Books

Empty tables, closed doors, Open Looks

Empty tables, closed doors, Open Looks

  The first quarter of 2015 was a mixed bag for loc­al read­ers and book­sellers. Quilters’ Dewey-defy­ing treas­ure-tables dis­played at last their naked sur­faces, while the thrum­ming hive of eph­em­era atop Arty Bees’ Man­ners Street walk-in divulged drawn-on gems at quartered prices. Hope­fully you made best friends with a dog-eared tome or two. Among the […]

Other countries, other stories

Other countries, other stories

The past, we’re often reminded, is anoth­er coun­try. It’s still inac­cess­ible to even the world­li­est of 21st-cen­tury trav­el­lers; good luck work­ing out the status of forces agree­ment neces­sary to tra­verse that hos­tile ter­rain. You’ll make bet­ter head­way from your sofa. Fran­cis Fukuyama pro­claimed the “End of His­tory” back when CDs were new and the Gulf […]

Words and pictures

Words and pictures

Every girl goes through a pho­to­graphy phase,” sug­gests Scar­lett Johannson’s char­ac­ter from Lost in Trans­la­tion. A friend hated that line so much that when she got a DSLR and a Flickr account, “Pho­to­graphy Phase” was the name she gave her col­lec­ted works. Was it “girl” that rankled? Were Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz, Suze Ran­dall et […]

Blow it up and start again

Blow it up and start again

Last Novem­ber, the Gov­ern­ment tightened nation­al secur­ity meas­ures, cit­ing an increas­ing glob­al ter­ror threat. Appro­pri­ately, that month marked 32 years since New Zealand’s only sui­cide bomb­ing. Neil Roberts was what today might be called a crust-punk. He wore safety pins and found inspir­a­tion in the anarch­ism of Mikhail Bak­un­in. Roberts was 22 when he blew […]

An escalator to the New York art world

An escalator to the New York art world

There’s a scene early on in Janet Colson’s debut, The Shark Party, in which the female main char­ac­ter has sex with a man. This prob­ably doesn’t con­sti­tute too dire a spoil­er, but Colson says she was sur­prised at the responses to an early draft: “There was a very old guy in my writ­ing class who […]

Give a man a fish

Give a man a fish

                          Awa Press has spent 2014 col­lect­ing hon­ours for Rebecca Macfie’s essen­tial Tragedy at Pike River Mine: a por­trait of life and death at the inter­sec­tion of indus­tri­al labour and inter­na­tion­al busi­ness. This year the imprint has fol­lowed up with anoth­er brave, gripping […]

Snaking and standing strong

Snaking and standing strong

Fables were once told to Wel­ling­ton school­chil­dren about a myth­ic city of hub­rist­ic civic bun­glers in towers of glass. Our story bent these towers by seis­mic assault: frac­tured them into razor-sharp bul­lets, per­for­at­ing the Golden Mile’s MPs and god-squad pamph­let­eers alike. This nightmare’s earth would crack and swal­low hun­dreds, belch­ing flam­ing clouds of immol­a­tion; electrified […]

Books about politics

Books about politics

If you lived in Auck­land, you’d prob­ably be sick of people talk­ing about Jaf­fas and Short­land Street. Christ­ch­urch res­id­ents would once have tired of sheep-shagged jokes, hav­ing lat­terly moved onto huff­ing politely when asked if there’s any pro­gress with the insur­ance. Among Wel­ling­to­ni­ans, it’s done to nur­ture a feigned impa­tience with dis­cus­sions re: Those Bloody […]

What might have been

What might have been

Seattle is the home of Amazon, Snow Crash author Neal Steph­en­son, and the Sci­ence Fic­tion Museum, among oth­er bywords in spec­u­lat­ive writ­ing. So it came as some sur­prise, as I browsed the SF sec­tion in one of our city’s densely stocked book­stores, to be hailed by Maori, a thick volume from Alan Dean Foster, best […]

Text-slash-artefacts

Text-slash-artefacts

  Some­where in Cali­for­nia or Tuvalu or Ore­gon or parts unknown, stacks upon whirr­ing stacks of mag­net­ic data stor­age pile e’er high­er the records of our every social trans­ac­tion and PDFs of the nov­els we swear we’re going to fin­ish. We all know the Inter­net is Mak­ing Us Stu­pid and Killing Reli­gion and slowly irradiating […]