Scoop Review of Books

Archive for April, 2009

From Alexandria to Auckland

Skin Hunger by David Lyndon Brown
Titus Books, Auckland, 2009. Reviewed By SCOTT HAMILTON

Late last year I attended the premiere of a short film called Skin Hunger at David Lyndon Brown’s small but stylish apartment in Auckland’s inner city. I sat in the dark with a crowd of Brown’s friends and watched as a series of words – I remember adjectives like ‘sublime’ and abstract nouns like ‘beauty’ – floated across a naked male torso wrapped in blue light. Music fluttered in the background, and a voice – deep and calm, and yet passionate – read fragments of poetry filled with words like ‘sublime’ and ‘beauty’.

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Catching the Big One

Breath by Tim Winton
Pan Macmillan, $37.39. Reviewed by TERENCE WOOD

I’m on the edge of the North Atlantic, paddling for dear life. Fleeing out to sea. Hoping to make it beyond the steepening swell. My arms are wound by adrenaline, my board is skimming over the water, but the race is already lost. The wave stands up in front of me, and collapses like a building.

The only way now is under. I slide off my board and start swimming. If I can get deep enough I’ll dodge the worst. Down I go: deep, but nowhere near enough. Turbulence comes crashing after me and all of a sudden I’m torn, flogged, pulled to pieces by invisible arms. Dragged deeper still. I close my eyes. Read more »

Censored 2008

Wellington photographer Bruce Connew has scored the cover on the lastest issue of Britain’s leading literary journal Granta. Bruce has kindly agreed to let the Scoop Review of Books re-publish his account of taking the triptych which deals with clumsy Chinese censorship.

Last spring, on my way back to New Zealand from Dubrovnik, I stopped over in Hong Kong and took a ferry from the airport, up the Pearl River Delta to Zhongshan, a small (by Chinese standards), agreeable city in Guangdong province. It was friends of friends in Zhongshan who loaned me their subscription copy of National Geographic, a special, pre-Olympic Games issue on China, which I had returned after a few days. I decided to buy a copy of my own. I found one in Zhongshan’s chief bookstore, upstairs in Holiday Plaza. It appeared to be the only English-language magazine in a well-stocked shop. It was sealed in polythene.

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Ghosts of Wars Past

Grey Ghosts – New Zealand Vietnam vets talk about their war by Deborah Challinor
Harper Collins, $37. Reviewed by MARTIN CRAIG

The Vietnam War was a polarising event for a generation of New Zealanders, and it still has the power to raise debate. We had fought in similar military campaigns before, but our reaction to the war, and the men who fought it, was unprecedented.

Many of the returning soldiers were ordered to remove their uniforms and disappear into the night, and there was little formal acknowledgement of their service until 2008 when celebrating veterans was back in style.

Deborah Challinor interviewed 50 New Zealand Vietnam veterans in 1995 and 1996 for her PhD thesis. This oral history is the basis of Grey Ghosts. The first edition was published in 1998 and this year’s second edition contains one extra chapter updating the continuing campaign for compensation for veterans and their families, and includes the official recognition ceremonies of Tribute 08.

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NZ’s WWII Pacific Stories On-Line

Kiwis honouring fallen heroes this Anzac Day now have free access to the remarkable history of New Zealand’s Third Division, courtesy of Victoria University’s New Zealand Electronic Text Centre.

In the context of New Zealand’s participation in World War II, the scale and significance of the Third Division’s involvement in the Pacific is often forgotten, says Acting Director of the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZETC) Jason Darwin.

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