A selection of short reviews.
One for cat lovers
A collection of almost 50 stories by people who have adopted
cats, Feline Friends, Tales From the Heart (Exisle
Publishing) highlights the work of the Cat Protection Society
of New South Wales. The society, an independent charity based
in Sydney, has been caring for cats since 1958.
From tiny orphaned kittens to cats abandoned to life on the
streets, thousands of felines have been saved by the
The stories in the book have been written by people who took
in the cats. One of the most cheering is told by a woman who
was suffering severe depression. She took two ginger cats
that might otherwise have been destroyed: they gave her a
reason to get up in the morning and eventually turn her life
Illustrated with attractive photographs and printed on
quality paper, Feline Friends is not a book to read in a
sitting, but one for cat lovers to dip into at odd moments.
- Gillian Vine
Poetry full of shock and drama
A Man Runs Into A Woman (Hue and Cry Press, pbk) is
Wellington poet Sarah Jane Barnett's debut collection of
This is an honest, zealous and dark little book. Barnett
looks closely at people in a series of poetic vignettes.
Part of this book gathers a series of nine distinctive poems
exploring the gap between heartfelt last words of Texas death
row inmates, and the grim police reports of their crimes:
... At first the women are white,
but at the climax they run crimson,
and shreds of other colours.
They are halved tangelos.
She crawls towards the
neighbour's tool shed, her arms
parting like strings of spit.
Her sister scratches his muzzle,
on the stairs, please dear god
He takes the long way back.
A Man Runs Into A Woman is stunning, stormy, snappy
and accessible without hiding anything from the imagination.
If you like your poetry full of shock, drama and statements,
rather than soft whispery bits, this is the one for you.
- Hamesh Wyatt
NZ thriller perturbing
New Zealand author Paul Cleave is described as a "crime
writing sensation" on the cover of his sixth thriller novel
The Laughterhouse (Penguin.)
Whether readers find reading his stories a good sensation or
a bad one is problematic. His books leave me uncomfortable,
and the title of this one is derived from deliberately
leaving the S off the front of the second word.
Theodore Tate is again his detective hero cum tough guy and
the setting once again is Christchurch, but not entirely as
we know it. The earthquakes are not mentioned, but the city
is certainly being rebuilt; and it seems to be portrayed as
full of villains and prostitutes, and the roads almost
certainly ruled by boy-racer gangs.
The police are shown in the worst possible light right at the
start of this serial killer mystery and there are buckets of
blood and horrors for those who like such goings-on.
Kidnapping children, as well as adults, and asking a father
to choose which of his three children should be killed first
is indeed gruesome.
This story should really have been set in some bigger
metropolis overseas, where murders are more frequent. And the
staccato construction of many present-tense sentences, such
as "I stepped over the blood" rather nagged me after a while.
- Geoff Adams