Straitjacket Fits frontman's memoir a book award finalist

Legendary South Island musician Shayne Carter’s autobiography has been announced as a finalist in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Carter’s memoir Dead People I Have Known is in the general non-fiction category.

The former frontman of Straitjacket Fits and Dimmer has received his fair share of accolades in the music world but the literary nod was a first.

‘‘In some ways I kind of have a natural suspicion of awards.

‘‘Art’s ... very much a subjective experience, so saying this is better than that — it’s all in the eye or ear of the beholder,’’ Carter said.

‘‘At the same time, I’m really stoked.’’

He said he was surprised by the book being included among other more academic texts in the category.

‘‘I thought it might be a bit punk rock, a bit rough around the edges, particularly with the more scurrilous parts of the book.’’

When asked about his chances of winning, he was reluctant to look too far ahead.

The arduous process of penning the memoir had given him a huge respect for writers, Carter said.

As with music, it was far from the romantic notion people might have of the creative arts, Carter said.

‘‘It’s graft and it’s work.’’

However, it had not put him off more writing.

Carter had enjoyed pursuing the ‘‘creative tangent’’ and might turn his hand to fiction in future, he said.

Winners will be announced on May 12 during the Auckland Writers Festival.

Finalists are. —


Aue, Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press).

Pearly Gates, Owen Marshall (Vintage, Penguin Random House).

A Mistake, Carl Shuker (Victoria University Press).

Halibut on the Moon, David Vann (Text Publishing).


Moth Hour, Anne Kennedy (Auckland University Press).

How to Live, Helen Rickerby (Auckland University Press).

Lay Studies, Steven Toussaint (Victoria University Press)

How I Get Ready, Ashleigh Young (Victoria University Press).

Illustrated non-fiction

Crafting Aotearoa: A Cultural History of Making in New Zealand and the Wider Moana Oceania, edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa U Mahina-Tuai, Damian Skinner (Te Papa Press).

Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of Resistance, Persistence and Defiance, edited by Stephanie Gibson, Matariki Williams, Puawai Cairns (Te Papa Press).

We Are Here: An Atlas of Aotearoa, Chris McDowall and Tim Denee (Massey University Press).

McCahon Country, Justin Paton (Penguin Random House).

General non-fiction

Dead People I Have Known, Shayne Carter (Victoria University Press).

Shirley Smith: An Examined Life, Sarah Gaitanos (Victoria University Press).

Wild Honey: Reading New Zealand Women’s Poetry, Paula Green (Massey University Press).

Towards the Mountain: A Story of Grief and Hope Forty Years on from Erebus, Sarah Myles (Allen & Unwin).

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