The review doubles as an article about anthologies, anthologising, and the social dynamics of our literary culture. It also covers warm butter, footballers sans shorts, and the scales in the Countdown fruit and veg department. Talk about wide-ranging. Talk about well-written.
It is too subtle a piece to summarise but I recommend it to anyone interested in this book or the New Zealand literary scene in general. It’s also amusing. Quote unquote on the literary elite:
Not all members are writers: publishers, reviewers, critics, friends, relatives and persons of no great judgement who have nevertheless managed to acquire an air of cultural authority all play their part.
We can all think of examples of the persons of no great judgement. I instantly thought of two septuagenarians, who would have instantly thought of me.
Like most other reviewers Chris lists authors not included whom readers may feel had a claim: he suggests that they were not considered but I think it more likely that they were considered then rejected for whatever reason. All reviewers have offered their own lists but they largely overlap (I seem to be the only one rooting for Dick Scott, which baffles me). What struck me considering Chris’s list was something I was vaguely aware of but the thought had not come into focus until now.
The book has a shocking anti-Yorkshire bias. The subtext is that the only good Yorkshireman is a dead Yorkshireman. Captain Cook is in, but living Yorkshire-born NZ authors Peter Bland, Russell Haley, Philip Temple and Chris Else himself are all out. Perhaps the editors are Lancastrian. I think we should be told.
This will probably be the last in this series on the anthology. I’m moving on to other things, not hanging about here waiting for the NZ Woman’s Weekly review.
UPDATEThis gets worse. A reader advises that another Yorkshire-born author with a claim was excluded: Phillip Mann. That’s five out of five. Coincidence? You be the judge.