Our Haunting Selection of Halloween Reads

Here then at long last is my darkness. No cry of light, no glimmer, not even the faintest shard of hope to break free across the hold — Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

Many of the core elements of Halloween are thought to have originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals. On All Hallows’ Eve the boundary between the physical and spiritual world was thought to be at it’s thinnest.

The festival has also long been associated with the consumption of food, a few examples being potato pancakes, apples and soul cakes. It was traditional to abstain from eating meat, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods to this day.  It was in America in the 20th century that it was turned into the candy-coloured, sugar rush holiday that it is today. Indeed Halloween is now one of the major North American holidays.

Much of the modern imagery for Halloween has its roots in fiction, especially Gothic and horror fiction, with iconic characters such as Frankenstein, the Mummy and Dracula. So to put you in a Halloween mood we have selected some strange and macabre tales to shiver the spine and chill the soul for Halloween. And a few have a distinctly Kiwi twist on the supernatural world–enjoy!


Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus / Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
“No-one in the grip of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, with its mythic-minded hero and its highly sympathetic monster who reads Goethe and longs to be at peace with himself, can fail to notice how much more excellent the original is than all the adaptations and imitations which have followed. In her first novel, Mary Shelley produced English Romanticism’s finest prose fiction.” (Adapted from Catalogue). For availability of the 1931 classic film, click here.

Dracula / Stoker, Bram
“When newly qualified solicitor Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help a new client purchase a residence in London, he is unaware that he will be lucky to escape with his life. Harker’s fateful visit to Count Dracula’s castle begins a series of disturbing events, as the malevolence he discovers there reaches across continents and oceans to twist and abuse his loved ones at home in England.” (Adapted from Catalogue) For availability of Christopher Lee’s first Dracula Film click here.

The scarecrow / Morrieson, Ronald Hugh
“Ronald Hugh Morrieson combines Boys’ Own adventure, psychological thriller, small-town saga and family farce to produce a unique masterpiece. 14-year-old Neddy Poindexter and his mate Les proceed to take swift revenge on the chook-rustling Lynch Gang, but things turn sinister when the vulture-like Hubert Salter stalks into the small community of Klynham. There is a  killer on the loose – and Neddy is in terrible fear for the safety of his sister.” (Catalogue) For availability of the 1981 film click here.

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Militant Tahoe separatists are active in the area, and with its cloying mist and steep ravines, the forest is a treacherous place. Yet nothing has prepared Taine for the true danger that awaits them.  Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wake / Knox, Elizabeth
“One sunny spring morning the Tasman Bay settlement of Kahukura is overwhelmed by a mysterious mass insanity. A handful of survivors find themselves cut off from the world, and surrounded by the dead. As they try to take care of one another, and survive in ever more difficult circumstances, it becomes apparent that this isn’t the first time that this has happened. And, it seems, they are trapped with something. Something unseen is picking at the loose threads of their characters, corrupting, provoking, and haunting them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of leaves / Danielewski, Mark Z
“A blind old man, a young apprentice working in a tattoo shop, and a mad woman haunting an Ohio institute narrate this story of a family that encounters an endlessly shifting series of hallways in their new home, eventually coming face to face with the awful darkness lying at its heart. Focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The shining / King, Stephen
“Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.” (Adapted from Catalogue) For availability of the legendary Stanley Kubrick film click here.

Teatro grottesco / Ligotti, Thomas
“This collection features tormented individuals who play out their doom in various odd little towns, as well as in dark sectors frequented by sinister and often blackly comical eccentrics. The cycle of narratives that includes the title work of this collection, for instance, introduces readers to a freakish community of artists who encounter demonic perils that ultimately engulf their lives. These are selected examples of the forbidding array of persons and places that compose the mesmerizing fiction of Thomas Ligotti.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hunger / Katsu, Alma
“After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented – the other untested, but rumoured to be shorter. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realise that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

The Wild Card: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Renée

This year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist is full of outstanding New Zealand novels that cover a wide range of styles and tones in stories entwined with crime, mystery, thrills, and suspense. And it is going to be a really difficult task for the judges to pick a winner.

Amongst the shortlist for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards is New Zealand writing icon and legend Renée. Born in 1929 in Napier. After she left school age 12 Renée went on to work in a wide variety of jobs including in a dairy, as a cleaner in an Auckland’s Theatre and as a feature writer and reviewer. After completing a BA in 1979 Renée became more closely involved in community theatre and started writing for the stage. Having written so far over twenty  plays many of them featuring women in leading roles and works that often humanise working-class people.

Renée describes herself as a ‘lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals’ and nearly all of her written works expound these beliefs.

As well as numerous plays Renée has published nine fiction works and in 2018 was awarded the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement. And her fascinating, funny and insightful memoir These Two Hands, initially published in 2017 has been released in a new edition with three new chapters and an index

Renée has also tutored creative writing classes and also presents an annual writing guide for those who have or have had cancer and want to write about that experience.

