Today’s Bubble Burst Book List comes courtesy of Poet Laureate David Eggleton.
David Eggleton is a past recipient of a Janet Frame Literary Trust Award, an Ockham New Zealand Book Award, and the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry. His two most recent poetry publications are SNAP, a limited-edition collaboration with artist Nigel Brown and printer John Holmes for the Otakou Press, and Edgeland and other poems, published by Otago University Press in 2018. An arts critic and a book reviewer, he is the current New Zealand Poet Laureate.
Time hangs heavy in these perforce largely sedentary times, sequestered in an iso-bubble, and one reads in marathon bouts, able to tackle at last the monumental novels on the teetering coffee table stack, from Richard Powers’ The Overstory (Vintage), an eco-warrior narrative, to Neal Stephenson’s weird mega-riffs on bio-technology and myth in Fall or, Dodge in Hell (HarperCollins). But eventually one longs for something new to read smacking of the local, and to this end I can barely wait to be able to go back into an actual bookstore and browse, skimming my eye across the neatly assembled new releases and dipping in and out of promising titles before making some hard choices.
To this end, Dunedin’s University Book Shop is ideal for my typically dilatory and roundabout approach to catching up on New Zealand books that have been out for a few months and that I was slowly but steadily making my way towards.
For me these books include Peter Simpson’s Is This the Promised Land? (Auckland University Press), Volume Two of his thorough-going study of Colin McCahon, which I am eager to place alongside my copy of the first volume Colin McCahon: There Is Only One Direction 1917 -1959, purchased from University Book Shop last year.
Also still catching up with last year, I want to get hold of Gregory O’Brien’s Always Song in the Water (Auckland University Press), a sequence of essayistic journeys and discoveries in the form of an oceanic epic, which is partly his account of personal consciousness-raising about where exactly we are at this moment in time in the South Pacific, and the unmooring of the great waka of Aotearoa and its launching out into the wider Moana.
I am also keen to read the second volume of Witi Ihimaera’s memoir Native Son (Penguin Books). While its title echoes that of Richard Wright’s classic Native Son, a harrowing novel of deterministic black oppression in Depression-era Chicago, it is a story which I hope will help illuminate the state of race relations in New Zealand in the middle years of the twentieth century.
A newish collection of poetry that I would like to track down as soon as the lockdown lifts or permits is Jenny Bornholdt’s Lost and Somewhere Else (Victoria University Press), Which I gather is mostly explorations and epiphanies through the landscape and seasons of Central Otago, seen with fresh eyes when the Wellington-based writer was living in Alexandra for a year.