Grand – book review

Grand, becoming my mother’s daughter by Noelle McCarthy

Memoirs are so deeply personal they make me terrified. I can’t imagine ever wanting to write one. Now I know so much about Noelle McCarthy she’s no longer just that engaging, Irish voice on the radio. We’re so much closer than that. Things got personal very fast. I feel I’ve seen her naked. Why do people do this?

Saying that, it’s terrific for a reader. Who doesn’t want to wander through someone else’s thoughts for a while? Especially someone this smart and interesting. We can access their memories, become a voyeur of their lives. Judge them. A memoir is very different to a story (fact or fiction) told about someone else; psychologically a totally different thing. Noelle (usually I refer to an author by surname, but we’re intimates) tells us how she sees herself, with access to all that interior landscape. OK, so the book is ostensibly about her mother, but it’s about her. Noelle McCarthy. What a great woman.

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A Fish in the Swim of the World – book review

A Fish in the Swim of the World, by Ben Brown

Ben Brown (Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Korokī, Ngāti Paoa) is a story teller. His stories are philosophical and luminous and funny and intellectual and they plunge from one mood to the other without missing a beat. I spent a week in a van driving around Taranaki with him recently and our conversations changed me, though it’s hard to say exactly how.

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