Astonishingly The Wild Card is her first crime novel. Ruby the female lead in The Wild Card is a strong rounded character and the plot revolves round a crime against a Māori state ward. Described by reviewers as “Superb… a gripping read that covers some brutal topics”.

We wish to extend our most heartfelt thank you to Renée for her time and such a great interview. And we wish her and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered ¿ her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. As Ruby goes deeper into the mystery of Betty’s death, she starts to find answers to questions about herself that she hadn’t dared ask before. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The skeleton woman : a romance / Renée
“A baby on the doorstep, a skeleton woman biding time before the truth comes out. Rose Anthony’s life has just become much more complicated. Renee’s latest novel carries the reader on an entertaining roller coaster ride of mystery and intrigue. A rich tapestry of a tale guaranteed to keep the reader hooked from start to finish. Rose Anthony’s life has just become more complicated. There’s a baby abandoned on her doorstep, and long-kept secrets are about to fly into the open…A tightly plotted literary lesbian romance, delightfully told by New Zealand writer Renee.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Kissing shadows / Renée
“When Vivvie Caird is faced by the sight of her beautiful, strong-willed mother lying limp and speechless in a hospital bed, she feels empowered to begin unlocking the mystery that is her fathers legacy. Vivvies nave undertaking soon finds a parallel in her mothers own account of what happened when her husband left home one day, never to return. A family, and a court must confront a devastating event that occurred in the midst of the hard times of last century. This fast-paced, page-turning novel takes the reader into an absorbing and moving world of shadowy relationships and intrigue.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Wednesday to come : trilogy / Renée
” In Wednesday To Come Renee takes four women of four generations in a single family and looks at how they cope with the Great Depression of the 1930s. In Pass It On, Jeannie and Cliff, the two adolescents joined the hunger march in Wednesday to Come, have each grown up and married. Pass It On explores the very different experiences of Jeannie, the political activist, and Cliff’s wife Nell, and traces their relationship from initial distrust to a firm allegiance against the political and economic forces which threaten their families. Jeannie Once, tells the story of Jeannie’s great grandmother living in Victorian era Dunedin.” (Catalogue)

These two hands : a memoir / Renée
“Renee Paule lives in Otaki and teaches her Your Life, Your Story and her Poem a Week workshops there. This is just one version of her life, her story, told in patches, like a quilt.” (Catalogue)

 

 

And below some of the books Renée mentions in her interview.

Gaudy Night : A Lord Peter Wimsey mystery with Harriet Vane / Sayers, Dorothy L.
” The third Dorothy L. Sayers classic to feature mystery writer Harriet Vane, Gaudy Night features an introduction by Elizabeth George, herself a crime fiction master. Gaudy Night takes Harriet and her paramour, Lord Peter, to Oxford University, Harriet’s alma mater, for a reunion, only to find themselves the targets of a nightmare of harassment and mysterious, murderous threats.
Chicago Tribune ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

And then there were none / Christie, Agatha
“Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Artists in crime / Marsh, Ngaio
“In the movies, it’s known as a “meet cute.” But for Inspector Alleyn and Miss Agatha Troy, it’s more like irritation: On the ship back to England, she finds him tedious and dull; he thinks she’s a bohemian cliché. They may be destined for romance, but there’s a murder in the way: No sooner has Alleyn settled in to his mother’s house, eager for a relaxing end to his vacation, then he gets a call that a model has been stabbed at the artists’ community down the road. And the artistic Miss Troy is one of the community’s most prominent and outspoken members. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mind readers / Allingham, Margery
“Sam Ferris is an ordinary English schoolboy. Well, except for a few things. One: His father is an eminent scientist, based on a military research island off the English coast. Two: Sam is about to be interviewed by a solicitor, giving evidence, in a serious legal matter, against one of his favorite teachers. And three: Sam can read minds. But there’s a four: Sam’s uncle is Albert Campion. And Sam’s story, in all its seemingly unrelated elements, gives his Uncle Albert quite a lot to be curious about. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The broken shore / Temple, Peter
” Shaken by a scrape with death, big-city detective Joe Cashin is posted away from the Homicide Squad to a quiet town on the South Australian coast. Carrying physical scars and not a little guilt, he spends his time playing the country cop, walking his dogs, and thinking about how it all was before. When a prominent local is attacked and left for dead in his own home, Cashin is thrust into a murder investigation. The evidence points to three boys from the nearby aboriginal community, whom everyone wants to blame. Cashin is unconvinced, and soon begins to see the outlines of something far more terrible than a simple robbery gone wrong.”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Films from the Big Apple

I’m staying! You hear that, New York? THE FROG IS STAYING!

― Kermit the Frog, The Muppets Take Manhattan

We recently did a small blog on books set in New York City – but as well as fiction, New York City is one of the most filmed locations on the planet.  The city was first committed to celluloid in 1901 just a few years after the birth of cinema. It’s a vibrant, unique, melting pot, and its multi-cultural population coupled with its iconic skyscrapers and historic monuments  make it a perfect setting for so many tales.

