Writing in Elsewhere

Books, authors, spoken word and poetry which may appeal to the curious spirit of Elsewhere.

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THE PROBLEM WITH MUSIC IN NEW ZEALAND AND HOW TO FIX IT by IAN JORGENSEN

THE PROBLEM WITH MUSIC IN NEW ZEALAND AND HOW TO FIX IT by IAN JORGENSEN

The memory is indelible. It was the early Nineties and there was a local band I wanted to see play at a bar in Auckland. After work I went home, ate, muddled about and went to the venue at 10.30pm. There was a drum kit set up and guitars in place. But no band. About 11.15 two guitarists arrived and went to the bar where they chatted with friends and had a couple of... more >>

5 Aug 2014    3

THE WHITEHALL MANDARIN by EDWARD WILSON

THE WHITEHALL MANDARIN by EDWARD WILSON

Consider how ripe the political pickings of the late 50s and early 60s are for anyone writing a spy thriller. There is cigar-chomping Castro in Cuba helming a people's revolution, the young and sexually voracious JFK in the White House as the Bay of Pigs and missile crisis swirl around him, Vietnam as a war zone is hotting up and US military advisors are flying in, Cold... more >>

1 Aug 2014

RUPERT MURDOCH; A REASSESSMENT by RODNEY TIFFEN

RUPERT MURDOCH; A REASSESSMENT by RODNEY TIFFEN

Because media baron Robert Murdoch is such a polarising figure – from a bottom-feeder driving down news content to the lowest common denominator to “Rupert is magnificent” from Margaret Thatcher -- the subtitle here is canny. Few at either end of the spectrum want their firmly held prejudice about this man tested by a reassessment of his character and works. Yet... more >>

4 May 2014

GUTTER BLACK; A MEMOIR by DAVE McARTNEY

GUTTER BLACK; A MEMOIR by DAVE McARTNEY

A few years ago when I was in Australia interviewing the re-formed Cold Chisel, I took a chance afterwards to talk with their songwriter Don Walker, who had written an exceptional, literary and darkly poetic memoir, Shots. I wanted to ask him about something which had been troubling me quietly for a number of years: Why was it that so many Australian songwriters – Paul Kelly,... more >>

28 Apr 2014

THE LAST WORD by HANIF KUREISHI

THE LAST WORD by HANIF KUREISHI

Consider the plight of a hard-pressed writer commissioned to do the biography of an old, famous living author. Then think how much more difficult it would be if the manipulative author has invited the commission to confirm his legacy and status, his young wife is controlling to ensure an income after her husband's death, and the publisher wants plenty of scandal (which is there) to... more >>

16 Mar 2014

A FORT OF NINE TOWERS by QAIS AKBAR OMAR

A FORT OF NINE TOWERS by QAIS AKBAR OMAR

In an age when shaky images from phone cameras and newspaper reports cite Facebook comments or tweets as a substitute for news – that famous “first draft of history” as it was once known – this remarkably plain-spoken and often unflinching memoir comes as a rare combination of reportage, witness to history, family story and national tragedy. When mujahideen... more >>

9 Feb 2014

THE SON by PHILIPP MEYER

THE SON by PHILIPP MEYER

When the Comanche raiding party came to their Texas homestead, they stole the horses, raped and killed his mother and younger sister before his eyes, then dragged the young Eli and his older brother Martin away as slaves. Over the following days the boys were beaten, starved and beaten again on a forced march back the warriors' lands, but after days of abuse Martin, poetic and... more >>

6 Jan 2014    1

FROM EARTH'S END; THE BEST OF NEW ZEALAND COMICS by ADRIAN KINNAIRD

FROM EARTH'S END; THE BEST OF NEW ZEALAND COMICS by ADRIAN KINNAIRD

There's the old observation that for most people history began with the first thing they remember, like in Billy Joel's song We Didn't Start the Fire which is just a baby-boomer litany of names and events which push emotional buttons. Clearly Joel was of the persuasion that his generation did start the fire. You would however be forgiven for thinking not much in the way of New Zealand... more >>

10 Dec 2013

ROBERT PLANT; A LIFE by PAUL REES

ROBERT PLANT; A LIFE by PAUL REES

There are many excellent and insightful biographies of musicians around these days -- among them Mark Lewisohn's recent Tune In about the Beatles which at 900 pages only gets you to the start of 1963, Nick Tosches' bios of Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis, James Kaplin on Frank Sinatra, or Sylvie Simmons' superb account of the complexities of Leonard Cohen. So serious readers are allowed to... more >>

Slow Dancer (1982)

2 Dec 2013

HARRY SEIDLER; A SINGULAR VISION  by HELEN O'NEILL

HARRY SEIDLER; A SINGULAR VISION by HELEN O'NEILL

While there is no denying the iconic status of the Sydney Opera House which was formally opened 40 years and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it would be much harder to make the case that its designer Jorn Utzon from Denmark made much of an impact on the Sydney skyline. Certainly not as much as his friend Harry Seidler who was a great supporter of Utzon whose fraught tenure on the... more >>

