Monday, 10 November 2014

November Newsletter

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New this month

We have six new titles out in November.

(memoir, $40)

A decade of chronic pain has been the creative catalyst for writer Stephanie de Montalk’s latest book, a memoir called How Does It Hurt?
De Montalk has suffered from intractable pelvic pain as the result of nerve damage following a fall in 2003. She says the idea of writing a memoir first came to her in 2008, but she shied away from writing about pain at first.

“Society demands stoicism, and in this respect I found that while it was acceptable to talk about acute or temporary pain, to mention constant pain evokes disinterest and suggestions of exaggeration. It also is difficult to write about pain plainly, because of its resistance to verbal expression.”

We launch How Does It Hurt? at Unity Books on Tuesday 18 November, 6pm.

An early review of How Does It Hurt? in Metro by David Galler says, "the book, peppered with literary references, extraordinary quotes and insights and de Montalk's own excellent poetry, is a deeply personal, moving, beautifully written account of a life lived with a constant companion: chronic pelvic pain."

Dear Neil Roberts by Airini Beautrais
(poetry, $25)

Airini Beautrais has written a collection of poetry about a dark piece of Whanganui history, the bombing of the Police Computer Centre by Neil Roberts in 1982. It is also a personal story.
Airini grew up in Whanganui and moved back with her family in 2012. It was then, thirty years after the event, that she began to work on a long poem about the centre bombing. Through her work as an activist and anarchist, Airini says that she met people who had known Mr Roberts and felt that the story was an important one for her to tell.

“Neil’s story made me feel uncomfortable and I wanted to address the reasons why. I also felt it was interwoven with my own story. I wanted to examine my own thinking of the story, and figure out where I stood in relation to what happened.”

Dear Neil Roberts will be launched first in Airini's home town of Whanganui on Friday 14 November, 5.30pm at Whanganui Regional Museum, Davis Theatre entrance, Watt Street.

In Wellington it will be launched on Thursday 20 November, 6pm–7.30pm at The Guest Room, Southern Cross Garden Bar (cash bar).

Prendergast: Legal Villain? by Grant Morris
(biography, $40)

James Prendergast was arguably New Zealand's dominant legal professional during the period 1865 to 1899. He first served 10 years as Attorney-General and then 24 years as Chief Justice.

Grant Morris author of this first biography of Prendergast says he is also without doubt the biggest legal villain in New Zealand historiography.

"Along with figures such as John Bryce and Frederick Whitaker, Prendergast's name is only mentioned today in order to condemn him. This fact, combined with his long and eventful career, made him a fascinating and challenging choice to study."

Grant says he wanted to explore the historiographical debate around looking at history in its own context versus judging history by the standards of the present. 

"The latter approach has been prevalent in Waitangi Tribunal history. My argument is that the former approach is more useful in understanding history. History, and especially biography, should not be about simply labelling a figure 'good' or 'bad' but rather attempting to understand the complexities of human nature."

Prendergast: Legal Villain? will be launched by The Honourable Justice John McGrath at Supreme Court on Wednesday 12 November, 5.30pm–7pm. Copies of the book will be available for purchase courtesy of Vic Books.

The Critic's Part: Wystan Curnow Art Writings 1971–2013 edited by Christina Barton and Robert Leonard with Thomasin Sleigh (art history, $80)

Wystan Curnow is New Zealand's longest-serving and, arguably, most important art critic. This edited collection brings together a selection of his art writings from 1971 to 2013 to provide the first comprehensive overview of his practice.

Two examples of Wystan's distinctive commentary:

"All cultures have their amateurs, their snobs. And, ever since the affluent bourgeoisie decided that the products of high culture were 'consumer durables' the spectacle of people laying claims to more cultural competence than they possessed has become more commonplace."
– from 'High Culture in a Small Province, 1973'

'In my role as manager I'd helped Billy [Apple] hold off, silence, or deflect the kind of language that had, on the previous visit, ambushed the work, only to intervene on my own behalf. If the media had questioned the integrity of the artist and his work, so too, in a special sense, did my texts. In disposing of as much of the opposition as possible, wasn't I engaging in a kind of pre-emptive, positively disposed criticism?'
–from 'Working with Billy Apple, 1985'

The Critic's Part is published by the Adam Art Gallery Te Pataka Toi, Victoria University of Wellington, and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, in association with Victoria University Press.

The book will be launched at the City Gallery Wellington, Civic Square on this Sunday 9 November at 3pm. Wystan will be in conversation with co-editor Thomasin Sleigh, refreshments will follow.

Auckland Art Gallery will also host a launch on Tuesday 18 November, 6pm–8pm.

After Z Hour by Elizabeth Knox
(new edition, novel, $30)

Elizabeth Knox's After Z Hour was her first published novel back in 1987 and VUP have reissued it to coincide with the WWI centenary. Told in multiple voices by a group of people stranded in an old house on Takaka Hill in a storm, the novel has the hallmarks of vivacity and other-worldliness that have won Knox a large readership over her long writing career.

Read an interview with Elizabeth Knox by Anna Smaill about After Z Hour on the NZ Book Council site.

An Unreal House Filled with Real Storms by Elizabeth Knox
(essay, $10)

Elizabeth Knox delivered this essay for the inaugural Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture at the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival in August this year. The response to the lecture was electrifying and we had many requests for publication resulting in this slim volume which discusses despair, speculative fiction, and the imagination.

Arts Laureate Geoff Cochrane

Congratulations to Geoff Cochrane who was named a recipient of a New Zealand Arts Award Laureate Award at the Arts Foundation ceremony in Auckland on Monday evening this week. Geoff's most recent book is Astonished Dice. On receiving the award Geoff took a few deep breaths and then said, "But what could be sweeter than being able to call oneself a laureate?"

Geoff's new collection of poems, Wonky Optics, will be released in early 2015.


To win one of November's titles email us with your choice here.

Congratulations to Laurice Gilbert who won a copy of Fleur Adcock's The Land Ballot in last month's giveaway.

Events in November

Book launch
The Critic's Part
by Wystan Curnow
on Sunday 9 November, 3pm
at City Gallery Wellington, Civic Square
on Tuesday 18 November, 6pm–8pm
Auckland Art Gallery

Book launch
Prendergast: Legal Villain?
by Grant Morris
on Wednesday 12 November,
at Supreme Court
to attend this launch you must RSVP by 5 November

Book launch
How Does It Hurt?
by Stephanie de Montalk
on Tuesday 18 November, 6pm–7.30pm
at Unity Books
Willis St, Wellington.

Book launch
Dear Neil Roberts
by Airini Beatrais
on Friday 14 November,5.30pm
Whanganui Regional Museum, Davis Theatre entrance, Watt Street
Thursday 20 November, 6pm–7.30pm
The Guest Room, Southern Cross Bar
39 Abel Smith St. Cash bar.

Lit Crawl
on Saturday 15 November from 6pm
programme details here

Taking an axe to the ‘frozen sea’
A workshop on risk in writing with Pip Adam
27 November, 11 & 12 December 2014
More info contact

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