The films stretch from the Jazz Singer (the world’s first talkie) to films that are regarded as all-time classic films such as Citizen Kane,  and The Godfather. There are also legions of films that are loved for different reasons such as  Escape from New York, The Muppets Take Manhattan and Crocodile Dundee. The good news is that many of these iconic New York films are available to borrow from our extensive DVD collection – for our small selection read on – and enjoy.


Frances Ha
“A story that follows a New York woman (who doesn’t really have an apartment), apprentices for a dance company (though she’s not really a dancer), and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possibility dwindles.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The warriors
“The Warriors are a street gang from Coney Island, trapped in the Bronx when a city-wide truce explodes. What follows is non-stop suspense and violent action as they try to get through 28 miles of “enemy territory” with 100,000 gang members after them!” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Breakfast at Tiffany’s [videorecording]
“An eccentric New York City playgirl is determined to marry a Brazilian millionaire, but her next-door neighbour, a writer, changes her plans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

3 Spike Lee joints [videorecording].
“Do the right thing” – Traces the course of a single day on a block in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. It’s the hottest day of the year, a scorching 24-hour period that will change the lives of its residents forever. Also included in this collection “Jungle fever”and “Clockers”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

King Kong [videorecording].
“An expedition exploring a remote island capture a gigantic ape and bring him back to New York for exhibition. A beautiful actress who accompanies them is menaced, when the monster’s love for her causes him to break out” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ghostbusters ; plus, Ghostbusters II. [videorecording] The original “Ghostbusters” and its sequel teamed comedians Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis with director Ivan Reitman, to tell the story of a trio of paranormal investigators who must save the world from the evil clutches of the supernatural.

Taxi driver [videorecording] “Vietnam vet Travis Bickle works as a loner night-shift cabbie in New York. Roving the streets, he kills time by keeping a diary, popping pills and hanging out in porn theatres. A series of frustrations and his encounters with a 14-year-old prostitute compel him to clean up the sordid milieu in which he operates.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Once upon a time in America [videorecording]
” Spanning four decades, the film tells the story of David “Noodles” Aaronson (Robert De Niro) and his Jewish pals, chronicling their childhoods on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1920s, through their gangster careers in the 1930s, and culminating in Noodles’ 1968 return to New York from self-imposed exile, at which time he learns the truth about the fate of his friends and again confronts the nightmare of his past.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Comics in Conversation with Comics: Dial H for Hero Volume One

This is Comics in Conversation with Comics, a blog about comics and graphic novels that highlight, challenge, and celebrate the works that came before them, or say something about comics as an art form overall. This first post looks at the recent DC Comics series Dial H for Hero, by writer Sam Humphries and artist Joe Quinones.

Dial H for Hero is one of DC Comics’ more obscure series, but it’s a title that has a strong following among comic writers for its seemingly infinite potential. First appearing in House of Mystery #156 in January 1966, the premise centers around the H-Dial, a mysterious rotary phone (ask your parents) that, when H-E-R-O is dialed on it, can transform the caller into a random superhero. The 2019 Dial H for Hero series finds the Dial in the hands of two teen runaways, Miguel Montez and Summer Pickens, and this time the dial not only changes them into different comic heroes, but different art styles. These moments are the main draw of the series, referencing famous comics outside of the DC universe such as Dragon Ball, Krazy Kat, Peanuts, Tank Girl, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and paying homage to such celebrated artists like Dan Clowes, Mike Allred, Alex Toth, Rob Liefeld, Moebius and more over the course of the series’ twelve issues.

We’ve listed some of the best comic homages from the first volume, with links to the relevant comics that inspired them if you want to check them out from our collection. You can also reserve volumes one and two of Dial H for Hero here and here if you don’t want to be spoiled on the story.

Manga on Manga

In issue 2 of Dial H for Hero, Miguel and an rival fight for the dial in the forms of Jobu, the Zonkey King and Iron Deadhead. These two heroes are references to two mangas, Akira Toriyama’s Goku from Dragon Ball and the cyborg protagonists of Masamune Shirow’s mangas like Ghost in the Shell, respectively. As the two heroes clash, so do the art styles, with Jobu’s simple colours and comedic tone contrasting with Iron Deadhead’s more serious, cyberpunk look drawn in black and white.

Dragonball. 3-in-1 edition. 1 / Toriyama, Akira

Ghost in the shell / Shirow, Masamune

 

 

 

Getting Vertigo

Vertigo (and its 2010s successor, Young Animal) was DC Comic’s imprint (a minor publishing line) for mature comics that gave their writers more creative freedom to reinterpret classic characters, including The Sandman, Doom Patrol, and Shade the Changing Man. While Vertigo is acclaimed for elevating comics into the realm of serious literature, these titles are also known to dip into ‘purple prose’ and extremely post-modern styles of narrative, which could alienate a more casual reader. This aspect gets a send-up in chapter 3 of Dial H for Hero in the form of the Bluebird of Happiness, a manic-pixie psychedelic superwoman resembling The Sandman‘s Delirium who warps the comic’s page structure around her.