25 Nov 2013

HOW TO HEAR CLASSICAL MUSIC by DAVINIA CADDY

HOW TO HEAR CLASSICAL MUSIC by DAVINIA CADDY

At the height of Beatlemania when they realised the earning power of their songs, John Lennon and Paul McCartney would, according to the latter, sit down and say, “Let's write a swimming pool”. And when Sammy Cahn (1913-95, lyricist for scores of Broadway and Hollywood songs) was asked which came first, the words or the music, he always quipped, “the phone... more >>

Hooked on Mozart

18 Nov 2013

RINGO STARR, PHOTOGRAPHER TO THE STARS (2103): Photograph by Ringo Starr

RINGO STARR, PHOTOGRAPHER TO THE STARS (2103): Photograph by Ringo Starr

Although he might no longer be doing autographs for fans, Ringo Starr sat down and signed all 2500 copies of his limited edition book Photograph for Genesis Publications. Another in Genesis' long line of high-end productions, Photograph -- cannily named because it was also one of Ringo's biggest solo hits -- comes as a 300-page leather-bound hardback in a special case and contains hundreds... more >>

5 Nov 2013

GRACE TAYLOR PROFILED (2013): Speaking from the heart

GRACE TAYLOR PROFILED (2013): Speaking from the heart

Auckland's Southside Arts Festival is a showcase and shop window for talented artists of all persuasions from South Auckland, among them the young poet-spoken word artist Grace Taylor whose debut collection Afakasi Speaks will be launched at Fresh Gallery in Otara on Saturday Nov 2, 7pm. Taylor, co-founder of the South Auckland Poets Collective and the Rising Voices Youth Poetry Movement,... more >>

30 Oct 2013

THE YOUNG DESIRE IT by KENNETH MacKENZIE

THE YOUNG DESIRE IT by KENNETH MacKENZIE

As a coming-of-age story, this first novel by a young Australian writer would doubtless alarm those who quickly leaped to condemn Ted Dawe's Into the River, which recently won this country's Young Adult Fiction award. Mackenzie's floridly-written book has the pretty young-teen Charles Fox from a rural property in West Australia nervously off to a city boarding school where – on... more >>

29 Sep 2013

WAYNE MACAULEY INTERVIEWED (2013): You want fries with that book?

WAYNE MACAULEY INTERVIEWED (2013): You want fries with that book?

If you're a fan of MasterChef and have glossy recipe books on your shelves, then Melbourne's Wayne Macauley has a novel for you. If you despise the current overload of television cooking shows and obsession with food he's got exactly the same one. Macauley's The Cook – which won the inaugural 2012 Most Underrated Book Award in Australia – has been hailed as a brilliant... more >>

18 May 2013    1

NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY by RON RASH

NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY by RON RASH

Being praised by, among many others, Daniel Woodrell – the author of the bleak Winter's Bone which was made into a suitably monochromatic and emotionally grim feature film – is indicative of where Ron Rash's fiction lies on the graph. Woodrell's novel was set in the Ozark's where characters were haunted by methamphetamine addiction and poverty, Rash's sometimes not... more >>

30 Mar 2013

IN BETWEEN DAYS by ANDREW PORTER

IN BETWEEN DAYS by ANDREW PORTER

Under a title which becomes increasingly ambiguous as his cleverly structured narrative gets deeper and darker (night? limbo?), American writer Porter has crafted a novel of emotional insight, increasing tension and a story which pulls the reader into unusual but always credible family circumstances. Porter lets details of a pivotal incident seep slowly through the narrative, the... more >>

24 Feb 2013

UNKNOWN PLEASURES; INSIDE JOY DIVISION read by PETER HOOK (8CD set)

UNKNOWN PLEASURES; INSIDE JOY DIVISION read by PETER HOOK (8CD set)

Over eight and half hours in a box of eight discs, here Joy Division bassist Peter Hook tells his own story -- and his own meat'n'potatoes version of the band's career -- which is compellingly grim, cold and a catalogue of failures, fights (with the audience, and within their early audience), hopeless recording sessions and mistake after mistake as they joined the punk excitement and, like so... more >>

He's Possessed by the Devil, That Twat

16 Feb 2013

HAP WORKING THE WORLD by HAP CAMERON

HAP WORKING THE WORLD by HAP CAMERON

Told with all the enthusiasm of a man on his third beer at the barbecue, Cameron recounts his free-wheeling globe-trotting adventures after deciding, at 23, to see all seven continents before he was 30. Like a passport-carrying Sam Cash from Barry Crump's stories, Cameron from Nelson offers the kind of backpacker, thumb-out yarn which should have considerable appeal for the Lonely... more >>

1 Feb 2013

I'M YOUR MAN; THE LIFE OF LEONARD COHEN by SYLVIE SIMMONS

I'M YOUR MAN; THE LIFE OF LEONARD COHEN by SYLVIE SIMMONS

On the eve of his first tour as a musician in 1970 a nervous Leonard Cohen -- aged 34, an acclaimed poet and novelist itinerant between hometown Montreal, the Greek island of Hydra and New York's Chelsea Hotel – requested a mask be made for him to wear while performing. One of his own face. As biographer Sylvie Simmons – astutely unpicking Cohen's life, lyrics, poems and... more >>

6 Jan 2013