Blog Archives

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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Walking in the real world, Owen Marshall

Dad Art  
Damien Wilkins
Victoria University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9781776560561

Acoustic engineer Michael Stirling is divorced, in contact through a dating site with apparently grieving Chrissie, tending a father in a dementia unit, living in Wellington’s Sanctum Apartments having lost his house, coping with a minor surgical procedure, learning te reo Māori and providing temporary accommodation for his daughter Samantha who has arrived from Auckland roped to a young Māori man as an artistic experiment. Enough to be going on with. The mid-life crisis is a well-worn theme in modern fiction, but Damien Wilkins gives it a welcome and spirited outing.

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Thomas Hardy’s heart, Roger Robinson

Max Gate Damien Wilkins Victoria University Press, $30.00, ISBN 9780864738998 Thomas Hardy often wrote about death’s little ironies. There’s a poem in the voice of a dead and forgotten woman whose dog, who has also forgotten her, is burying his

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Always something to behave about, Damien Wilkins

Damien Wilkins pays tribute to Barbara Anderson (1926-2013).   With her cultured Anglo voice (boarding school in New Zealand and years as a naval wife in England), her title (she was Lady Anderson following Neil’s knighthood), her height, elegance, beads,

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Character testing, Damien Wilkins

Novelist Damien Wilkins on the ups and downs of reviewing other writers. The first book review I wrote was for the New Zealand Listener in 1986. It was of Russell Haley’s novel The Settlement. I’d just spent two years in

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Life cycles, Murray Bramwell

  Somebody Loves Us All Damien Wilkins Victoria University Press, $38.00, ISBN 9780864736161 The title of Damien Wilkins’ sixth novel, Somebody Loves Us All, comes from a line by the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. The poem is called “Filling Station”

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Best of both worlds, Chris Else

The Six Pack Two  New Zealand Book Month with Whitireia Publishing, $6.00, ISBN  9781877192326 For Everyone Concerned  Damien Wilkins  Victoria University Press, $30.00,  ISBN 9780864735591 Coming Up Roses  Sarah Laing  Vintage, $27.99, ISBN 9781869419202  Luminous  Alice Tawhai  Huia Press, $35.00,

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review and Short stories

Author as dinner companion, Sue McCauley

The Cowboy Dog Nigel Cox Victoria University Press, $29.95, ISBN 0864735448 The Fainter Damien Wilkins Victoria University Press, $29.95, ISBN 0864735308 In a way the titles say it all. It’s as if, in naming these novels (Cox’s sixth, Wilkins’ fifth),

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Nigel Cox, Damien Wilkins

Nigel Cox (1951-2006) We pay tribute to the novelist’s life and work with this 2004 Tarzan Presley launch speech by his friend and fellow-novelist Damien Wilkins. Tarzan Presley, as the title tells us, is a topical story about an unusual

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Rules of the game, Chris Else

Great Sporting Moments  ed Damien Wilkins Victoria University Press, $29.95, ISBN 0864735154 Great Sporting Moments tempted me to do the unthinkable – review a book without actually reading it. This was not because I thought the contents would be bad

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