Blog Archives

Where perspectives collide, John McCrystal 

The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke
Tina Makereti
Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9780143771562

You don’t have to be a good old-fashioned structuralist to look into the patterns of history and see the tectonic grind of ideas reflected in the rippling of the surface, in the lives of individuals. It has seldom been enough for an emperor to appeal to might alone for the justification of hegemony. In practically every instance, a grand idea has been vaunted as the basis for the moral authority to rule. The wane of empires has usually been accompanied by a shift in philosophy, but not necessarily cleanly, completely, or all at once.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Thoughts well-wrought, Damian Love

View from the South
Owen Marshall (Grahame Sydney photographer)
Vintage, $40.00, ISBN 9780143771845

It often seems to be the case that novelists, when they turn to verse, move with a more relaxed gait, a less self-conscious regard, than those whose passport to the Republic of Letters declares them to be Poets. I am glad that Owen Marshall is not a Poet. This happy circumstance leaves him free to write poetry. There is no straining for originality in his verse, no exhibitionist sensitivity, just a quiet confidence in the value of well-wrought thought.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Courting controversy, Emma Martin

Fiction
The Suicide Club
Sarah Quigley
Vintage, $38.00,
ISBN 9780143771012

Midway through Sarah Quigley’s The Suicide Club, Lace, one of its three troubled young protagonists, recalls a story told to her by her father, a celebrated film-maker who, along with Lace’s mother and younger sister, died in horrifying circumstances when Lace was eight – a loss which she has learned to accommodate, but from which she has in no way recovered. In the story, a beautiful princess develops an allergy to sunlight, which leaves her crying salty tears that form small ponds around her. The allergy becomes progressively more extreme until she is unable to tolerate even artificial light, leaving her living in darkness with only a blind manservant for company.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

People and places, Louise O’Brien

A Surfeit of Sunsets
Dulcie Castree
Mākaro Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9780994123787

The Earth Cries Out
Bonnie Etherington
Vintage, $38.00,
ISBN 9780143770657

In the late Dulcie Castree’s novel, Shirley abandons her sophisticated life in Wellington in favour of the small seaside town, and its eccentric society, of Taiwhenua on the Kāpiti Coast. Nursing a broken heart and feeling pretty sorry for herself, she finds herself besieged by A Surfeit of Sunsets, relentlessly predictable in their daily beauty.

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“The push and pull of parenting”, Catriona Ferguson

Billy Bird Emma Neale Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9780143770053 Emma Neale’s sixth novel, Billy Bird, probes the life of a troubled family – Liam, Iris and eight-year-old Billy. They are all reeling from a series of tragedies that have befallen their

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Sweet recklessness, Kiran Dass

The Salted Air  Thom Conroy Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9781775538820 “We strut about imagining heroism and lucky saves, but we’ve got it all wrong. Catastrophe arrives when the air is warm and people are everywhere … .” So observes the keenly self-aware

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Love and war, Murray Bramwell

Love as a Stranger
Owen Marshall
Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9781775538578

The Antipodeans
Greg McGee
Upstart Press, $38.00, ISBN 9781927262030

In his captivating new novel, Love as a Stranger, Owen Marshall immediately greets the reader with portents. The epigraph quotes the 17th-century dramatist and poet, Pedro Calderon de la Barca: “When love is not madness, it is not love.” And the opening sentence in the opening chapter, set in the present,  but located in a 19th-century Auckland cemetery, establishes with a limpid calm a story that is both pleasingly, disarmingly familiar and subtly marbled with a sinister unease:

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Echoes of the real, Sarah Ross

Starlight Peninsula Charlotte Grimshaw Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9781775538226   “A collar in the studio!” enthuses John Campbell to his co-host, as he takes over his new afternoon slot on National Radio: I have to share this with the listeners, because

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Haunted by the 1970s, Tina Shaw

The Predictions Bianca Zander Blackfriars, $30.00, ISBN 9780349134369 The Party Line Sue Orr Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9781775537557   These two novels consider two very different communities back in the 1970s and 80s. Much of it will be familiar territory. They

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Before and after, Christina Stachurski

Remembering Christchurch: Voices from Decades Past Alison Parr Penguin, $45.00, ISBN 9780143573371 A Villa at the End of the Empire: One Hundred Ways to Read a City Fiona Farrell Vintage, $40.00, ISBN 9781775537519 King Rich Joe Bennett HarperCollins, $37.00, ISBN

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Posted in Non-fiction, Sociology
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