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The totem hole by Paul Shannon
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The totem hole

by Paul Shannon

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@8 (1) @f (1) fiction (1) New Zealand (1)

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I have been struggling with 'The Totem Hole' by Kiwi author Paul Shannon. His 1st novel 'Davey Darling' was short listed in the Commonwealth writers' best 1st novel section of their competition so Penguin snaffled him. He's going to be a great NZ novelist obviously.

I have given up trying to read such a depressing and miserable story. Threw the book out.

I know Kiwis are going to scream in horror and tell me I'm a bad Kiwi not to support our writers but
BUT
BUT...
please why do we have to have this...?

'Set in the raw hinterlands of Wanganui and the corrupted paradise of the Pacific...'
AND
rich and powerful...explores finding honour while navigating the complex ways of love...'

I am sick and tired of this stupid belief that to have NZ literature taken seriously we must present a 'deep dark underbelly' of nastiness.

The main characters in the novel -two dull young men - have wasted their lives. (my opinion). They work on the family farm and their recreation is then drinking themselves senseless and trying all sorts of drugs at the weekends. They never have the gumption to take up or seek out opportunities which life always offers.

Boring, dull and joyless characters with no redeeming features.
The book could have been lightened with humour but oh no! We must make the great Kiwi statements which are deep and meaningful nothings.

The morning of the wedding the two brothers are duck shooting and Jesse pots an albatross. This is meant to be very symbolic as we get the bird's thoughts every so often. But what honour is there in what happens to the bird? And where is the love? Lust, yes but not love. Aaron’s claim to love is really lust.

Dour, bleak, grim and so typical of so much of the NZ literature which is published and vaunted as a great Kiwi read.
  p.d.r.lindsay | Aug 24, 2014 |
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Jesse and Aaron are brothers in their twenties, living on the family farm. It's not remote back-blocks, but it's still heartland rural. Jesse is a troubled, difficult, sometimes violent lad, always messing up and embarrassing his parents. Aaron's more sensible. He's marrying Carly in the local church, and they're planning their honeymoon in Fiji. One day out duck shooting the boys accidentally bring down an albatross. It's badly wounded, and the dilemma of what to do with the injured bird - and the consequences - becomes the central feature of the novel. As the reader we know all about The Ancient Mariner and the sailors' curse, but the boys don't seem to and it's never referred to.… (more)

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