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Bearing witness, again, Louise Wareham Leonard

That F word: Growing Up Feminist in Aotearoa
Lizzie Marvelly
HarperCollins, $35.00,
ISBN 9781775541127

There was an Empress of Austria named Elisabeth – many called her Sissi – a beauty and horsewoman and wife of Franz Joseph, and she was assassinated on 10 September 1898 by an anarchist wielding a knife so small that Elisabeth didn’t notice its cut, until she saw the blood from it, and swiftly died. As subtle as this knife is “the patriarchy” – the system of largely unspoken rules, beliefs and prejudices that arrange, in particular, women’s subjection in the world. It can be decades before any of us – of whatever gender – identify how the patriarchy has worked in our lives.

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Posted in Gender, Non-fiction, Review

Looking for love, Kirsten McDougall

52 Men 
Louise Wareham Leonard
Red Hen Press, $36.00,
ISBN 97815970999967

I felt deeply sad upon finishing Louise Wareham Leonard’s new book, 52 Men. Its constituent 52 parts tell a story that fits right into our Tinder-times, even though Leonard is reporting back from the age before apps supported hook-ups. Dating can be a perilous business for the mind, heart and body, and it was both fascinating and sobering to read through the 52 encounters. But this book is more than just about dating 52 men; it is a book about the power dynamics that exist in our society between a rich man and a comparatively less wealthy woman; a famous man and a non-famous woman; a girl and an older man. The complex layers of sexual desire, emotional torment, fun and recklessness are all in here; but there is not much love to be found. The final story explains why that might be so. And this left me sad.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Life invisible, Louise Wareham Leonard

The Pale North
Hamish Clayton
Penguin, $30.00
ISBN 9780143569268

The Pale North, written by 1977 Hawke’s Bay-born Hamish Clayton, is an experiment, a metafiction, a deconstruction, a love letter and an investigation heir to certain writers – the late German writer W G Sebald being the most obvious one as well as, perhaps, the likes of Paul Auster. Its strengths are in its sure prose, its rich depiction of the atmosphere and landscape of Wellington, its experimentation and range of ideas. Clayton, in this, his second novel, plays with form and theme in a way that puts him at the forefront of certain metafictional and innovative contemporary writers.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

A damn good shake up, Beryl Fletcher

Caging Skies Christine Leunens Vintage, $27.99, ISBN 9781869419578 Remember Me Derek Hansen HarperCollins, $34.99, ISBN 9780732287160 Miss Me a Lot Of Louise Wareham Leonard Victoria University Press, $30.00, ISBN 9780864735553 In New Zealand Books Autumn 2008, Elizabeth Caffin writes that

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review
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