Writing in Elsewhere

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

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UNRULY; A HISTORY OF ENGLAND'S KINGS AND QUEENS by DAVID MITCHELL

18 Nov 2023  |  5 min read

David Mitchell is an educated man, he went to a private school and read history at Cambridge University but the distraction of the theatre company meant he only graduated with slightly diminished degree. Still, a very smart man. David Mitchell is also very well known from British panel shows like 8 Out of 10 Cats and Would I Lie to You. David Mitchell is a comedian . . .  and... > Read more

SPYING AND THE CROWN by RICHARD J ALDRICH and RORY CORMAC

10 Nov 2023  |  3 min read

Anyone who believes the fairy-story that the British monarchy stands apart from politics is advised to skim the contents of this page-turner subtitled “The Secret Relationship Between British Intelligence and the Royals”. It covers considerable and often racy ground from the first Elizabeth to the most recent one through various monarchs and, just as importantly their satellite... > Read more

NORMAN KIRK: REMEMBERED AND RESPECTED (2023): Why man, he did bestride the narrow world like a Colossus

9 Nov 2023  |  5 min read

There is something of a Shakespearean tragedy about the life – and especially the painful, protracted death – of Norman Kirk. Consider the first draft. ACT I The young man of humble stock works manual labour, builds his own house for his family, has a common touch and a warm heart, and is a voracious reader. Through the pages he discovers lands beyond his own,... > Read more

DON BINNEY; FLIGHT PATH by GREGORY O'BRIEN (2023): When art takes flight

6 Nov 2023  |  5 min read

In a 2001 interview the artist/photographer Don Binney – then in his early 60s -- reflected on when he'd come back from time overseas the early Seventies. He saw 1973 as the start of an emotional decline back in a country which no longer sustained him and seemed unwelcoming. The art scene had changed since his golden period in the Sixties and prior to his departure; new galleries... > Read more

URGENT MOMENTS: ART AND SOCIAL CHANGE; THE LETTING SPACE PROJECTS 2010–2020 edited by MARK AMERY, AMBBER CLASON, SOPHIE JERRAM

5 Nov 2023  |  1 min read

Much contemporary art aiming for controversy has a short shelf-life. It takes the grand gesture – Damien Hirst's shark in formaldehyde or diamond-encrusted skull – to really get people talking. Who now remembers the early 90s controversy around Virgin in a Condom – a meagre idea poorly executed - let alone the artist's name? Sex and Catholicism: the clickbait of... > Read more

JENNY McLEOD; A LIFE IN MUSIC. EXTRACT (2023): Drugs, rock'n'roll and Hair

13 Oct 2023  |  3 min read

Elsewhere has reviewed Norman Meehan's thorough and highly readable account of the vibrant life of New Zealand composer Jenny McLeod but here we offer, with permission, an exclusive extract which finds McLeod at a turning point in her life which, to this point, had been largely devoted to classical music and lecturing. Life changed . . .   . The soundtrack accompanying... > Read more

JENNY McLEOD; A LIFE IN MUSIC by NORMAN MEEHAN

9 Oct 2023  |  3 min read

In 1971 when Jenny McLeod was appointed head of the Music School at Victoria University in Wellington she was just 28. She took over from Frederick Page after the obvious successor Douglas Lilburn – whom McLeod respected and admired to the point of a lover's infatuation – had quit, withdrawn to the electronic studio and said he didn't intend to apply for the position. McLeod... > Read more

GOOD AS GOLD; NEW ZEALAND IN THE 1980s by MATT ELLIOTT

8 Oct 2023  |  1 min read

So, if you were there, what was the Eighties to you? Springbok Tour, Queen Street Riot, the Rainbow Warrior bombing, Lange and Douglas? Or Flying Nun, indie rock, the rise of breakdancing and hip-hop? And Poi E? Maybe you were caught up in the adrenalin rush of the stockmarket with the Chase Corporation and Equiticorp, bought up shares and borrowed to do so, long lunches and living... > Read more

LINE IN THE SAND by DEAN YATES

3 Sep 2023  |  3 min read

Dean Yates had seen the worst of this world: at his fingertips are the bodies of women, children and men mutilated by war or environmental tragedy; homes and villages bombed beyond recognition; the industrial might of nations unleashed as murderous military hardware . . . As a Reuters correspondent he covered an accumulation of terrible events: the aftermath of the Bali bombings, three... > Read more

THE WAGER by DAVID GRANN

12 Aug 2023  |  4 min read

A decade ago Peter Fitzsimons published his extraordinary book Batavia, an almost forensically detailed account of a 17th century shipwreck when the Batavia – on its maiden voyage for the Dutch East India Company – hit a reef off the coast of Australia and its survivors struggled onto a small island group, some on separate patches of barren rock and sand. As gripping as... > Read more

