What We're Reading

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This is the book of the exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery, showcasing the best of contemporary Pacific art. It is superb. The art is stunning, the reproductions thoughtful, accurate and well-arranged, the essays interesting and provocative. Brilliant stuff!

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Neil

I'm Not Really Here: A Life of Two Halves by Paul Lake

OK, I do like a good English football memoir. Just a pity most of them aren't very good. This one is, although the writing does struggle with cliche as is common in this genre. Paul Lake was a rising star, playing for Manchester City and on the cusp of a great future with the English national team, almost certain of a place in their 1994 World Cup campaign when he suffered that most classic football injury: a ruptured cruciate ligament.

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Neil

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver (November 2012)

I've only recently come to Barbara Kingsolver. Somehow I missed The Poisonwood Bible, and until The Lacuna, I'd read only a few excellent short stories. Now, I wasn't wildly impressed with The Lacuna. I thought it was too long, and the Mexican bit I could have done without, really. I did like the second part; I thought the McCarthyist paranoia in 1950s America was beautifully done, but overall, I had some reservations. I have very, very minor reservations about this new book.

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Neil

Winter Journal by Paul Auster

Winter Journal is a memoir, and a companion piece to The Invention of Solitude. It is in part about the death of his mother in 2002, just as the previous book was in part about the death of his father over 30 years before. It's an extraordinarily intimate book, despite being written in the second person, and will resonate with anyone who thinks deeply about the passing of years, and the events that accumulate during a life: love and sex, death and marriage, loss, eating, moving house, pleasure, pain.

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Neil

How The Land Lies: of longing and belonging by Pat White (VUP)

Pat White has been moving for most of his life, first as the child of a railway worker, then as an adult attempting to escape the damage wrought on him as a child and find a place and a way to live. He writes powerfully about his family and the forces that drove them, the effect of landscape and the physical world, his art and writing, his relationships, his struggle with restlessness, and the need we all have to belong. There isn’t a lot of this kind of writing being published in New Zealand; Geoff Park is probably the other writer who has worked successfully in this area.

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Neil

Land's Edge: A Coastal Memoir by Tim Winton (Penguin)

Many of Tim Winton’s novels are set on the Western Australia coast, and salt water seems to run in the veins of his characters. This short memoir celebrates Winton’s own childhood relationship with the sea, with swimming, surfing, fishing and beachcombing. It is a stunningly beautiful piece of writing; gentle, delicate, nostalgic and profound. The sea has sustained and inspired Winton all his life, as well as informing his fiction.