murraybramwell.com

June 10, 2016

Love and War

Filed under: 2016,Archive,Books

Love as a Stranger
by Owen Marshall
Vintage
ISBN 978-1-77553-857-8
RRP. $ 38.00. 289 pp.

The Antipodeans
by Greg McGee
Upstart Press
ISBN 978-1-927262-03-0
RRP: $ 38.00. 352 pp.

Murray Bramwell

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 …

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March 16, 2015

eSensual Readings

Filed under: 2015,Archive,Books

Essential New Zealand Poems:
Facing the Empty Page
Selected by Siobhan Harvey, James Northcliffe
and Harry Ricketts
A Godwit Book, Random House, New Zealand
ISBN 978-1-77553-459-4
RRP: $ 45.00. 319 pp.

Murray Bramwell

So what makes poems essential ? In their introduction to this most appealing collection, the three editors mull the problem of their own title. Actually it is not their title, but a reprise of an earlier Godwit collection also called Essential New Zealand Poems. That was …

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December 01, 2013

Stories from Nearby

Filed under: 2013,Archive,Books

Two Girls in a Boat
by Emma Martin
Victoria University Press
ISBN 978-0- 86473-893-6
RRP. $ 35.00. 197 pp.

Tough
by Amy Head
Victoria University Press
ISBN 978-0-86473-698-7
RRP: $ 28.00. 79 pp.

Tales from the Netherworld
by Jo Randerson
Steele Roberts Aotearoa
ISBN 978-1-877577-88-8
RRP. $. ??? 115 pp.

Murray Bramwell

One of the many pleasures of reading collections of short stories is the variety of ways in which a writer can explore the local – things, places and …

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April 01, 2013

Memory and Oxo Cubes

Filed under: 2013,Archive,Books

The Little Enemy
by Nicholas Reid
Steele Roberts Aotearoa
ISBN 978-1-877577-51-2
RRP. $29.95. 94 pp.

A Man Runs into a Woman
by Sarah Jane Barnett
Hue & Cry Press
ISBN 978-0-473-21399-2
71 pp.

The Same as Yes
by Joan Fleming
Victoria University Press
ISBN 978-0-86473-698-7
RRP: $ 28.00. 79 pp.

Murray Bramwell

These three collections are all debut publications and each reminds us of the diversity in current writing. They vary greatly in perspective, tone, technique, assumed knowledge and raise …

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June 29, 2011

Something Nobody Counted On

Filed under: 2011,Archive,Books

Parallel Worlds

Travesty
by Mike Johnson
Graphic Art by Darren Sheehan
Titus Books
titus@snap.net.nz
RRP. $ 39.00

Fosterling
by Emma Neale
Vintage
RRP. $ 29.99

Wulf
by Hamish Clayton
Penguin NZ
RRP. $ 30.00

Like many futuristic nightmares, the naming of the nihilistic Gaia colony of Travesty is both literal and metaphoric. Mike Johnson’s grim tale begins in a crummy tenement called the Rathouse where we meet the seedy principals of this sci-noir yarn. They have names reminiscent of William …

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September 19, 2010

Through the unknown, remembered gate

Filed under: 2010,Archive,Books

South-West of Eden
A Memoir 1932
By C.K. Stead
University of Auckland Press
RRP $ 45.
ISBN 9781869404543

It was T.S. Eliot who wrote, in “East Coker” – “In my beginning is my end.” In a quite different, earlier poem, he produced the variant line – “our beginnings never know our ends”, adding the notion of intention to that of destination in the word “end”. In South-West of Eden, C.K. Stead’s richly textured meditation on the first 23 – …

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May 29, 2010

Life Cycles

Filed under: Archive,Books

2010

Somebody Loves Us All

by Damien Wilkins

Victoria University Press. $ ???

ISBN 978-0-86473-616-1

Murray Bramwell

The title for Somebody Loves Us All, Damien Wilkins’ sixth novel, comes from a line by the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. The poem is called “Filling Station” and it describes a dilapidated service station – like Edward Hopper’s “Gas” gone to seed. Out the back, on the porch, is a greasy wicker sofa, a begonia plant and a crocheted cloth – signs, …

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March 01, 2009

Prizes and Short Shrifts

Filed under: Archive,Books

Janet Frame, Prizes: Selected Short Stories
Vintage, $34.99
ISBN 9781869791131
Witi Ihimaera, His Best Stories,
Raupo, $ 30.00.
ISBN 9780143010906
Owen Marshall (ed), Essential New Zealand Short Stories
Vintage, $40.00.
ISBN 97818697791285

Murray Bramwell

There is something unexpectedly, but suitably, upbeat about the title of this Vintage selection of Janet Frame short stories. Prizes, draws from all four of Frame’s previous collections, but unlike those ominous location titles, The Lagoon and The Reservoir, here we have …

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May 29, 2006

Entitlements and Subject Positions

Filed under: Archive,Books

2006

Dante’s Heaven by Jan Kemp, Puriri Press, $30.00, ISBN 090894330X

Beauty Sleep by Kate Camp, Victoria University Press, $24.95, ISBN 0864735111

The Gas Leak by Anna Jackson, Auckland University Press, $21.99, ISBN 1869403568

In the fragile world of poetry publishing it is always interesting to see what’s in a name. The title of any art work is important but in the verbal economy of poetry it is doubly so. The title has to intrigue and, literally, divert us. It …

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May 01, 1998

Death Duties

Filed under: Archive,Books

The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade
by Thomas Lynch
Jonathan Cape

Reviewed by Murray Bramwell

The first I heard of Thomas Lynch was an essay in The London Review of Books entitled Embalming Father. A friend passed it on to me- on an A3 photocopy. Then he found more, and before long I had a file of Lynch works; wise, lugubrious essays written by a poet who also happened to be a funeral director. Essays, among other things, …

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