Blog Archives

Poem – C K Stead

Tohunga Crescent Across our street the Allen Curnow house sold and garden-tidied and refurbished, respectably letting as “AirBnB” is home to wild parties, and just once a riot bringing cop cars, a paddy wagon, pepper spray and more than one

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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 London in 1984, told her about getting started on a new novel, the one that would be called The Death of the Body: 

4½ pages written. I’m away – a start. Probably now I won’t run into trouble for 40 or 50 or with a bit of luck 60 pages. We’ll see. What a strange and dangerous business it is, writing fiction. So much investment of self in a leaking ship. No wonder Shadbolt goes around the bend with the effort. I ought to have been kinder to him. I have been a merciless sibling rival (even if it’s true he’s not much of a writer).

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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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Obituary — Mike Doyle

“A nice guy” C K Stead recalls the poet and critic Mike Doyle (1928-2016) Late in December, I received a phone call to say my former colleague, and friend of many years, Mike Doyle had died at home in Canada.

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Poem — C K Stead

A matter of time When I was young it was C.P. Snow averred anyone who did not know the Second Law of Thermodynamics was uneducated. ‘Two Cultures’ was his bag and what he wanted was scientists reading poems, Arts chaps

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Moss, C K Stead

Maurice Gee: Life and Work
Rachel Barrowman
Victoria University Press, $60.00
ISBN 9780864739926

When I was young, New Zealand fiction had three Maurices. Duggan (“Maurice”) was the maestro, Gee (“Moss”) the dependable tradesman, and Shadbolt (“Morrie”) the showman. The maestro wrote mostly very slowly and with difficulty; the tradesman was more fluent and produced new work with what appeared to be near regularity; the showman was always ahead of the pack, prolific and catching the public eye, but was felt by some to be a bit of a sham. All three were in varying degrees neurotic – to be a writer in the 1950s, you had to be.

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Poem — C K Stead

The Widow Will Not Be Returning   The widow across the street has been taken to live with her family, and later perhaps to a hospice. Last week I was called to witness her will. Now Rufus her little dog

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Late style, Michael Hulse

The Yellow Buoy C K Stead Auckland University Press, $28.00, ISBN 9781869407353 The Blue Coat Elizabeth Smither Auckland University Press, $25.00, ISBN 9781869407360 Collected Poems 1956-2011  Peter Bland Steele Roberts, $46.00, ISBN 9781877577994 These writers are past their three-score-and-ten –

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Nothing sacred, Christine Johnston

Risk  C K Stead MacLehose Press, $30.00, ISBN 9780857052230 C K Stead is a towering figure in New Zealand writing – a distinguished novelist, literary critic, poet, essayist and emeritus professor of English of the University of Auckland. He has

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