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Issue 126 | Winter 2019

Volume 29 | Number 2 | Issue 126 | Winter 2019   Stephanie Johnson: Carl Shuker, A Mistake John McCrystal: Owen Marshall, Pearly Gates: A Novel Victor Rodger: John Broughton, Oscar Kightley and Erolia Ifopo, Gary Henderson, and Carl Nixon,

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Posted in Contents

Shocks and conversations, Mark Williams

The Friday Poem: 100 New Zealand Poems 
Steve Braunias (ed)
David Bateman, $25.00,
ISBN 9780473450281

Short Poems of New Zealand
Jenny Bornholdt (ed)
Victoria University Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9781776562022

Two new poetry anthologies: one featuring beautifully composed small poems selected across the New Zealand literary landscape from Arnold Wall, born in 1869, to twelve-year-old “Mary”; in the other, poems published between 2015 and 2018 that are various in length, sometimes full of delinquency, and keen to display a spikey newness.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry

Earnest but elusive, Hannah Newport-Watson

Under Glass
Gregory Kan
Auckland University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781869408916

It’s common to talk about the “emotional landscape” of a book. Gregory Kan’s second poetry collection Under Glass transforms that figure of speech into something more – yet not entirely – literal. A series of prose poems unfold in a landscape described as if it were a real place, with a river, a “colossal jungle” and ground that is “dry and sandy”. We move cinematically through the landscape – to a house, to the coast, to a lighthouse like a “tiny finger thrust up against the horizon”. It is an ominous, searching journey into uncharted territory reminiscent of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which Kan cites as a key source of inspiration.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Articulating an alternative, Julienne Molineaux

Government for the Public Good: The Surprising Science of Large-scale Collective Action 
Max Rashbrooke
Bridget Williams Books, $50.00,
ISBN 9781988545080

This is an optimistic book that aims to re-set the narrative on collective action and, in particular, how we discuss the role of government in our economic and social life. Author Max Rashbrooke’s previous books were on inequality (an edited collection) and on wealth in New Zealand (a BWB short text). Government for the Public Good: The Surprising Science of Large-Scale Collective Action continues Rashbrooke’s concern with how New Zealand can be a more egalitarian, fairer country. As with his previous books, Rashbrooke mixes his critique of the status quo with suggestions for policy improvements, but the main goal here is to present solutions. His confidence that there is an alternative infuses the book; his critique of what is essentially neoliberalism (a term he rarely uses) is countered in every case study chapter with examples of alternative, successful approaches to problem-solving, many sourced from overseas.

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Posted in Economics, Non-fiction, Politics & Law, Review

And on the strangest sea, Paul Moon

New Zealand and the Sea: Historical Perspectives 
Frances Steel (ed)
Bridget Williams Books, $60.00,
ISBN 9780947518707

Ocean: Tales of Voyaging and Encounter that Defined New Zealand
Sarah Ell
Penguin Random House, $70.00,
ISBN 9780143772675

Most histories of nations tend to be terrestrial-bound in their focus, and those of New Zealand are no exception. The land, after all, is where people live, where their social, cultural, and political institutions exist and evolve, and into which the roots of their sense of belonging are sunk. Yes, the sea gets a mention at times, usually as having served in an earlier era as some vast aquatic highway bringing migrants to the shore. Yet, even in this context, the sea tends to be portrayed more often as something that separates New Zealand from other countries – a generally bland oceanic backdrop to where all the “real” history takes place. Two books have now appeared which, in different ways, address aspects of the country’s relationship with the sea, and which both serve as antidotes to those many works which depict New Zealand as a place of forests and farms, cities and towns.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review

Finding the way back, Nicholas Reid

Now When it Rains – A Writer’s Memoir 
Jeffrey Paparoa Holman
Steele Roberts, $35.00,
ISBN 9780947493776

A boy needs a father, but things can go badly wrong if the father is not good at fathering. This seems to be one of the main ideas implicit in Jeffrey Paparoa Holman’s “writer’s memoir”.

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Posted in Media, Non-fiction, Review

Galling truth, Megan Dunn

Kaitiaki o te Pō: Essays 
John-Paul Powley 
Seraph Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9780994134592

I am in two minds about John-Paul Powley’s Kaitiaki o te Pō – this is a good essay collection, even really good. But goodness is also Powley’s Achilles heel. The collection, his first, contains 17 personal essays – some convey his perspective as both a high school teacher and a dean. The best of these, like “Pastoral Scene”, are a wrench. The sentences hit deep and low, and the truth rings out. But the catch? A touch of didacticism.

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Posted in Essays, Non-fiction, Review

Pressing on, James Hollings 

Lasting Impressions: The Story of New Zealand’s Newspapers, 1840–1920
Ian F Grant
Fraser Books, in association with the Alexander Turnbull Library, $69.50,
ISBN 9780994136046

At a time when journalism is in crisis, with collapsing revenues and governments and elites indifferent to and even resentful of its role in a healthy democracy, there is much to learn from this landmark addition to New Zealand’s journalism historiography.

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Posted in Media, Non-fiction, Review

Heroic lives, Bruce Babington

Whatever it Takes: Pacific Films and John O’Shea 1948-2000
John Reid
Victoria University Press, $60.00,
ISBN 9781776562114

Many years ago, I was invited by the New Zealand Film Archive to try to order the mass of material in its John O’Shea/Pacific Films collection. The plan fell through, but I often wondered whether the project would be resurrected. That question has now been unequivocally answered by John Reid’s monumental book which follows the company’s more than 50-year history in expansive detail.

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Posted in Art, History, Non-fiction, Review

Letters – Issue 126

Deletions made by Brasch himself I was distressed to see in Douglas Lloyd Jenkins’s review in the latest New Zealand Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa (Autumn 2019) the wrongful and offensive suggestion that Charles Brasch’s literary executor had for “homophobic”

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Posted in Letters
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