The Sandman : endless nights / Gaiman, Neil

Shade, the changing girl. Vol. 1, Earth girl made easy / Castellucci, Cecil

 

 

Moebius Strip

To fight a bunch of out-of-control Justice League robots in issue 4, museum curator Snapper Carr transforms into Alien Ice Cream Man, a costumed space adventurer poking fun at the way French comic artist Moebius would draw his space-travelling characters with big pointy hats. Miguel, meanwhile, becomes Lil’ Miguelito, a fusion of various newspaper comic strip characters including Charlie Brown, Hagar the Horrible, and Nancy.

Inside Moebius. Part 1 / Moebius

Nancy likes Christmas / Bushmiller, Ernie

 

 

 

Fight like a (Tank) Girl

Main character Summer Picken’s go-to hero transformation is Lo-Lo Kick You, a live-wire ‘riot grrrl’ hero inspired by the art of Tank Girl creator (and Gorillaz artist) Jamie Hewlett and the pop art style of Mike Allred’s Madman. Summer’s adherence to only turning into one character throughout the series (whereas the dial normally changes you in random heroes) indicates her strong sense of self-identity. It’s befitting, then, that her transformation pays homage to two of the most visually distinct and idiosyncratic artists of the 1990s.

Tank Girl : the odyssey / Milligan, Peter

Madman. Volume 1 / Allred, Mike

 

 

 

Comic-ception

Issue 6 has a double-page spread that looks like a comic overlayed on top of another comic, allowing two narratives to play out simultaneously across the same page space. The ‘outer’ comic is a shot-for-shot remake of the storyboards for the Batman: The Animated Series opening by Bruce Timm, while the overlayed ‘inner’ comic detailing Miguel’s crisis is done in the style of black-and-white indie comics like Love and Rockets by the Hernandez brothers.

Heartbreak soup : a Love and rockets book / Hernandez, Gilbert

The Batman adventures : mad love / Dini, Paul

 

 

Hero Complex

In issue 6, the villain Mr. Thunderbolt gives everyone in the city of Metropolis a superhero identity and powers, with every individual character having their own art style riffing on another comic artist. Some of the allusions I was able to spot were: a character based on artist Frank Quitely’s ‘hyper-real’ art style, a few referencing early 60s Marvel comics by artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and characters based on the recent designs of Squirrel Girl by Erica Henderson and Silk by Stacey Lee.

L to R: All-Star Superman   Spider-Man meets the Marvel universe  The unbeatable Squirrel Girl  Silk

 

 

 

 

 

And that covers volume one! Stay tuned for Part Two, where we cover the homages in Dial H for Hero Volume Two.

Into the Void: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Christina O’Reilly

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to present a video piece from Christina O’Reilly author of Into the Void.

As her accent still shows Christina grew up in England and emigrated to NZ at the age of twelve.  As well as a writer, Christina is a freelance copy editor and proof reader and has had her short stories published in several anthologies.

Christina had written several previous novels   before being longlisted for the 2019 Michael Gifkins memorial prize which gave her the confidence to publish this novel.

Into the void introduces us to DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers. The plot revolves round the disappearance of rural banker Richard Harper his disappearance possess many questions is he really dead? or has he been abducted and tortured?   Eventually it all becomes a race against time as the case descends into a mire of murder, violence and obsession.

One review described the book in the following way    “O’Reilly’s characters are all strong, believable people with equally believable domestic lives and troubles. It’s nicely flavoured with New Zealandness without feeing contrived and carries a story which would work in any international setting”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Christina for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November… Enjoy.

Below are some of the books that influenced Christina and were mentioned in her interview.


The babes in the wood : a Chief Inspector Wexford mystery / Rendell, Ruth
“With floods threatening both the town of Kingsmarkham and his own home and no end to the rain in sight, Chief Inspector Wexford already has his hands full when he learns that two local teenagers have gone missing along with their sitter, Joanna Troy. Their hysterical mother is convinced that all three have drowned, and as the hours stretch into days Wexford suspects a case of kidnapping, perhaps connected with an unusual sect called the Church of the Good Gospel. But when the sitter’s smashed-up car is found at the bottom of a local quarry-occupied by a battered corpse-the investigation takes on a very different hue. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover End in Tears, Ruth Rendell (Audiobook)
“A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The driver behind is spared. But only for a while… It is impossible for Chief Inspector Wexford not to wonder how terrible it would be to discover that one of his daughters had been murdered. Sylvia has always been a cause for concern. Living alone with her two children, she is pregnant again.  The relationship between father and daughter has always been uneasy. But the current situation also provokes an emotional division between Wexford and his wife, Dora.  (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The secret garden / Burnett, Frances Hodgson
“Born in India, the unattractive and willful Mary Lennox has remained in the care of servants for as long as she can remember. But the girl’s life changes when her mother and father die and she travels to Yorkshire to live with her uncle. Dark, dreary Misselthwaite Manor seems full of mysteries, including a very special garden, locked tight for 10 years. With the help of Dickon, a local boy, Mary intends to uncover its secrets.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an Audiobook.

