intraspace: the review lounge

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

the house of strife

the house of strife, by maurice shadbolt

this one came from the op-shop - anna was on her usual buying spree at the sallies, and i rescued this from the pile.

having studying nz lit at university i was well aware of maurice shadbolt - i probably read a short story by him or something. 'the house of strife' is part of a trilogy of historical novels based in nz around the time of the new zealand wars, in which european power sort to impose its will on maori tribes that didn't like the idea of colonial government.

i have to say i enjoyed this book immensely - it had all the hallmarks of a cracking good story without sacrificing an intelligent approach.

the narrator of the story is an englishman named wildblood who has made a name for himself writing pulp fiction about 'maoriland' from the safety of a london apartment. when a ruffian turns up with claims of plagiarism and threatening to kill him, wildblood flees on the next ship to the antipodes and finds himself experiencing new zealand firsthand - arriving just prior to one of the first engagements of the new zealand wars.

the new zealand he enters is more alarming and complicated than anything he has ever written about. and thus begins the story...

highly recommended.

on the stereo: 'when it happens it moves all by itself' by telefon tel aviv, from the album 'a map of what is effortless'.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

contemporary new zealand photographers

contemporary new zealand photographers, by hannah holm and lara strongman (eds)

this is the book that won the
illustrative section of last year's montana new zealand book awards - and that prize was richly deserved.

obviously the selection of photographers here is limited by the editors' choice, but the selection seems to be excellent. it is not just a treasury of photography but also writing on photography - the work of each artist is accompanied by an essay or interview.

it is a while now since i had the book out of the library - so my comments here are based on lasting impressions - fairly subjective. there are two things that remain with me about this book. first, the essay by gregory o'brien which i
talked about on my other blog. as usual o'brien's essay was enlightening but also interestingly presented (complete with poetry in the body text). second, that image on the front cover - i can't remember which of the photographers took it - and i can't find out quickly. but that image has really stuck in my mind. the other day when i was on a farm, i couldn't stop looking at the poplar trees without thinking of that photo.

list of photographers in the book: Laurence Aberhart, Mark Adams, Fiona Amundsen, Wayne Barrar, Peter Black, Ben Cauchi, Marti Friedlander, Darren Glass, Gavin Hipkins, Anne Noble, Fiona Pardington, Neil Pardington, Peter Peryer, Edith Sagupolu, Ava Seymour, Marie Shannon, Ann Shelton, Deb Smith, Yvonne Todd, Boyd Webb.

on the headphones: 'walk in the sky' by bonobo, from the album 'days to come'.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

photography speaks

photography speaks, by brooks johnson (ed)

i'm getting a bit behind on my reviews... so this is a book i read a month or two ago.

i picked this up during one of my book grabs at the local library - i'm not sure what attracted me to it, but i suppose i wanted to know about some of the thought that goes into photography.

the book contains excerpts from the writings of 150 photographers talking about different aspects of their photography and photography in general. it is nicely set up - the text is one page of writing and one typical photograph from each of the photographers.

anyway, the book turned out to be very historical. it provides a good insight into the development of photography as an artform. much of the writing is photographers arguing that what they are doing is in fact art - highlighting a controversy that extended from the invention of the process until as late as the early 1980s. that controversy has now passed (although its effects are still felt in the art market), so many of the issues that these photographers contended with have now also passed. for that reason, the book didn't give me any insight for my own art - which is what i had been hoping for.

so, not a bad book - but more interesting for discovering the history of photography than anything else.

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