Fiona Farrell

Teoksen Book Book tekijä

21+ teosta 221 jäsentä 14 arvostelua

Tietoja tekijästä

Fiona Farrell was born in 1947 in New Zealand. She is a poet, fiction writer and playwright. Her novels include: The Skinny Louie Book, Mr Allbones' Ferrets, and Limestone. Her poetry titles include: Cutting Out, The Inhabited Initial, and The Pop-Up Book of Invasions. In 2015 her book, Villa at näytä lisää the Edge of the Empire made The New Zealand Best Seller List. (Bowker Author Biography) näytä vähemmän


Tekijän teokset

Book Book (2004) 50 kappaletta
Mr. Allbones' Ferrets (2007) 26 kappaletta, 6 arvostelua
The Broken Book (2011) 17 kappaletta, 2 arvostelua
Limestone (2009) 15 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu
The Hopeful Traveller (2002) 14 kappaletta
Decline and fall on Savage Street (2017) 14 kappaletta, 2 arvostelua
The Pop-up Book of Invasions (2007) 12 kappaletta
The Deck (2023) 10 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu
The Skinny Louie Book (1992) 10 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu
The Deck (2023) 4 kappaletta
Cutting out (1987) 2 kappaletta
The Inhabited Initial (1999) 2 kappaletta
The Quake Year (2012) 2 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu
Light Readings: Stories (2001) 2 kappaletta
Paradise Ducks 1 kappale
the ninth year 1 kappale

Associated Works

Some Other Country: New Zealand's Best Short Stories (1984) — Avustaja — 72 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu
Christchurch : the city in literature (2003) — Avustaja — 7 kappaletta
New Zealand Love Stories: An Oxford Anthology (2000) — Avustaja — 7 kappaletta
Nearly Seventeen (1993) — Avustaja — 6 kappaletta
Yellow pencils : contemporary poetry by New Zealand women (1988) — Avustaja — 5 kappaletta
Spirit of the South (2014) — Avustaja — 2 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla




This was not what I had expected. I learnt some interesting information about various European walks and a little more about the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes. I had expected more on this theme given the title.
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HelenBaker | 1 muu arvostelu | Jun 13, 2024 |
Fiona Farrell ONZM is a New Zealand novelist, poet and playwright, and she writes non-fiction too, notably about the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. I discovered her writing last year when I read (and reviewed) The Deck (2023), and promptly ordered Decline and Fall on Savage Street and (mistakenly thinking it was a novel) its companion NF title The Villa at the Edge of the Empire (2015). From her website, I learned the origins of these two books:
In 2013, Farrell received Creative New Zealand's premier award, the Michael King Fellowship, to write twin volumes, one fiction, one non-fiction, prompted by the Christchurch earthquakes and the reconstruction of the city. The Villa at the Edge of the Empire, was shortlisted for the non-fiction section in the 2016 Ockham NZ Book Awards while its fictional twin, Decline and Fall on Savage Street was published to critical acclaim in 2017 and received that year's NZSA Heritage Book Award for fiction. Together, the books have been described as ‘a wonderful piece of art.’

Decline and Fall on Savage Street is certainly absorbing reading, though it is not until Part Two that the Christchurch earthquake makes its deadly appearance. The preceding 200-odd pages compress to cover the story of a house, beginning in 1906.
Farrell has a gift for description with occasional sly wit, as you can see in Chapter 2: The Floor Plan, Spring 1908:
A villa. Not too large. Not one of the twenty-seven roomed fantasies that introduce his magnum opus: his catalogue of One Hundred Designs for New Zealand Residences. Not the two-storyed extravagance of Smoking Room, Billiard Room, Fernery and the rest, but something more modest: ten rooms, perhaps. A substantial villa for the man who is on his way, and for his dependants. A villa combining tradition with modernity, the best of the past with contemporary comfort, for that is the style for this country, where public buildings favour imperial gravitas with columns and Roman porticoes, along with ample windows and modern plumbing.

