Monday, 4 June 2012

Road Markings makes its mark

New Zealand Books is a quarterly magazine devoted entirely to the review of NZ work by fellow writers. For those reviewed it's not usually a comfortable read but considered critique is the magazine's raison d'être. The Winter 2012 edition opens with its editorial: "Two issues beyond the 20th anniversary edition of New Zealand Books and two before our 100th issue, we've reached another milestone. The determined enthusiasts who founded the journal might well have predicted the first two … But we suspect they would have had no inkling of the third: this issue carries our first review of an ebook.   … the word 'book' in New Zealand Books has changed its meaning forever."

That ground-breaking ebook is Michael Jackson's Road Markings, published here at Rosa Mira Books. (Thanks to NZ Books editors, Jane Westaway and Harry Ricketts, for making the leap.) The opening review, it's a generous page and a half of the A3 format by reviewer Alison Gray.  Rather more an outline of content, however, than an appraisal, it's not an easy review to pick excerpts from, but here are a couple:

"Michael Jackson … uses a 2008 road trip … to explore the theme of 'firstness' both in his own life and in the lives of people affected by social and historical events such as adoption, emigration, colonisation, war and illness or death. … It's a grand undertaking …

"The strongest pieces in this book describe how individual people have handled the blows life has dealt them, but the concept of 'firstness' remains elusive. Some people … reshuffle elements of the past to create a workable sense of self; some, like the wonderful Aunt Simone amd Mlle Picard in Menton, struggle not to be overcome by what has happened; some … simply decide to leave the past behind and make a new start, while others, like Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, seem able to recover from loss without 'acrimony, blame or the need for redemption'."

Road Markings is "full of good thinking and ideas about how people construct their lives. I eventually read it twice and was well rewarded both times."

Also in this edition, Chris Else comments on his experience with the Kindle reader.

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