Blog Archives

Making it and making it up, C K Stead

Life as a Novel – A Biography of Maurice Shadbolt, Volume I, 1932-1973
Philip Temple
David Ling, $45.00,
ISBN 9781927305447

Recently, I have been writing an autobiography and consequently hunting out old letters. One I found, written to Kay from London in 1984, told her about getting started on a new novel, the one that would be called The Death of the Body: 

4½ pages written. I’m away – a start. Probably now I won’t run into trouble for 40 or 50 or with a bit of luck 60 pages. We’ll see. What a strange and dangerous business it is, writing fiction. So much investment of self in a leaking ship. No wonder Shadbolt goes around the bend with the effort. I ought to have been kinder to him. I have been a merciless sibling rival (even if it’s true he’s not much of a writer).

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Posted in Biography, Non-fiction, Review

A swarm of poets, Airini Beautrais 

Manifesto Aotearoa: 101 Political Poems
Philip Temple and Emma Neale (eds)
Otago University Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9780947522469

 

New Zealand poetry in English has a long and complex tradition of politically-charged work: from colonial balladeers, through 20th-century heavyweights like Allen Curnow (as himself and as Whim Wham) and James K Baxter, to more recent poets including Bill Sewell, Robert Sullivan, Dinah Hawken and Hinemoana Baker. Despite this tradition, and perhaps in line with a neo-liberal mood-shift towards individualism and consumerism, an attitude has existed in recent years that there isn’t much political content in our poetry, or that it doesn’t belong there. Sullivan, in his 2010 sequence Cassino: City of Martyrs, bluntly calls such an attitude out in the lines “New Zealand / and its official status quo disdain / for political verse as if it was anything but.” Appearing against this historical and contemporary backdrop, Philip Temple’s and Emma Neale’s Manifesto anthology is a timely and welcome project.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

“Shocking the model” John McCrystal

Five Minutes Alone
Paul Cleave
Penguin, $38.00,
ISBN 9780143572312

The Legend of Winstone Blackhat
Tanya Moir
Vintage, $38.00,
ISBN 9781775537755

MiSTORY
Philip Temple
Font Publishing, $35.00,
ISBN 978047328204

You could argue that the artistic imagination is like one of those massively complex algorithms that scientists and economists use to search for patterns and rules in quotidian chaos. By constructing a simulacrum of reality and then tweaking the parameters – computer modellers call this “shocking the model” – they develop an understanding of the elasticity and sensitivity of the status quo to change. And by running a model forwards, they sometimes seek to construct a vision of the future, a probabilistic telling of our fortune.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Happenstance, Martin Edmond

Chance is a Fine Thing  Philip Temple Vintage, $36.99, ISBN 9781869419851 In his preface to Chance is a Fine Thing, Philip Temple – writer, mountaineer, campaigner, explorer and historian – essays a distinction between memoir and autobiography. The latter, he

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction, Review

World-famous in New Zealand, Philip Temple

Heaphy Iain Sharp Auckland University Press, $64.99,  ISBN 9781869404215 The one-name title for this book confidently assumes this is someone we all know. After all, there can be only one Heaphy – Charles – because in the history of our

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The universe and everything, Philip Temple

Waimarino County and Other Excursions Martin Edmond Auckland University Press, $35.00,  ISBN 9781869403911 Phone Home Berlin – Collected Non-fiction Nigel Cox Victoria University Press, $35.00,  ISBN 9780864735676   The revival of the essay in book form continues compensating, to our

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Posted in Essays, Non-fiction, Review

Home truths, Philip Temple

The Accidental Anthropologist Michael Jackson Longacre Press, $39.99, ISBN 187736147X The epigraphs an author chooses may be taken as a guide to his intent, and Michael Jackson chose two. From Rilke, he derives: “We are born, so to speak, provisionally,

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Home and away. Paula Morris

I Am Always With You Philip Temple Random, $34.99, ISBN 1869417739 The Viewing Platform Ian Wedde Penguin, $29.95, ISBN 9780143020929 Local writers Stevan Eldred-Grigg (Kaput!) and Tina Shaw (The Black Madonna) have found imaginative inspiration in wartime Berlin, and now

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Radiant living, Philip Temple

Sir Edmund Hillary, An Extraordinary Life Alexa Johnston Penguin Viking, $59.95, ISBN 0670045543 Just when you thought there was nothing else to be recorded or said about Sir Edmund Hillary, this lavish compendium of a life appears, arising from the

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Over there, Anna Rogers

Foreign City Charlotte Grimshaw Vintage, $36.95, ISBN 1869417275 Responsibility Nigel Cox Victoria University Press, $29.95, ISBN 0864734964 White Shadows: Memories of Marienbad Philip Temple Vintage, $27.95, ISBN 1869416996 I’m old enough to remember the days when a New Zealand novel

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