Blog Archives

Believing you are a star, Nick Bollinger

Dead People I Have Known
Shayne Carter
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781776562213

Rock odysseys can start in obscure places. Shayne Carter’s began in Brockville, a state-housing suburb of Dunedin, a city at the southern end of a country that to most of the world is little known, even more so in the 1970s when Carter was starting out. But whereas rock heroes normally wind up somewhere very different from where they began, Carter returned to Dunedin to write this memoir and, throughout the book, Dunedin never feels all that far away, even after its protagonist has been swept up into the mythical world of rock stardom. There is a late passage in which he finds himself again “stranded in Dunedin, where I signed up to the dole only weeks after being driven in a limousine to the Conan O’Brien show in Manhattan.”

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Posted in Autobiography, Music, Non-fiction, Review

Larrikins past, Nick Bollinger

Teenagers: The Rise of Youth Culture in New Zealand
Chris Brickell
Auckland University Press, $50.00,
ISBN 9781869408688


In 1971, I became a teenager. It was the start of a complicated, confusing, exciting time. Over the next few years, I would immerse myself in music, experiment with sex and drugs, form lifelong friendships and explore various kinds of rebellion, as I tried to figure out what this adult world was that I was growing towards, and what my place in it might be.

If there’s a personal message I can take from Chris Brickell’s Teenagers: The Rise of Youth Culture in New Zealand, it is that my experience was far from unique. The adolescent’s quest to define him- or herself as they navigate the path from childhood to adulthood has been taking place in various forms since the earliest days of New Zealand society. Yet the teenage experience has had little written about it, at least by historians. When teenagers are acknowledged, Brickell notes, it is usually in terms of adults’ condemnation.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review, Sociology

Carnival anarchists, Martin Edmond

Goneville: A Memoir Nick Bollinger Awa Press, $39.00, ISBN 9781927249543 This Explains Everything Richard von Sturmer Atuanui Press, $30.00, ISBN 9780994137609 The authors of these two books have a few things in common: they were both born in late 1950s

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction, 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

Dead ends and hairpin bends, Nick Bollinger

Highway of Legends: On the Road with the Kings and Queens of Country Music Dianne Haworth HarperCollins, $29.99, ISBN 1869505891 The road is a place, both real and metaphorical, central to the life of any professional musician. It is where

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Posted in Memoir, Music, Non-fiction, Review

Down by the river, Charlotte Yates

How to Listen to Pop Music Nick Bollinger Awa Press, $24.95, ISBN 0958250960 Nick Bollinger is well known as a music reviewer or, perhaps the weightier epithet, rock journalist. He has worked in print media since 1988 for, among others,

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Posted in Essays, Music, Non-fiction, Review

Words for music perhaps, Nick Bollinger

Love This Life: Lyrics 1978-2001 Neil Finn Allen & Unwin, $35.00, ISBN 1865085081 Lyrics without melody Mahinarangi Tocker Street Women Press, $19.95, ISBN 0473074427 I have always been a passionate pop fan, but never a great lover of the printed

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Posted in Literature, Music, Non-fiction, Poetry, Review
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