1964: EYES OF THE STORM by PAUL McCARTNEY

8 Jul 2023  |  3 min read

When the Beatles flew to balmy Miami from wintry Washington DC in February 1964 they were taking a week-long and well-deserved break. If 1963 had been a year of incremental fame in Britain, 1964 had – even at this early stage – seen a youthquake of hysteria in the US which would ripple around the globe. In early January they had been in London, later in the month they were... > Read more

She Loves You, by Barry Markwick

SONGS FROM THE FRONT LAWN by MATTHEW BANNISTER

29 Jun 2023  |  7 min read  |  1

The Bloomsbury Academic imprint 33⅓ is an interesting and useful series of small format books in which specialist writers undertake the challenge of writing about a specific album. Sometimes these take the form of a close focus on the record in question, at other times writers take a broad, wide and deep analysis of albums as emblematic of something in popular culture or the... > Read more

LEON RUSSELL by BILL JANOVITZ

5 Jun 2023  |  4 min read  |  1

As many researchers and journalists discovered, lockdown wasn't all bad: it allowed studies to continue uninterrupted and – when it came to writing about musicians – they were off the road, sitting around the house and happy to be interviewed by phone or Zoom. It wasn't like they were going anywhere. So Covid worked in favour of writers like Bill Janovitz (of Buffalo Tom)... > Read more

Lady Blue, from Signature Songs, 2001

SPACE WALTZ by IAN CHAPMAN

4 Jun 2023  |  6 min read

For a band which enjoyed a hit single, recorded just one album then fell apart almost 50 years ago, many myths, much misinformation and numerous questions surround Auckland's Space Waltz. Not the least, were they even a band?  They were introduced as such on September 1 1974 when they appeared on the New Faces television talent show performing Out on the Street, an outrageously... > Read more

Hard Work, from Victory

THE BEATLES 1963; A YEAR IN THE LIFE by DAFYDD REES

29 May 2023  |  3 min read

Earlier this year a remarkable and unexpected discovery was made, a tape of the Beatles performing live at a boy's school in Buckinghamshire on April 4, 1963. Six decades on this hour-long tape not only captured the band before the mayhem started – it happened two weeks after the release of their debut album Please Please Me and before Beatlemania kicked in – but was of a... > Read more

DON'T TELL ANYBODY THE SECRETS I TOLD YOU by LUCINDA WILLIAMS

25 May 2023  |  3 min read

Distilled from hundreds of hours of recorded interviews and conversations, this slim but insightful and revealing memoir by one of America's greatest living songwriters cuts straight through the fat, scrapes through sinew and gets down to the bone. Lucinda Williams is unsparingly honest about growing up itinerant with her father (an aspiring poet taking new teaching positions every couple... > Read more

WANDERLUST by REID MITENBULER

21 May 2023  |  3 min read

This exceptional biography of the Danish explorer, author and actor (and much more), Peter Freuchen opens with him as a young man buried under snow in the Arctic wilderness with little air and even less energy, unable to dig himself out. It ends with his sudden death at age 71 in Anchorage, Alaska as he was preparing for another adventure – a flight over the North Pole. Between... > Read more

IN PERFECT HARMONY by WILL HODGKINSON

4 May 2023  |  3 min read  |  1

First of all put aside any prejudice when you see the subtitle of this very large hardback: “Singalong Pop in '70s Britain”. Yes you will read about the New Seekers, made-up bands like Edison Lighthouse and Blue Mink, salacious songwriters like opportunist Jonathan King and, of course, Abba, Boney M, Carl (Kung Fu Fighting) Douglas and the Partridge Family. But this... > Read more

PULL DOWN THE SHADES, GARAGE FANZINE 1984-86, edited by RICHARD LANGSTON

17 Apr 2023  |  6 min read

The internet has robbed us of many things, mostly an intelligent dialogue and the ability to disagree without resorting to personal insults. But it also has opened the small corners of the world to us, so ideas, people, cultures, places and music we might not have known existed are now readily available. However there is a downside to that also, particularly in the world of popular... > Read more

THE McCARTNEY LEGACY VOL. 1 1969-73 by ALLAN KOZINN and ADRIAN SINCLAIR

8 Mar 2023  |  6 min read

The opening pages of this scrupulously researched and detailed, small print 700 page book offer an uncharacteristic image of Paul McCartney. He's throwing a bucket of slops and dinner leftovers at a photographer and journalist, and cussing them out angrily because they've found him at his remote farm High Park on the west coast of Scotland. It is November 1969 and the pair – after... > Read more