Friday 19 September 2008

The Six Pack Three: Buy this book!

September is NZ Book Month, a celebration of all things literary in this great country of ours. This year I managed to get a copy of The Six Pack Three, the result of a short story competition which closed in late March this year. This year is the third year this competition has been held and the third year this book has been a best-seller. It's hardly surprising. This little book is, in my opinion, an absolute gem.

The six winning writers are:
Marisa Maepu, Sue Wootton, Aroha Harris, Ian McKenzie, David Geary and Kate Duigan, appearing in the book in this order.

Each of the stories adds a little more to the ever-growing collective voice of New Zealand, sharing insights into our society, our lives and our existences. From the childhood experiences of racial tensions in South Auckland in the late Eighties, to a brief biographical tribute to "Gary Manawatu", an "ideas man" to a psychological thriller in 'Mirror Mirror'.

So what kinds of issues are bubbling up through the NZ conscious, if we are to take this as a slice of the NZ conscious, that is. Recurrent themes of race, childhood disability and psychological issues pop up throughout the collection - the darker side of the sunny "clean, green" New Zealand existence, perhaps? Or as the judges write in their foreword, despite the "dark moments" in the collection, there are "beams of bright New Zealand sunlight". It depends which way you look at it I guess.

No matter what, though, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this book should be on the bookshelf of anyone who claims themselves to be a book-lover. It's a slice of New Zealand's literary history, a collection of damn good stories, a great read and only six bucks. There's no good reason not to buy it!

Related Links:
New Zealand Book Month
Author Information
Six Pack Success

Friday 12 September 2008

Taiwan revisited

When you think of Taiwan, it's likely that you think "Where?" or don't know much about it. Neither did I until I met my wonderful other half who has introduced me to this crazy island. Crazy? Yes, crazy. I love it to bits but it drives me mental sometimes! It's a bundle of contradictions, a maze of scooters, horns and sirens as well as having place of extreme tranquility. The whole point of this post is to put up a few pictures from my trip for people to get an idea of what Taiwan is really like... from the inside.