Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature by Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature

The Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature Collection

Reviews of select reads for the season from our City of Literature collection

The SETSVictor Billot
The official blurb states ‘In love with language, entangled in the world, Victor Billot’s poetry draws on postpunk music and spoken word performance to create a panoramic extravaganza firing on all cylinders.’ Part political and social satire with a good dollop of rumination on the domestic world and the fragility of the family and personal relationships, there is plenty to reflect on here.

Not to be read all at once, but rather returned to and savoured, full of dry wit, fake news, viruses, end of the world scenarios! Commentary on the absurdities of things that happen to us, there are plenty of digs at this devolution. The sea features prominently; how intertwined we are with it and the brutal force of nature it can be. The account of Vo Minh Que, Korean fisherman, swept overboard 70 kilometres south of Rakiura in 2004 is particularly moving.

Surf Dreams New Zealand Surf Culture. Derek Morrison
A look at heartland surfing communities of New Zealand - the characters, the breaks, the dream lifestyles. Wonderful photographs taken by Derek Morrison, give a glimpse into the wondrous and varied coastline we are fortunate in Aotearoa to be surrounded by.

An avid surfer himself, Derek gets the inside history and knowledge from a who’s who of NZ’s surfing fraternity and this book provides read insight into the dedication, determination and perseverance required for that small window of opportunity to ride the perfect wave. Together with insights into the time-intensive craft of producing the perfect board, learning just how deep the industry goes and what a labour of love it is for those characters who are living the dream.

Dunedin’s beaches feature (of course) and the writer points out some of the key differences surfers experience by immersing themselves in our waters. 

“There is seldom a day where a surfer cannot find a truly world-class wave. But there is a price: the water temperature oscillates between 8 degrees C in the depths of winter and 16 degrees C in a good summer.
And then there is a rich variety of wildlife that Dunedin offers: endangered yellow-eyed penguins, Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, a passing leopard seal, many species of shark and the ultra-curious and nationally vulnerable Hooker’s sea lion.
To surf in Dunedin is to be immersed in nature at its rawest … and its finest.” 

A stunning book filled with adventure and drama, and gloriously shot to lure the reader in. Great book!

Okay, Boomer New Zealand in the Swinging Sixties. Ian Chapman
A social history book with a difference, capturing the author’s and other people’s emotional connections with the decade. New Zealand experienced rapid changes in the 1960’s and it is wonderful to be able to reconnect with many of them through photographs and personal recollections from people across all walks of life. 

“Let nostalgia flow, warts and all. Welcome back to the decade that made us. Stick on your favourite LP, or assemble a stack of 45s by your turntable, and let’s go for it … C’mon!”

Remembering things not remembered in a while like Real Fur, Sherry in a Flagon, Shrimp Cocktails, The Murder House, Paper Dresses, The Monkees, School Milk, Daleks, Hippies, Protest, Peace, Love: there is a lot of reader fun to be experienced here. Ian Chapman deftly segments the book into categories, offering his lovely and relatable memories on the theme. Add to this quality reminiscences by many well-known identities, great poetry and together with great photographs, this all makes for a fabulous trip down memory lane. Definitely put a smile on my face!

For younger readers this book offers a glimpse into how many aspects of our modern lives were shaped by the radical changes witnessed in this decade. Beautifully-produced and fun, fun, fun!

‘Yeah, yeah, yeah…’

Getting Closer, Rediscovering Nature Through Bird Photography. Paul Sorrell
Using birds as his focus, photographer and Dunedin author Paul Sorrell offers simple yet practical tips and tricks for engaging and photographing the natural world around us. Supplemented by his stunning photography this is a book that will appeal to many birders and nature lovers.

It must take great patience and determination to wait for the perfect subject to land just where you want, and Paul offers lots of advice, and shares many of his experiences culminating in capturing this large portfolio of exquisite bird photos showcased throughout the book.

Chapters include topics: What’s the right camera for me?; Ethics in the field; Colour and texture; Making yourself inconspicuous; Playing with light; Close-up or far away; Keeping safe (there are a lot more). Providing more than a comprehensive guide for anyone with a penchant for birds or wildlife photography, there is also a strong focus on being familiar and at one with the outdoors, be it in the home garden or wider afield.

Following on from Paul’s previous publications, Fleur’s Place (2008), Trail: Riding the Central Otago Rail Trail (2011) and Peninsula: Exploring the Otago Peninsula (2013), this addition to his portfolio of quality reads together with his stunning photography is sure to be popular.