Enclosures 2 by Bill Direen

Landfall Review Online – July 1, 2017

The reconstructed skull* on the front cover of Enclosures 2 is a fair signifier of the book’s content: floating in negative space, the skull’s fissures give the impression of coastlines, continents, isles, waterways. Also Life. And Death. For two decades Bill Direen, novelist, poet and musician, lived in and travelled between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.… More,,,

The Dreaming Land by Martin Edmond

Landfall Review Online – April 1, 2016

The Dreaming Land,’ said Martin Edmond at the launch of this memoir at Wellington’s Unity Books, ‘had its genesis in a failed manuscript.’ He’d set out to write a book about his parents’ early years together, ‘But it hadn’t worked for the obvious reason,’ he says: ‘I wasn’t there.’… More,,,

The Breathing Tree, by Apirana Taylor; The Conch Trumpet, by David Eggleton

Landfall Review Online – August 1, 2015

Packing two books of poetry into the same waka can lead to conflicting points of view, but Apirana Taylor’s The Breathing Tree and David Eggleton’s The Conch Trumpet are,with their three-word, four-syllable titles, in tune from the get-go.

Both poets, in their early 60s, have Polynesian mothers: Taylor, born in Wellington, is ‘proudly’ affiliated to Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Ngāti Ruanui; and Eggleton’s mother was born in Fiji to a Tongan mother and a Polynesian father from the village of Motusa on the island of Rotuma, which was annexed as part of the Fiji Islands colony by the British in the 19th century.… More,,,

The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing

Listener – January 16, 2014

Olivia Laing’s compassionate study of six alcoholic American writers.

“You never start out life with the intention of becoming a bankrupt or an alcoholic or a cheat and a thief. Or a liar,” confessed Raymond Carver in an interview published in the Paris Review. At the time, he was a famous writer in a happy relationship with poet Tess Gallagher, whom he met after he left his wife, Maryann, and their two children and had achieved sobriety with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous’s 12-step programme.… More,,,

Pale gorse, black diamond: THE GORSE BLOOMS PALE by Dan Davin

Listener – January 12, 2007

As a child, I enjoyed listening to my father (of Galway Irish Catholic stock) on the rare occasions he told stories about his Southland childhood. They were stories about rabbit-hunting with ferrets and ploughing his father’s farm behind a team of draught-horses, and when he talked about his grandparents he slipped into their Irish brogue. More,,,

DERMAPHORIA by Craig Clevenger

Listener – September 16, 2006

A writer I interviewed for the Listener last year said that if you could swab the books at your local library to find the ones written under the influence of drugs, “spines would turn red all over the shop”. This may be a slight exaggeration, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to make a long list of writers who use(d) drugs to fuel their writing.More,,,

STUART: a life backwards by Alexander Masters (Harper Perennial)

The Dominion Post – April 15, 2006

There was a little glue-sniffing guy who frequented Wellington’s Cuba Street in the 1980s. His alienated intelligence and limpy gait set him apart from the street kids he hung out with. He was belligerent and compassionate, toxic and sort of interesting. He disappeared from my orbit until I came across him in Manners Plaza drinking plonk and arguing with a couple of grizzly old drunks in the late 1990s.More,,,

UNFEELING by Ian Holding (Scribner)

Listener – October 15, 2005

While reading Unfeeling, a debut novel by 27-year-old white Zimbabwean Ian Holding, I imagined Robert Mugabe at his residence, sited over the fence from the Harare Sports Club where New Zealand’s apolitical Black Caps recently thrashed Zimbabwe’s national cricket team. Mugabe isn’t named in Holding’s brave book, but the rogue President and patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union is omnipresent in it and, given the ruthless way he is implementing his country’s land redistribution polices, I hope that Holding is keeping his head down.… More,,,