Writing in Elsewhere

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BANKSY; THE MAN BEHIND THE WALL by WILL ELSWORTH-JONES

9 Dec 2012  |  4 min read

When, in 2008, Britain's Mail on Sunday identified who it thought to be the anonymous stencil artist Banksy, there were numerous complaints. “Why have you done this? I don't understand,” wrote one disgruntled reader. “You have ruined something special.” As Robin Barton, owner of Bankrobber Gallery which sells Banksy prints, said, “People really don't want... > Read more

J.R.R. TOLKIEN: The Wagner of Middle Earth

28 Nov 2012  |  3 min read

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wasn't much of a writer -- not in the technical sense of being a stylist anyway. His characters were flat and archetypal, and they often stood for something, rather than just being. Well, that's what some in the literary establishment believe. They also say he drew the maps in his books to compensate for his lack of literary skills. But as with J.K. Rowling... > Read more

1912: THE YEAR THE WORLD DISCOVERED ANTARCTICA by CHRIS TURNEY

9 Nov 2012  |  4 min read

In late September, one of the world's biggest aircraft started ferrying a few hundred scientists and support crew down to Antarctica, once a remote frozen wasteland at the bottom of the planet. These days almost 50 nations – Korea among the most recent – are represented down there, you can explore it on Google maps, and regular visitors include writers, artists,... > Read more

BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK by BEN FOUNTAIN

11 Sep 2012  |  3 min read

Any thinking American who read Generation Kill, Evan Wright's remarkable account of being an embedded journalist with an advance group of Marines during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, would immediately consign the notion of military heroes to the grave. Here was a modern American army unit, hyped up on testosterone, video game culture and pure caffeine, involved in a shapeless war and... > Read more

EREWHON CALLING; EXPERIMENTAL SOUND IN NEW ZEALAND edited by BRUCE RUSSELL (Audio Foundation//CMR)

3 Sep 2012  |  4 min read

Although New Zealand has a comparatively short history of original and indigenous music (outside of waiata, of course), there has also been a significant tradition of experiment in sound, which in one direction we might date back to Douglas Lilburn's work in the mid-Sixties when he founded Victoria University's electronic studio. From that lineage came the likes of John Rimmer, John... > Read more

Ives

CATCHING THE SUN by TONY PARSONS

11 Aug 2012  |  2 min read

All across the Pacific, South East Asia and in fact anywhere warm, cheap and exotic to Europeans, there are men – and sometimes families – who have washed up and are foundering in places which once beckoned as an escape from their previous lives. But those palm-lined white sand beaches, vibrant marketplaces, cheap drinks and lazy days enjoyed on a holiday can take on darker... > Read more

MUSEUM CURATOR BRIAN GILL INTERVIEWED (2012): Past perfect for the future

4 Aug 2012  |  3 min read

In the 21st century museum of the popular imagination, musty cases and specimens under glass have been replaced by brightly coloured interactive displays, whizz-bang educational sites for youngsters and holograms in place of artifacts. This state-of-the-art museum is noisy and full of life, unlike those ill-lit halls where stooped older people shuffled around, silently peering at fossils... > Read more

EXIT STRATEGIES: GRANTA 118 edited by JOHN FREEMAN

22 Jul 2012  |  2 min read

Although the title phrase here has been appropriated by the corporate world – often as a nod'n'wink euphemism for an obscene and absurdly high contract pay-out – the British literary magazine Granta takes a broader view in this typically interesting, if uneven, collection of 18 new works by established and new writers alike. The most senior is the least of them as 80-year... > Read more

THE NZ BOOK by LUNNON, MACKECHNIE, FITZSIMONS and BECKFORD (FitzBeck)

16 Jul 2012  |  2 min read

One of the writers of this attractive page-turner has already appeared at Elsewhere, but in a very different capacity. Nigel Beckford was one of the prime movers behind the terrific double CD and book Songs from the Bottom of a Hilltop which was one of our Best of Elsewhere 2010 albums. Then more recently I noted he had also been in the group the heretical group the Inhalers when I pulled... > Read more

THE ROLLING STONES; FIFTY YEARS by CHRISTOPHER SANDFORD

5 Jun 2012  |  3 min read

Reading this well paced and page-turning overview of the Rolling Stones' career, lives and finances, the surprise is not that they have survived 50 years, but that they survived 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 . . . For more than a decade from the mid Sixties the Stones diced with death and self destruction, and yet out of that crucible of chaos at concerts, condemnation, drug busts, deaths... > Read more

