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Fascinating threesome, Rosemary Wildblood

Obsession
Elspeth Sandys
Upstart Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9781927262900

Set mostly in the 1980s, Elspeth Sandys’s Obsession explores the dynamics of a relationship fuelled by desire and driven by a symbiotic need for intimacy. The narrative is purportedly written by a third party – who bears the sobriquet of the Dally poet – in a manuscript we are told in the foreword was discovered after his death. For those who like to judge a book by its cover, its design features three pressed flowers on a parchment-coloured background bearing faint traces of script, with the same theme continued through to the back in a graphic depiction of its contents. Combined with creamy pages inside, it’s a handsome book to own and shelve.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Lives shaped by the novelist, Elspeth Sandys

Death and Forgiveness
Jindra Tichá
Mary Egan Publishing, $30.00,
ISBN 9780473306717

Rich Man Road
Ann Glamuzina
Eunoia Publishing, $30.00,
ISBN 9780994104748

In a recent review in New Zealand Books, Jane Westaway commented on the rise, both in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, of the small press, a phenomenon directly attributable to the devouring appetite of the multinational conglomerates. Having charted the rise and rise of such monster publishing companies as Penguin Random House, and the corresponding disappearance, at least from the fiction market, of hitherto commercially successful local presses, Westaway went on to observe that, whereas in the past book editors (she herself is a past co-editor of New Zealand Books) were inclined to turn their noses up at the so-called “vanity press”, in today’s changed world of publishing, that response is no longer valid. Small presses are here to stay!

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Chimes of conviction, David Hill

How Does it Hurt?
Stephanie de Montalk
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9780864739698

What Lies Beneath: A Memoir
Elspeth Sandys
Otago University Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9781877578892

Give Us This Day: A Memoir of Family and Exile
Helena Wiśniewska Brow
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9780864739681

Somebody once wrote ponderously that some of the best fiction s/he’d read came in the form of memoirs. Actually, I think it was me. And I’m reminded of the anecdote about Jonathan Raban and Paul Theroux, after they met up while travelling around the United Kingdom gathering material. When Raban’s travel journal Coasting subsequently appeared, Theroux commented that every page gleamed with authenticity, except for Raban’s account of the afternoon they’d spent together. Theroux didn’t recognise that at all.

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction and Review

Literary dreams, Elspeth Sandys

In the Memorial Room Janet Frame Text, $35.00, ISBN 9781922147134 It will come as no surprise to readers of Janet Frame’s work that this hitherto unpublished novel is, before anything else, an examination of language, and the slippery, unreliable character

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Dying falls, Elspeth Sandys

The Forrests Emily Perkins Bloomsbury Circus, $30.00, ISBN 9781408809235   By the time I came to read Emily Perkins’s novel The Forrests, it had already attracted considerable controversy: on the one hand, there were the comparisons with Virginia Woolf and

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Poem — Elspeth Sandys

Picking daisies                 There was a day, early on when we stopped by the roadside to pick daisies we were delighted with this gift of the gods and with ourselves Had my impulsive ‘Look!’

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If music be … Elspeth Sandys

The Conductor Sarah Quigley Vintage, $39.99, ISBN 9781869795061   Any author setting out to write a novel with a man or woman of acknowledged genius at its centre is setting herself a Herculean task. When the genius is also a

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Frightening truths, Elspeth Sandys

Hand Me Down World Lloyd Jones Penguin Books, $40.00, ISBN 9780143205098   Let me start by nailing my colours to the mast. Despite my aversion to the idea of “best” books, whether it take the form of lists (the top

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Always a price to pay, Elspeth Sandys

Living as a Moon Owen Marshall Vintage, $34.99, ISBN 9781869792510 Opening Owen Marshall’s latest collection of short stories, beginning, somewhat apprehensively, to read, I wondered if the faint niggle I always feel when I read Marshall’s work would stay with

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Might and rights, Elspeth Sandys

Field Punishment No 1: Archibald Baxter, Mark Briggs and New Zealand’s Anti-Militarist Tradition David Grant, paintings by Bob Kerr Steele Roberts, $34.99, ISBN 9781877448461 In his introduction to Field Punishment No 1, David Grant expresses his satisfaction that New Zealand

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Posted in Art, History, Non-fiction and Review
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