Writing in Elsewhere

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

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WHO ARE THE PLASTIC ONO BAND? edited by SIMON HILTON

19 Mar 2021  |  4 min read

In 1970, John Lennon and Yoko Ono simultaneously released albums which were defining in their careers and, in deliberately similar covers, both appeared as Plastic Ono Band albums. Lennon's Imagine of the following year may have sold a lot more – spurred on by the single – but no other album in his life was as coherent and as courageous as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The... > Read more

ONE TWO THREE FOUR: THE BEATLES IN TIME by CRAIG BROWN

3 Feb 2021  |  3 min read

In 1963 when she was 14, Melanie Coe from Stamford Hill in London won a dance competition in a television studio. One of the members of the band in a nearby studio presented her with a copy of the group's new album, Please Please Me. Three years later, pregnant and restless in the rapidly changing times, she abruptly ran away from home and the story of her disappearance appeared in the... > Read more

PAUL DIBBLE, X: A DECADE OF SCULPTURE 2010-2020 by FRAN DIBBLE

18 Nov 2020  |  1 min read

This large format paperback with short explanatory text by the famed sculptor's artist wife and sometime collaborator is largely a photo collection of Paul Dibble at work in the studio and his often striking pieces shown in situ. After a short introductory chapter the publication is divided into prominent themes: abstraction and rather stunning figurative pieces of standing figures;... > Read more

BILLY APPLEⓇLIFE/WORK by CHRISTINA BARTON

17 Nov 2020  |  4 min read

Although a jury of art critics and curators might reach a favourable consensus about Billy AppleⓇ's 1974 exhibition From Barrie Bates to Billy AppleⓇ1960-1974 – which occupied the Serpentine Gallery in London -- we can guess how the hoi polloi would have dismissed with disbelief and possibly anger. If they'd bothered to see it. This was an entirely self-centred... > Read more

LOVE AMERICA by JENNY ROBIN JONES

3 Nov 2020  |  2 min read

What an odd book. Although nominally a travel book if you are to believe the subtitle “On the Trail of Writers and Artists in New Mexico”, the author hardly went anywhere in New Mexico in the very short time there (just days) and even when in Taos (three days) didn't get to see what she was looking for. She and her traveling companion – an older man, seemingly a former... > Read more

THE BEATLES IN COMICS by MICHELS MABEL and GAET'S

23 Sep 2020  |  1 min read

Some weeks ago with a bit of downtime and prompted by a comic All Our Yesterdays -- which traced the Beatles' career -- we offered an illustrated look at how the Beatles had been portrayed as cartoon and comic characters. One things was clear, many artists didn't feel the need to try to portray their subjects faithfully. Sometimes a Beatle mop-top was all that needed.... > Read more

CANONS: COMPLETE LYRICS 2015-2020 by NADIA REID

10 Sep 2020  |  2 min read

In the Time Before Covid, Nadia Reid launched her exceptional Out of My Province album at a small event in the elegant Pah Homestead in Auckland. She performed a brief but very pointed set which confirmed that here – after two previous and acclaimed albums – was an artist of rare stature who could hush a room and engage on a level of intimacy. Her new album was... > Read more

UTOPIA AVENUE by DAVID MITCHELL

4 Sep 2020  |  2 min read  |  2

Around the midpoint of this 560 page doorstop by the acclaimed writer David Mitchell, anyone who has a loose working knowledge of how Sixties pop and rock bands like the Beatles, Stones, Who and others formed will be wondering what the point of this book is. Mitchell here writes of a fictional British band Utopia Avenue, pulled together by a manager who is astute, gay... > Read more

A LIFETIME IN GALAPAGOS by TUI DE ROY

8 Jun 2020  |  3 min read

A long time ago when studying botany and zoology for a career as marine biologist, I became fascinated by Charles Darwin. Not just his work on natural selection or how his thinking shifted God from the centre of Western thinking, but his life. Over the years when it was clear I was not cut out to be a marine biologist – the university, unfairly I believe, thought I... > Read more

COLIN McCAHON: IS THIS THE PROMISED LAND? VOL II 1960 – 1987 by PETER SIMPSON

25 May 2020  |  4 min read

When Peter Simpson left Colin McCahon at the end of the first volume of this superb series, the artist was at a turning point. McCahon had moved to Auckland after a successful career in the South Island, had turned 40 and – although he could not know this – was at the midpoint of his artistic career. Simpson now picks up this story with his customary... > Read more

