Scoop Review of Books

Archive for March, 2013

Radiating Promise and Possibility

Christchurch: The Transitional City Pt IV 2012 by FESTA Festival of Transition Architecture Published by Free range Press, Wellington.
Reviewed by Bronwyn Hayward


On first impression, Christchurch: the Transitional City Pt IV seems more like an artefact than book.

It is a solid object of delight in an era of eBook and twitter. There is something wonderfully permanent about this small, heavy (394 pages) full colour volume, bound in thick, smooth manila cardboard with a double fold.

Christchurch: The Transition City is also an important project, one which documents a significant period of rupture in New Zealand’s political and economic landscape through the lens of the Christchurch earthquakes.

The Festival of Transitional Architecture team who drove the project set out to capture and record 155 attempts to re-establish urban community amidst the confusion and chaos that accompanied the 56 earthquakes at magnitude 5 or more which have followed Christchurch’s first quake on 4th September 2010.

While there have been many photo essays of Christchurch’s earthquakes, this book is different. Its focus is the urban environment and the uncertain struggles of a small provincial community to recover, and to assert something new in the face of a relentless, reinvigorated neoliberal economy. Read more »

Free Running, Free Verse

Run by Tm Sinclair (Penguin Australia, March 2013)
Review by Mark P. Williams

Tim Sinclair’s Run is a Young Adult thriller set in the world of parkour.

Also called L’art du déplacement (131), parkour is a combination of street gymnastics and free running based on a clear philosophy of movement and lifestyle which emphasises freedom and creativity. To match its subject, Sinclair’s novel is written in free verse which it twists into shapes to accentuate the importance of movement to the narrator Dee.

The plot of Run explores the links between the philosophies of parkour and the struggles of suburban Australian teenage life, combining these with the suddenly more dramatic one of contemporary spying and surveillance. It’s an effective combination. Read more »

A Mighty Twist of Thought

The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, edited by Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman ( Melbourne, 2011)
Review By Vaughan Rapatahana



This is not a book for the ‘average’ reader. It’s difficult enough for the mythical ‘trained academic’ to digest some of the somersaulting phrases and dense terminology sprinkled throughout its over 400 e-book only pages (downloadable for free, by the way) – more so in some chapters than in others, for this is a collection of policy statements and concomitant rebuttals by over 20 very distinctive and quite idiosyncratic writers. Take – purely as random – this sentence from Reza Negarestani:

The exclusive stance of the organism in regard to its path to death is the very expression of the insurmountable truth of death within the organic horizon as a dissipative tendency which is supposed to mobilize the conservative condition of the organism toward death

My overall feelings – at times – after reading some such sections was best summarized by: ‘how can these guys write like this and stand there straight-faced’?

Now to be fair to the contributors also, there is a tremendous amount of clever and radical and worthwhile thought throughout this tome too and it is because of this I will attempt to summarize the overall tenor of this book, for there is no way whatsoever in which one can delineate the details of each and every piece involved, in a book review such as this. Rather it is a dip-into book, methinks: one delves here and there as much guided by the author involved as by the topic pertaining. Read more »

Imagining Other Worlds

Another World is Possible” essay competitionanother world is pos roy

In 1913 a young labour activist (and future prime minister) named Walter Nash ran a nationwide essay competition on the subject “What Socialism Is”. Forty entries were received and the winners were published in the weekly newspaper, the Maoriland Worker.

A hundred years later the Labour History Project Inc., which researches, records, preserves and promotes the history of working life in Aotearoa/NZ, is holding another essay competition to inspire debate on alternative futures. At a time when people internationally are turning against economic policies that further inequality, and when conventional political solutions are losing their authority, the Labour History Project (which is not affiliated with any political organisation) welcomes entries from progressive New Zealanders of all ages that offer visions and pathways for a fairer and brighter society.

And the Scoop Review of Books will publish the winning essays and any others that the judges deem to have merit.

Read more »

The search of a lifetime

Collected Poems 1956 -2011 by Peter Bland (Steele Roberts, $44.99)
Reviewed by Bill Nelson

Bland Many a New Zealander will recognise Peter Bland as the outrageous conman in 1984 film Came a Hot Friday. It’s poetry not film, however, that’s been his lifelong companion. Beginning his craft over 50 years ago, Bland he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for services to literature in 2011. Now, at 308 pages, Collected Poems 1956–2011 gives a fascinating insight into the trajectory of Bland’s work through 13 published books and several continents.

As part of the ‘Wellington Group’ of poets in the early sixties that included Louis Johnston, Alastair Campbell and James K. Baxter, Bland helped shaped the style of a new New Zealand poetry that railed against the nationalist ideals of earlier poets. Later, work and family drew him back to the UK, his birthplace and the place he left for New Zealand at the tender age of 20, a few years after both his parents died. Reading this collection, it is obvious that this transience, personal loss and rebelliousness have shaped his life’s work. Read more »

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