Into the void / O’Reilly, Christina
“How easy is it for a man to simply disappear? When rural banker Richard Harper is reported missing, DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers are drawn into the tangled details of the man’s life. Would Harper really have chosen to leave his seriously ill wife, and abandon his pregnant girlfriend? Or is there a real threat behind the abusive emails he’d been receiving from desperate clients in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis? Has he really been abducted, tortured or killed? Or is Richard Harper himself behind everything that has happened? Archie and Travers ultimately face a race against time. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here.

Southern Writers at Te Awe Brandon Library – Tuesday 20 Oct 2020


We are very excited to announce our first ever author event at our fabulous new Te Awe library.

______________________________
20 October 2020
Te Awe Library – 29 Brandon Street
12.30pm to 2pm
______________________________

And what a fitting event it is to inaugurate the Te Awe event space, with six fine poets and prose writers giving a very special lunch time reading. All hail from Dunedin or Southland.

They are:

Kay McKenzie Cooke, Richard Langston, Tim Jones, Nick Ascroft, Madison Hamill and Jenny Powell, with Mary McCallum reading some of the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr’s work.

So why not take this rare opportunity, grab your lunchtime sandwiches or buy one from the Te Awe café, and enliven your lunch listening to some of New Zealand’s finest poets reading from their works. Enjoy.



Kay McKenzie Cooke, her first poetry book, Feeding the Dogs received the Jessie MacKay Best First Book Award for Poetry. Kay is visiting Wellington and will be reading from her new collection Upturned / Cooke, Kay McKenzie

Richard Langston, poet and Country Calendar director, will be reading from his latest collection Five O’Clock Shadows / Langston, Richard


New Sea Land / Jones, Tim
Tim Jones is the winner of the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work and the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature. He will read from his poetry collection New Sea Land and his novella Where We Land.


Moral sloth / Ascroft, Nick
Nick Ascroft.  Born in Oamaru and awarded the Robert Burns Fellowship in 2003, Nick describes himself as an editor by trade, a linguist by training and a competitive Scrabble player by choice. He will be reading from Moral Sloth.

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
Debut author Madison Hamill’s writing has appeared in The Spinoff, Sweet Mammalian, The Pantograph Punch, and Turbine Kapohau.  She will be reading from her essay collection, Specimen.


South d poet lorikeet / Powell, Jenny
Jenny Powell is the current RAK Mason Fellow in the Wairarapa and has been a finalist for a number of poetry prizes including the Janet Frame Memorial Award. She will be  reading from her collection South D Poet Lorikeet.


Jenny Powell and Mary McCallum will read poems by the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr‘s collection Wanting to tell you everything. An award-winning Dunedin poet, Elizabeth died last year and her writing group (that included Jenny Powell and Mary as a consultant) got together to edit her first collection of poems.

This event has been organised by The Cuba Press, Wellington.

New Music at Te Awe

I’m Mark, the Customer Specialist for Music & Film at Wellington City Library. If you spent some time in the Sound & Vision section of the old Central Library you may remember seeing myself and my colleague Shinji, shifting shelves of CDs or DVDs around. We are now in charge of buying the CDs & Vinyl for the Library collection, so we thought we’d start a blog on some of the new and upcoming material we have been buying for the Music collection at our CBD Te Awe branch.
My colleague Neil & I decided to do a quick one line review of these titles to see if we actually know anything about them…

New CDs at Te Awe:
Green. / Yoshimura, Hiroshi
Neil: Regarded as a seminal Japanese 80s ambient album. A great companion piece to Midori Takada’s Through The Looking Glass.
Mark: Pitchfork approved noodling.

 

 

Absolute zero. / Hornsby, Bruce
Neil: After a long wait Hornsby explores some new avenues.
Mark: Jazz meets electronica (if you like that sort of thing). See what AllMusic says.

 

 

Giant steps. / Coltrane, John
Neil: Giant steps is rightly regarded as a masterpiece.
Mark: Deluxe reissue of an iconic album. Strange to think he made Kind of Blue at the same time. Total opposites in style.

 

 

An evening of New York songs and stories. / Vega, Suzanne
Neil: Polished performances of some of her greatest tracks recorded live in an intimate café setting.
Mark: Perhaps too polished.

 

 

 

Sun racket. / Throwing Muses
Neil: First album in 7 years. A welcome return to form of Kristin Hersh’s Alt-Rock icons.
Mark: I always liked her sisters bands better.