THE BARONESS by HANNAH ROTHSCHILD

25 May 2012  |  4 min read

Some patrons of the arts are rewarded with physical legacies: the family name on the wing of a major gallery, a sculpture park, their portraits in public collections . . . Others make do with ephemeral acknowledgement, like Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter whose name is written invisibly in the air by a couple of dozen jazz compositions written for her. The Baroness – aka Nica... > Read more

Round Midnight (1947)

PERLMANN'S SILENCE by PASCAL MERCIER

25 Mar 2012  |  2 min read

Those who are nervous about speaking in public usually have the perfect way out, they simply don't do it. And, for most, the required occasions are mercifully few so the paralysing fear never has to be addressed. But what of those for whom being in the public eye is what they do? What if they are struck with an anxiety attack or stage fright? The more they consider it, the worse the... > Read more

THE NEW 1000 PLACES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE by PATRICIA SCHULTZ

9 Mar 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

Any book of lists with a number in the title perhaps deserves some mathematical anaylsis. So first, the numbers. The 2003 original edition of this book sold three million copies and was number one on the New York Times best seller list. That's impressive -- and it spawned a number of spin-offs, not the least being  Travel Channel series and, more recently, an app. But there are... > Read more

IN THE ABSENCE OF HEROES by ANTHONY McCARTEN

26 Feb 2012  |  2 min read

Recently, while sitting in airport lounge in Sydney waiting for a flight home, I glanced up from my hardcover book and surveyed the other travelers in my immediate vicinity. Everyone of them – perhaps 40 in total, of all ages from preschoolers to the elderly, from diverse backgrounds and cultures – was on some kind of electronic device. This our world, the one where... > Read more

THE WORLD OF TINTIN. The timeless boy

22 Jan 2012  |  7 min read

Age has not wearied him -- and nor can it. The little adventurer with a distinctive flick to his forelock, oddly unfashionable plus-fours and rarely a change of clothes, is frozen in time. As he globetrots from the old Orient to the Land of the Pharaohs - and even the Moon - he looks as he ever did. Yet in 2009 he turned 80. However he is with us still -- and suddenly back in the headlines... > Read more

AEROSMITH, THE ULTIMATE HISTORY OF THE BOSTON BAD BOYS by RICHARD BIENSTOCK

16 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

The real problem with the story of Aerosmith's five decade career is that -- despite the drugs, decadence, women, partying and internal friction -- it is rather boring. It follows such a familiar story arc: young and hungry band models itself on bad boys like the Rolling Stones, takes drugs, works in clubs, gets contract, makes albums and tours and then straightens up a bit and makes more... > Read more

Sweet Emotion

NO REGRETS; A ROCK'N'ROLL MEMOIR by ACE FREHLEY

7 Dec 2011  |  3 min read

One of the more unusual and least played albums in my collection is Spaceways: A Salute to Ace Frehley from the mid Nineties on which people like Sebastian Bach, Gilby Clarke, Tracii Guns, Dimebag Darrell and others lined up to pay tribute to the original guitarist in Kiss. We say "original" because the Kiss story has seen him sidelined a few times, sometimes at his own volition.... > Read more

Take Me To The City

BULLFIGHTING by RODDY DOYLE

5 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

A recent profile of the astonishingly productive British military historian Max Hasting – a few thousand words a day, almost every day it seems – must have come as depressing reading for anyone struggling for years over their first novel, or even just a volume of poetry. If so, then there is more bad news in that Ireland's 53-year old Booker Prize-winning Roddy Doyle has yet... > Read more

CLAPTON, THE ULTIMATE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY by CHRIS WELCH

28 Nov 2011  |  2 min read  |  1

Open this handsome, cleanly presented, large format book at the midpoint of its 256 colourful pages and you learn much about its contents from just two words. The words are "Blind Faith", the name of the band Eric Clapton formed with drummer Ginger Baker, keyboard player Steve Winwood and bassist/violonist Ric Grech in 1969 and was launched by a debut concert in London's Hyde Park... > Read more

Hideaway

SPEAKING FRANKLY: THE FRANK SARGESON MEMORIAL LECTURES 2003-2010 edited by SARAH SHIEFF

27 Nov 2011  |  2 min read

Get past the crushingly obvious title and the cheap looking cover, and inside this collection are eight provocative, interesting, idiosyncratic and insightful essays which speak not just of New Zealand's Frank Sargeson but in some instances of how we see ourselves and our writers. You might also need to skip the introduction which begins with the uninviting, “ '23 March 1903,... > Read more