STOP THE CLOCK by GORDON McLAUCHLAN

17 May 2020  |  3 min read

It's interesting to speculate on what the writer, journalist and social observer Gordon McLauchlan – who died in January age 89 – would have made of the recent pandemic lockdown. Doubtless he would have something astute to say about the language of politicians, scientists and business people, the behaviour of the masses and some wry observation of those miscreants who refused to... > Read more

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES, by PRINCE, edited by DAN PIEPENBRING

27 Jan 2020  |  2 min read

Although controversial, seductive when courting attention and often presenting a salacious public persona, Prince was one of the most musically innovative artists of his era. He channeled psychedelic Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone funk and the sex'n'soul salvation of Marvin Gaye among others to create a unique musical amalgam which bridged genres. And, with his extraordinary Sign O The... > Read more

PACIFIC; AN OCEAN OF WONDERS by PHILIP J HATFIELD

20 Dec 2019  |  2 min read

When it comes to considering the Pacific Ocean, everyone is at a disadvantage. In our part of the world we look at that what Baldrick called the “big blue wobbly thing” and we think of Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Niue and other near neighbours. That to most of us in Aotearoa New Zealand is what the Pacific means. But if you are in Chile, Mexico, the Pacific North West... > Read more

OUT THERE; SCAPE PUBLIC ART 1998-2018 by WARREN FEENEY

27 Nov 2019  |  4 min read

For many years I have taken music classes at the University of Auckland in a lecture theatre which isn't that easy to find. So when I have guest speakers I tell them I will meet them on Symonds St outside the Engineering building, the one with huge Paul Hartigan abstract neon sculpture in the lobby, which is visible from the road. In five years not one guest as ever needed any... > Read more

WIRED FOR SOUND: THE STEBBING HISTORY OF NEW ZEALAND MUSIC by GRANT GILLANDERS and ROBYN WELSH

8 Nov 2019  |  4 min read

Some lives encompass multitudes. Take that of Eldred Stebbing, a man in the vanguard of many aspects of the New Zealand recording and music industry, who died a decade ago next month at age 88. He was born when air travel was in its infancy, movies were silent, there were market gardens around Avondale where he lived and Auckland's population was about... > Read more

MOPHEAD by SELINA TUSITALA MARSH

23 Oct 2019  |  1 min read  |  1

Auckland academic, former New Zealand Poet Laureate, award-magnet Selina Tusitala March – the first person of Pacific Island descent to get a PhD in English at the University of Auckland – has appeared a couple of times previously at Elsewhere with her poems Fast Talking PI and Guys Like Gaugin. But this self-illustrated book takes her in another direction, back through a... > Read more

COLIN McCAHON: THERE IS ONLY ONE DIRECTION VOL. I 1919 - 1959 by PETER SIMPSON

11 Oct 2019  |  6 min read

There is an easy and perhaps even amusing heresy to commit in New Zealand art: simply say aloud at a swanky cocktail party you think Colin McCahon is over-rated. When the sound of foreheads being slapped and sharp intakes of breath have faded you can drill down: his palette was limited (no cheery sky-blue available, Colin?); his representational figures are child-like in execution;... > Read more

NAILING DOWN THE SAINT by CRAIG CLIFF

25 Sep 2019  |  1 min read

At the narrative axis of this digressive second novel by Wellington writer Craig Cliff is one of the more idiosyncratic saints in the Catholic catalogue: the 17thcentury Joseph of Copertino who, according to contemporary accounts, levitated when in a state of grace or ecstasy. It is this aerial Joseph – patron saint of aviators but not the brightest of lights – which expat Kiwi... > Read more

CHAOS: CHARLES MANSON, THE CIA, AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE SIXTIES by TOM O'NEILL with DAN PIEPENBRING

10 Sep 2019  |  4 min read

This being the 50thanniversary of what has become known as the Manson Murders – and Quentin Tarantino currently weighing in with his version of events on the periphery of those particular horrors – you'd think there would be little more to be said. There have been dozens of books and articles in the five decades since the arrest of Manson and his Family, and films and TV... > Read more

FRANCES HODGKINS; EUROPEAN JOURNEYS edited by CATHERINE HAMMOND and MARY KISLER

29 Apr 2019  |  4 min read

There is a delightful little watercolour – smaller than an A4 sheet – painted by Frances Hodgkins in 1930. It is of a gateway on the Riviera. She was 31 and on her way to Britain and it seems that this was the first painting she did outside of New Zealand which she had recently left for the first time. If that is so, it is a wonderfully emblematic work: women in the... > Read more