 

 

To bring you my love : demos. / Harvey, P. J.
Neil: Unvarnished raw recordings show the grit & sinew behind the more polished final album.
Mark: I prefer the final versions that made it to the album.

 

 

Angelheaded hipster : the songs of Marc Bolan & T. Rex : a Hal Willner production.
Neil: By the nature these are a bit hit & miss, shows how the originals were defined by Tony Viscotti’s T-Rex trademark production. Best track Children Of The Revolution – Kesha.
Mark: She Was Born To Be My Unicorn / Ride A White Swan – Maria McKee.

 

 

Ultra mono. / Idles
Neil: I love this album. #1 in the UK but it could have been released by The Stranglers in 1978.
Mark: Retromania.

 

 

American head / Flaming Lips
Neil: A less experimental album. More like Soft Bulletin than recent outings. Will make lots of Best of the Year lists.
Mark: I always liked Soft Bulletin when it came out.

 

 

 

Blues with friends. / Dion
Neil: A cool coffee shop album.
Mark: New songs (not old covers) played with famous friends.
 

 

 

Wrong way up / Eno, Brian
Neil: This Eno & Cale welcome rerelease has a backstory that is the stuff of legend.
Mark: Filed under Experimental not Popular so it doesn’t confuse the shelvers…

 

 

 

1969 to 1974. / Fleetwood Mac
Neil: When they were a real band. Before the Americans turned them into a stadium filling phenomenon
Mark: I didn’t realize they had made any albums before Stevie & Lindsey…
 

 

The Dusty Springfield anthology. / Springfield, Dusty
Neil: Yet another Dusty Springfield anthology
Mark: But its the best one, with the best sound quality. Out of print also. Allmusic review here.

 

 

Goats head soup / Rolling Stones
Neil: Yet another Rolling Stones re-release for fans. The only great RS album is Exile on Main Street.
Mark: Underrated/unappreciated entry in their catalogue, or another cynical cash in? Listen to it to find out.

 

 

Hard luck stories 1972-1982 / Thompson, Richard
Neil: The underrated Richard & Linda Thompson are given the comprehensive box set treatment.
Mark: 8 discs of all their studio albums with a fantastic hardbound book full of rare photos.

 

 

 

NWOBHM : thunder : new wave of British heavy metal 1978-1986.
Neil: The new wave of British Heavy Metal really shook up the genre that was dominated by Americans. This compilation includes some of its lesser known, but just as worthy, participants.
Mark: Cherry Red has cornered the market on these kind of obscure compilations.

 

Voices. / Richter, Max
Neil: One of my favorite classical albums is the 8 hour version of Sleep. Voices continues his remarkable output.
Mark: Universal Declaration of Human Rights put to music. Sure to aid in your sleep patterns.

 

 

 

Folklore. / Swift, Taylor
Neil: Pop songstress & social media juggernaut returns with another studio album for her fanbase.
Mark: A return to songwriting form, or lockdown musings ruined by the guy from the National? Listen to find out.

 

 

Chalk dogs / Johnstone, Neil
Neil: Willfully arty and experimental. Obviously a work of genius.
Mark: I listened to the first song & it made be feel anxious. Even the cover is scary. Listen to an exclusive video on our Wgtn Music YT channel if you dare.

 

 

On Order material:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and more….

The Four-Colour Final Frontier: Comics for World Space Week

Ever since 1929, when Buck Rogers left the written pulp magazines for the four-colour newspaper comic strip, comics have provided the perfect canvas for stories about space travel and other planets.

While the terror of little green men and mysterious alien jungles of the 50s and 60s eventually fell away due to Sputnik, Voyager, and the Mars rovers, writers and artists found new storytelling opportunities in the vastness of space in the modern day, whether they be conscious genre throwbacks like Mark Millar and Goran Parlov’s Flash Gordon pastiche Starlight, first contact political thrillers like Letter 44, or melancholic examinations of living on other worlds like Tom Gauld’s Mooncop.

And while Space Week may only last seven days, it’s always a good time to revisit the classic Tintin duology, Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon as well!


Destination moon / Hergé
“Destination Moon (1953) gives a detailed account on the preparation and the launching of the expedition to the Moon for which Professor Calculus has chosen Syladavian soil. Tintin and Captain Haddock are amazed to find that Professor Calculus is planning a top-secret project from the Sprodj Atomic Research Centre in Syldavia. And before our intrepid hero knows it, the next stop on this adventure is …Space.” (Catalogue)

Saga. Compendium one / Vaughan, Brian K
“Containing the first nine volumes of the acclaimed, New York Times-bestselling series, this compendium tells the entire story of a girl named Hazel and her star-crossed parents. Features gorgeous full-color artwork, including a new cover from Eisner-winning co-creator Staples. Collects #1-54.” (Catalogue)

