Blog Archives

A critical lamp in a dark world, Helen Watson White

Charles Brasch: Journals 1958-1973
Charles Brasch, selected by Peter Simpson
Otago University Press, $60.00,
ISBN 9781988531144 

“How many existences one leads at once,” wrote Dunedin poet, critic, patron and Landfall editor Charles Brasch in 1958: 

I am here with LF work & household chores … I am haunted by the state of the world – the Near East, nuclear tests, the fear of war; I live through Dr Zhivago & its world; Rodney’s & Douglas’s worlds & those of other friends, & Emily [Forsyth]’s, & the de Beers at Raasay now; & Andrew who has gone to Adelaide is with me constantly; & as I prepare to go to Chch tomorrow Pearl draws near, & Harry & Margaret (whose house at Clifton, 31 Tuawera Terrace, has at last been sold, to their immense relief, although it doesn’t pay off all their debts; & J[ames Bertram] will be in Chch at the weekend; Kate, Tim, Penny [Thompson]; & I must see Ruth France … the list goes on & on. And my own life winds through all these in its own way. 

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review

Grudging nationalist, Mark Williams

Charles Brasch: Journals 1945-1957
Peter Simpson (ed)
Otago University Press, $60.00,
ISBN 9781927322284

I approached this book rather in the spirit of someone visiting a civic monument to a figure august and admired, but obscurely known. In the late 1980s, as one of the many editors of Landfall in that period, I spent time in the Caxton Press checking proofs, following a tradition of care established by Charles Brasch 40 years earlier. But the strong ghosts I recall in a building filled with reminders of eminence were those of Janet Frame, whose visits and material remnants still held occult power, and Robin Dudding, veiled in a scandalous story that I gathered had more than one way of telling. Brasch’s presence was fainter somehow, less detectable in the busy workings of the printing house that had hosted him and sacked his heir, Dudding.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review, Sociology

Christchurch circles and cliques, Helen Watson White

Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933-1953 Peter Simpson Auckland University Press, $70.00, ISBN 9781869408480 When Christchurch poet and printer Denis Glover travelled to Britain in 1941 to serve in the Royal Navy, he left behind one literary circle and

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Posted in Art, Non-fiction, Review

Obsolescence is just the beginning, Peter Simpson

Director of The Holloway Press Peter Simpson celebrates the joy of letterpress. The Holloway Press is dedicated to letterpress printing, a technology rendered largely obsolete by the dawn of the digital age. Letterpress printing – that is, the direct impression

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Not to be sneezed at, Melissa Laing

Fantastica: The World of Leo Bensemann Peter Simpson Auckland University Press, $75.00, ISBN 978869404710   It has been a prolific few years for New Zealand art history at Auckland University Press, with monographs on Bill Culbert, Marti Friedlander, Len Lye

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Posted in Art, Biography, Non-fiction, Review

What, where, here, not here, Peter Ireland

Peter Peryer Photographer  Peter Peryer (photographs); Peter Simpson and Peter Peryer (essays) Auckland University Press, $59.99,  ISBN 9781869494178 Room Room Ann Shelton (photographs); Martin Patrick (essay) City Gallery in association with McNamara Gallery, $7.00, ISBN 0958270465 Acerbic old Degas once

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Posted in Non-fiction, Photography, Review

One-book wonder, Harry Ricketts

Collected Poems Charles Spear (Peter Simpson ed) Holloway Press, $200.00, ISBN 0958231370 Laclos (Les Liaisons Dangereuses), Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights), Anna Sewell (Black Beauty), Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird): there’s an undeniable fascination about one-book wonders. Those were novelists,

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Cubist McCahon, Roger Blackley

Colin McCahon: The Titirangi Years, 1953-1959 Peter Simpson Auckland University Press, $49.95,  ISBN 9781869403898 A half-century ago, the literature of New Zealand art fitted on a single shelf, or – with a full collection of the periodical Art in New

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Carnage on the coast, Paul Millar

Nine New Zealand Novellas  ed Peter Simpson Reed, $39.95, ISBN 0790009927 I’m not going to begin with a long, theorised discussion if the novella; there’s plenty of that around, and Peter Simpson’s introduction explores some of the key issues surrounding

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, Short stories
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