Kirsty Gunn

Veering Wildly: Jayne Anne Phillips

Kirsty Gunn, 31 July 2014

The​ most interesting novels are always a bit strange. The stories bend and shift with the author’s own predilections; they reject the predictable progress of conventional plotlines in favour of something that feels more risky and open-ended. They often go off the rails, these books, veering into the wide open spaces of the contingent and unexpected, in defiance of the kind of fiction...

Katherine Mansfield’s work is still largely unknown in this country. Her life flickered on the margins of British literary modernism, with friends among the Garsington and Bloomsbury set, but she was always the outsider, the traveller, always on the move. There’s nothing about Mansfield that’s institutional. She knew Woolf and Lawrence and the rest, published in the same...

From The Blog
27 March 2019

When the news came in about the shootings in New Zealand on 15 March my first thought was: Taihape. Or Pahiatua. Or Bulls. One of those small, dark-shadowed towns that sit alone in the interior of the country, surrounded by hills dense with bush and acres of paddocky grass that gets scraped back to the bone of dry earth in the summer heat. It’s been a long summer, there, New Zealand friends have been telling me, high, high temperatures, and no break in the weather. And yes, I thought, straight away: I can see someone opening fire in one of those places. Having grown up in New Zealand, though a long time ago, and knowing a bit about those remote communities – with their corrugated-iron shopfronts and pub doors flung upon into the evening with the sounds of men’s voices like a raging tide inside in the darkness, the smell of DB and Tui beer and cigarettes, and the utes parked up waiting for them with farm gear baled on the back, a few dogs scrabbling on the trailer – well, I remember guns.



15 July 2021

I wish James Meek had come further up the road when he was researching his article about the toxic and unrecorded side effects of wind turbine development. In east Sutherland he could have witnessed the overwhelming, life-inhibiting presence of these giant industrial turbines on our beautiful hills. The structures, which one local protest group calls ‘Rings of Steel’, aren’t just environmentally...

Waving the Past Goodbye

Lorna Sage, 3 April 1997

Mona Simpson’s novels are long and loose, and make compulsive reading. She not only writes about obsession, but she passes on the effect with extraordinary directness, almost as though...

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