Starlight : the return of Duke McQueen / Millar, Mark
“Forty years ago, Duke McQueen saved an alien world from destruction. Back on earth, nobody believed his story. Now his kids are grown, his wife has passed on, and life has little to offer. Until the day a strange boy from the world he once saved makes an appearance, coaxing Duke to join him on one last adventure. Can Duke handle the leap from has-been to hero? Collects Starlight #1-6.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Letter 44. Volume I, Escape velocity / Soule, Charles
“On Inauguration Day, newly elected President Stephen Blades hoped to tackle the most critical issues facing the nation: war, the economy, and a failing health care system. But in a letter penned by the outgoing President, Blades learns the truth that redefines “critical”: seven years ago, NASA discovered alien presence in the asteroid belt, and kept it a secret from the world. A stealth mission crewed by nine astronauts was sent to make contact, and they’re getting close-assuming they survive the long journey to reach their destination. Today, President-elect Blades has become the most powerful man on the planet. This planet.” (Catalogue)

Mooncop / Gauld, Tom
Living on the moon . . . Whatever were we thinking? . . . It seems so silly now.” The lunar colony is slowly winding down, like a small town circumvented by a new super highway. As our hero, the Mooncop, makes his daily rounds, his beat grows ever smaller, the population dwindles. A young girl runs away, a dog breaks off his leash, an automaton wanders off from the Museum of the Moon. Mooncop is equal parts funny and melancholy. capturing essential truths about humanity and making this a story of the past, present, and future, all in one.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The Manhattan Projects. 1 / Hickman, Jonathan
“What if the research and development department created to produce the first atomic bomb was a front for a series of other, more unusual, programs?” (Catalogue)

Girl from the Tree House : Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Gudrun Frerichs

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to have a video piece from Gudrun Frerichs author of Girl from the Tree House.

Gudrun has a fascinating personal backstory born on a small island near Hamburg she emigrated to New Zealand thirty years ago and worked until her retirement as a psychotherapist she is now a full time writer and describes herself as closet gypsy.

She says that her must have writing aids are a cup of Earl Grey a box of chocolates and the occasional glass of Merlot.

Gudrun’s previous novels include The Golden Girls Romantic Series of Contemporary Women’s novels. About four highly successful friends approaching their golden sixties who live in Auckland.  And the books  join  them as they navigate life’s obstacles.

Girl from the Tree House is a departure from her previous works and revolves around Elizabeth a woman with dissociative identity disorder, who is accused of murder. The novel is set in New Zealand’s West Coast is a fast paced psychological thriller that one reader described as a “superbly written story”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Gudrun for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November… Enjoy.

Below are some of the books that influenced Gudrun and were mentioned in her interview.


Pippi Longstocking / Lindgren, Astrid
“Pippi is the only girl in the world who can do exactly what she likes. She is nine years old and lives in a cottage with a horse and a monkey. Her friends Tommy and Annika have to go to school and go to bed when they’re told, but they still have time to join Pippi on all her great adventures.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The world’s best Karlson / Lindgren, Astrid
“Smidge is used to Karlson, the funny little man with a propeller on his back, living on the roof. They are firm friends. Now, anytime Karlson pops in, Smidge knows that there’s fun and adventure in store.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The ABC murders / Christie, Agatha
” There’s a serial killer on the loose. His  macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. But if A is for Alice Ascher, and B for Betty Bernard, then who will victim C be? Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans… Poirot is the man to find out.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Penhallow / Heyer, Georgette
“Hated for his cruel and vicious nature, ruling his family with an iron hand from his sickbed, tyrannical patriarch Adam Penhallow is found murdered the day before his birthday. His entire family had assembled for his birthday celebration, and every one of them had the ways and means to commit the crime. As accusation and suspicion turn in one direction, then another, the claws and backstabbing come out, and no one is exempt from the coming implosion. The death of menacing old man Adam Penhallow, on the eve of his birthday, seems at first to be by natural causes. When it emerges that he was poisoned, there are more than a dozen prime suspects.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.


Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here. You can visit Gudrun’s website by clicking here.

New DVDs at Te Awe

Here are some new movies & TV Shows recently added to our collection and available at our CBD Te Awe Library and selected Branch locations.

New Movies:
Photograph
“A struggling street photographer in Mumbai, pressured to marry by his grandmother, convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancée. The pair develop a connection that transforms them in ways they could not expect.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Why didn’t they ask Evans?
“During a round of golf on a cliff-top course in Wales, Bobby Jones discovers a man lying gravely injured on the rocks below. His last words, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?,” leads Bobby and his friend on a quest to find out what happened to the man.” (Catalogue)

 

 

A White, White Day
“The powerful new film by Hlynur Plmason centres on a grieving police officer in rural Iceland (Ingvar E. Sigursson) who turns his vengeful sights on a neighbour he suspects may have had an affair with his now-deceased wife.” (Catalogue)

 

 

