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Issue 107 | Spring 2014

Volume 24 | Number 3 |  Issue 107 | Spring 2014 Letters Jack Vowles: John Roughan, John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister Bernard Carpinter: Paul Cleave, Joe Victim; Ben Atkins, Drowning City Gyles Beckford: Maire Leadbetter, Peace, Power and

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Letters – Issue 107

Audio-books Each quarter or so a CD bearing the latest edition of New Zealand Books arrives in my letterbox having been sent by the Blind Foundation. These CDs carry excerpts from current magazine titles as requested by the recipient. NZB

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Mentors and protégés, Margot Schwass

Mentors and protégés

Editor and writer Margot Schwass looks at Frank Sargeson and his circle.

“[There] is a notion about that I am leading a little group that I train to write in words of one syllable,” complains a leading New Zealand writer. “Dear oh dear, those who know me know that I am insatiably interested in a wide variety of writing.” Another writer emphatically rejects that he is leading a school “where everyone sound[s] the same”. Young writers, he says, “have to find a voice that is theirs, and that’s their business and no one else’s”.

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Development journalism, Alex Perrottet

Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific
David Robie
Little Island Press
ISBN 9781877484254

It’s easy to read a book written by a journalist, especially if it covers wars, environmental disasters, independence struggles, and what happens when you try to report on them.

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Posted in Media, Non-fiction, Pacific, Review

Making up New Zealand, Geoff Watson

Encounters: The Creation of New Zealand. A History
Paul Moon
Penguin Books
ISBN 9780143568506

The Voyagers: Remarkable European Explorations of New Zealand
Paul Moon
Penguin Books
ISBN 9780143570554

In a year in which the historical focus is very much on the centenary of WWI, two recently published books by Paul Moon remind us that we have a much longer history than our involvement in that conflict and that there are many ways, other than warfare, through which New Zealand’s identity can, and has been, defined.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review

Delivery suite, Rae Varcoe

The Rise and Fall of National Women’s Hospital
Linda Bryder
Auckland University Press
ISBN 9781869408091

Many readers will be familiar with the furore which arose when Linda Bryder‘s A History of the ‘Unfortunate Experiment’ at National Women’s Hospital (2009) concluded that Herb Green’s management of pre-cancerous lesions of the cervix was not an experiment and that Dame Sylvia Cartwright was in error. Bryder’s view was that Green’s non-interventional management of such cervical abnormalities was in line with that of other academic units overseas and, as the patients were not randomised, but treated on a case-by-case basis, the treatment was not experimental. This continues to be an area of vigorous debate (see letters in the New Zealand Listener for 19 and 26 April 2014). The Cartwright Enquiry book was a diversion from the research and construction of this comprehensive history of National Women’s Hospital for which Bryder received a Marsden Fund grant in 2003.

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Posted in Health, History, Non-fiction, Review, Sociology

The museum as a book, Tim Walker

Take These With You When You Leave: Treasures of the Archive
Georgina White
MTG Hawke’s Bay
ISBN 9780992259600

Architecture of the Heart
Lucy Hammonds and Douglas Lloyd Jenkins
MTG Hawke’s Bay
ISBN 9780992259624

Ūkaipō – ō tātou whakapapa: The Identity of the Hapu of Hawke’s Bay
Migoto Eria
MTG Hawke’s Bay, $49.00,
ISBN 9780992259617

The challenges of in-house museum publishing are numerous. Museums are not typically well-resourced, and the decision to focus time and (usually ratepayer) funding on publications inevitably comes at the expense of the same resources being directed to other museum projects or programmes. At the same time, the number of individual visitors to museums is generally small, and the percentage who will buy a book smaller still – meaning the economics of ultra-niche publishing and its efficacy in reaching wider audiences are uncertain at best. As a former art gallery curator and museum director, I was keen to understand what fresh approaches MTG Hawke’s Bay (formerly the Hawke’s Bay Art Gallery and Museum) would bring to this vexing area, under the directorship of published author Douglas Lloyd Jenkins.

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Posted in Art, History, Māori, Non-fiction, Review

An act of restoration, Stella Ramage

Moments in Time: Ralph Miller – Artist
Brian Miller
Lifelogs Ltd
ISBN 9780992245702

Ralph Miller occupies a small, forgotten corner of our art history. A sign-writer and designer by trade, Miller nurtured a private artistic career that was sadly cut short by his sudden death in 1956, at the age of 37. Brian Miller, the author of this book and the artist’s son, aims to illuminate that corner.

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Posted in Art, Non-fiction, Review

Chasing the news, Emma Jolliff

News Pigs
Tim Wilson
Victoria University Press
ISBN 9780864739179

“To be a News Pig, one must be angry!” shouts Tom Milde’s cameraman, Valois Plongeur.

In fact, he’s not a News Pig; Milde’s a writer of poetry and Think Pieces with a penchant for French poets, and he’s a ring-in to cover the latest shocking gun massacre in Virginia. Milde wakes in New York with a hangover, in an empty apartment belonging to a woman he can’t remember, before getting his break to cover the biggest story in America. A foul-mouthed producer from Erewhon TV in the Plucky Little Country (somewhere near New Zealand) screams down the phone at him, and he’s warned that his network nemesis is already ahead of him in the game.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Bright satins, razor-encrusted leathers, Nick Bollinger

Glam Rock Boyfriends, An Imaginary Memoir
Raewyn Alexander
Brightspark Books
ISBN 9780473266646

For many years, the rock musician in New Zealand was viewed as an outsider: a long-haired, strangely-clothed, promiscuous, drug-taking menace. But somewhere along the line, the conventional citizen began to suspect the musician might be enjoying a few things the rest were missing out on, and nowadays it seems everyone is trying, in some way, to live out a rock star fantasy. The most lurid features of this mythical lifestyle tend to be adopted by those who can actually afford it – stockbrokers, say, or internet entrepreneurs – while suburban dads play weekend guitar and kids take rock lessons at school.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review
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