'Fish of New Zealand'
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15654
‘Get off the road you lycra-clad cunt!’ A bond is formed with a foul-mouthed kahawai hitchhiking along Surf Highway 45. A penis-riddled espionage colours a Catholic School’s swimming sports. A group of children trek down the coast on the hunt for a washed-up whale carcass. A boat-stand attendant fetishizes a neon-lit performance artist. A Toyota Corolla cruises through Hamilton fog on its way to pick up the morning-after pill. Two feuding sisters take turns on a young boy’s lizard. Fish of New Zealand is a collection of short stories, constructed in shifting points of view and various formats — flash, stream-of-consciousness, instructional landscaping tips, medication fine print, email chains, and euthanasia consent forms. The collection plays out like a series of kiwiana vignettes, focusing and honing in on the unique experience of growing up in Aotearoa. The landscapes are familiar, the characters recognizable, and the tone of voice is matter-of-fact kiwi. Although presented as a work of fiction, most of the stories here actually took place in some shape or form — as hard as that may be to believe. They have been plucked from my childhood, teenage experiences, and glimpses into the adult world, and molded into a literary mountain range. Fish of New Zealand traverses the strange, the wry, and the grotesque, in a story collection that reads like a black sand fever dream. The stories in this collection are at once instantly recognizable, and yet entirely foreign. Picture the driver, cruising around the coast, who spots a kahawai without luggage and his flipper in the air. Or the disillusioned accountant in a board meeting, who floats up in a cloud of nicotine and hovers over the conference room table. The collection praises the kiwi utopia of friendly geckos and Weet-Bix cards, fresh-aired bush walks and ocean-side pōhutukawas — but doesn’t shy away from the violence hidden within its roots. At its core, Fish of New Zealand is a personal account of growing up in Aotearoa, although I hope the reader sees themselves somewhere within this collection. It shows what it means to be a New Zealander; the lives we lead and the relationships we form. How we are shaped by the place we grow up in.
The University of Waikato
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