New TV Shows:
Shakespeare & Hathaway : private investigators. Season one.
“Private inspector Frank Hathaway has always worked alone. But Frank isn’t doing so well. He’s out of shape and low on cash. Frank needs a partner. Frank needs ex-hairdresser and people-person Lu. He just doesn’t know it yet. The two eventually join forces and form a highly unlikely and hugely entertaining detecting duo. Frank and Lu quickly discover that all is not as peaceful as it seems in their pretty theatre town. The mayor is murdered, vengeful lovers stalk the streets and a magician’s trick fatally misfires. Welcome to Stratford-upon-Avon, where low life criminals get caught up in deliciously high drama.” (Catalogue)

Ray Donovan. Season seven.
“While Ray makes progress in therapy, there are dangers from the past that require the Ray Donovan of old. Between NYC mayor Ed Feratti, an unrelenting NYPD officer hunting for the truth and clients old and new, Ray struggles to find the balance between fixing for clients and fixing himself. And when Feratti’s corruption brings a piece of Mickey’s past back to New York, Ray is forced to seek answers to long-buried questions.” (Catalogue)

 

Occupied. Series 3.
“A new parliamentary election is due, and the campaign reignites old conflicts between the Norwegians. Seeing himself as the liberator of Norway, interim Prime Minister Jesper Berg is confident of winning the election. But the public is divided. Who are the real liberation heroes? How should traitors be treated? How will relations with Russia develop? And has Russia actually withdrawn from Norway? To complicate matters, Jesper is confronted by a group of young eco-scientists desperate to remind him of his original reason for entering into politics: His deep commitment to clean energy. Ambassador to Norway, Sidorova is torn between her wish to start a new life in Norway and her loyalty to Russia. Security Services Director Hans Martin Djupvik investigates the assassination of former Prime Minister Anita Rygh. And Bente takes her daughter to Moscow to escape the prosecution of traitors.” (Catalogue)

Homecoming. Season one.
“Good intentions. Erratic bosses. Mounting paranoia. Unforeseen consequences spiralling out of control. Heidi (Julia Roberts) works at Homecoming, a facility helping soldiers transition to civilian life. Years later she has started a new life, when the Department of Defense questions why she left Homecoming. Heidi soon realises there’s a whole other story behind the one she’s been telling herself.” (Catalogue)

 

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Season two.
“In the second season after tracking a potentially suspicious shipment of illegal arms in the Venezuelan jungle, CIA Officer Jack Ryan heads down to South America to investigate. As Jack’s investigation threatens to uncover a far-reaching conspiracy, the President of Venezuela launches a counter-attack that hits home for Jack, leading him and his fellow operatives on a global mission spanning the United States, UK, Russia, and Venezuela to unravel the President’s nefarious plot.” (Catalogue)

His dark materials. The complete first season.
“A young girl is destined to liberate her world from the grip of the Magisterium, which represses people’s ties to magic and their animal spirits known as daemons.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The boys. Season 1.
“The Boys is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes – as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as gods – abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. It is the powerless against the superpowerful as The Boys embark on a heroic quest to expose the truth about “The Seven” and their formidable Vought backing.” (Catalogue)

 

Belgravia. Season one.
“On the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, two young lovers forge a legacy that will create scandal for generations to come. Years later, when the humble Trenchards (Tamsin Greig and Philip Gleinster) move to Belgravia, they find themselves mixing with the venerated Brockenhursts (Harriet Walter and Tom Wilkinson). The families share a history that threatens inheritances and reputations and there are those who would do anything to ensure secrets remain buried. Pride and loyalty will be tested as forbidden love blossoms amongst the rivalry and lives hang in the balance.” (Catalogue)

Good girls. Season two.
“Good Girls Season 2 opens with Beth (Christina Hendricks) dealing with her failed plan to get Rio (Manny Montana) arrested, while evidence about their crimes end up on Agent Turner’s (James Lesure) desk. Throughout the season, Ruby (Retta) and Beth deal with the new status of their relationships with their husbands Stan (Reno Wilson) and Dean (Matthew Lillard), now aware of their secret criminal life; meanwhile, Annie (Mae Whitman) and her daughter have a hard time getting along. However, with the threat of a conviction looming over them, they can’t afford to make any mistakes with any of their activities.” (Catalogue)

Striking out. Complete series one & two.
“Tara Rafferty is a high-flying solicitor living an apparently charmed existence with her good-looking law-partner fiancé Eric. But when she discovers Eric is cheating on her with a colleague, she decides to go it alone and start her own law firm.” (Catalogue)

 

 

New Amsterdam. Season two
“Inspired by the oldest public hospital in America, this unique medical drama follows the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin, the institution’s newest medical director, who sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care. How can he help? Not taking “no” for an answer. Dr. Goodwin must disrupt the status quo and prove he will stop at nothing to breathe new life into this understaffed, underfunded, and underappreciated hospital.” (Catalogue)

Elementary. The final season
“Having lied and confessed to a murder he did not commit in order to protect Watson, Holmes moves back home to London in order to avoid jail time, so Watson follows.” (Catalogue)