hasn’t been said before?

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Cliquety-clique? David Hill

Twice Upon a Time
James Norcliffe
Puffin NZ, $17.00,
ISBN 9780143770671

Into the White
Joanna Grochowicz
Allen and Unwin, $19.00,
ISBN 9781760293659

Taupo Blows!
Doug Wilson
Bateman, $19.00,
ISBN 9781869539672

Those accusations from a few months back – the ones which told us New Zealand literature is a cliquey little club, rampant with mutual back-scratching and buttock-wiping, with the Book Council and New Zealand Books among its most self-serving cliquettes: am I the only one who found them a tad same-old, same-old?

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature, Review

War means stories, David Hill

Ambiguity and Innocence: The New Zealand Division and the Occupation of Trieste, May 1945  Tony Simpson Silver Owl Press, $35.00, ISBN 9780986451980 The Battles of Monte Cassino: The Campaign and its Consequences Glyn Harper and John Tonkin-Covell Allen and Unwin,

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review, War

Mending and pairing, Heather Roberts

The Writing Class Stephanie Johnson Random House, $38.00, ISBN 9781775532590 The Last Days of the National Costume Anne Kennedy Allen and Unwin, $37.00, ISBN 9781743313862 Two writers of a similar age and stage in the development of their writing careers,

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review
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