We all have our own idea of the meaning of ‘Place’, whether it is our house, or home town – or even a page in a book, or seat in the theatre. Victoria University Press has published this collection of seventeen essays, all of which offer glimpses into where we are now in New Zealand in the 21st Century.
This collection of personal essays, a first of its kind, re-imagines the idea of place for an emerging generation of readers and writers.
It was while the editors were on a road trip, and stopped for a break at Paekakariki that the idea for the book began. As the book states, “The writers are interested in the obsession, fascination, wonder and often intense unease experienced in relation to particular spots in this country. They are interested in how lives are actually lived in very specific places and how these lives – and places – have changed over time.”
The collection is divided into three parts. The first, ‘Any Place might be extraordinary if only we knew it’, focuses on a single location. In the second section, ‘You take place with you as you go on’, we read stories of mobility and the reasons why people migrate to different areas in the country. And the third section, ‘The meshing of thought and world’, wrestles with how global issues and modern technology influence place.
“In the final essay Tim Corballis seeks to negotiate how we might live in the complexity of new places, suggesting that we need to hold on to at least two perspectives: a local individual view…. ,: but also a larger perspective, one that might include an image of the whole Earth, for example, and imaging of place adequate to confront climate change.”
As well as editors Ingrid Horrocks and Cherie Lacey, contributors include Tony Ballantyne, Martin Edmond, Tina Makereti, Giovanni Tiso, Ian Wedde, Ashleigh Young, and more.
Jo Bailey and Anna Brown have designed an intriguing dust cover for this paperback book which deserves to be studied as it adds a visual dimension to the publication.
Extraordinary Anywhere needs to be devoured slowly as the essays are all vastly different in style and content, reflecting the diversity of our place, Aotearoa-New Zealand and the World. There is something in this book for everyone, and I particularly enjoyed the essays about places I was familiar.
Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh
Extraordinary Anywhere- Essays on Place from Aotearoa New Zealand
Edited by Ingrid Horrocks and Cherie Lacey
Published by VUP