And when they leave the public realm, the citizens whom luck and industry have favoured like to stroll home to one or two storeys of vaguely Gothic timber and gabling, or perhaps Georgian brick, with bathroom and kitchen in the contemporary American manner, ideally linked to the modern marvels of metropolitan sewerage systems, gas and electricity, all set behind the fences of a pleasantly private quarter-acre. A house like this, for example: the ten-roomed villa, taking shape beneath the architect's busy pen. (p.11)

The first family to live in this villa is a large one and Farrell traces a patchwork of events in their lives, in chapters that move biennially through most of the century, interleaved with the endless life-cycle of eels in the river. Each chapter begins and end mid-sentence, and people come and go, leaving behind only traces of their activity in the house and garden. When the last of that family is gone in the 70s, the house is found by Min, a bit of a flower-child who is looking for a share-house. The villa has seen better days:
Midwinter, damp and grey, the river a ribbon of low-hanging fog. And there it was, half-buried beneath periwinkle, its walls dimpled with damp rot under a cloak of ivy. A leafless vine entangled the front porch, ornamented with the fluffy seed heads of old man's beard and fallen leaf lay knee-deep on the path between overhanging branches and the whole place reeked of damp and decay, cat pee and desolation.


Min stood in the overgrown garden, jeans soaked to the knees. She'd regret that later: flares took absolutely ages to dry. Beneath her sodden boots lay bricks and broken glass. Beer bottles littered the porch, and someone had set a fire at the foot of the steps where a half-burned wire wove rusted over charred wood and a shabby sofa and armchairs slumped either side in a parody of three-piece gentility. (p.127)

Min persuades her friends to buy it together. They made an offer, all chipping in as much as they could:

To read the rest of my review please visit
… (lisätietoja)
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anzlitlovers | 1 muu arvostelu | Apr 13, 2024 |
I am indebted to Karen McMillan from the NZ Review of Books for my discovery of a new favourite author.

The NZ Review is not a blog, so though you can subscribe to a monthly newsletter you can't subscribe to receive new reviews by email the moment that they are published. And the newsletter, of course, covers all sorts of NZ publishing besides what I'm interested in, which is just reviews of NZ novels. After a friendly exchange about this, Karen undertook to send me a list of the new reviews, and in May I spied The Deck. With a tagline "A New Zealand Decameron for the Covid era."

Now I swore I was not going to read any pandemic fiction at all, because (don't be surprised) I was sick of the pandemic, and very sick of people complaining about it. But... the Decameron?

This is the blurb:
What is the point of inventing stories when reality eclipses imagination?

A little way off in the future, during a time of plague and profound social collapse, a group of friends escape to a house in the country where they entertain themselves by playing music, eating, drinking and telling stories about their lives. There are tales of thieves and pirates, deaths and a surprise birth, a freak wave and many other stories of misadventure resulting in unexpected felicity.

The Deck borrows the motifs of Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th-century masterpiece, The Decameron, in which another small group gathered to avoid contagion and passed the time telling stories. But what is the role of fiction, this novel asks, as civilisation falters?

Miracle of miracles, my library actually had it in stock!

The novel operates at many levels, but in the third person, it begins with The Frame : it introduces the novelist, working on her Apple Mac, in Midsummer in a small city on an island in the southern corner of a vast ocean.
Sunlight glints on a harbour and a breeze bellies the curtains at an open window. An undifferentiated hum of traffic and machinery rises from the city. Someone is drilling something in the old Edwardian villa next door and across the road the children at the day-care centre are banging away on the xylophone they bring outside on sunny days. Overlying the hum is a cheerful gamelan bing bang bong.

Beyond the harbour stretches the ocean, bordered as usual at the horizon by the mass of cloud that could be hills or snow-capped mountains. Air and vapour only but so seemingly solid that Captain Cook, sailing down this coast on his first voyage, detoured many miles to the east over three days in order to satisfy his lieutenant that this was no great continent. 'In search of Mr Gore's imaginary land,' he wrote grumpily in his journal. He himself was 'very certain we saw only clouds'.

The imaginary land has always been present. (p.12-13)

I was hooked. From the moment a breeze bellies a curtain to the anecdote about Cook, I knew I was in the hands of an author I wanted to read.

To read the rest of my review please visit
… (lisätietoja)
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anzlitlovers | Jun 4, 2023 |
Fiona Farrell interviewed people living in and around Christchurch in the year or so after the earthquakes. She shares their stories along with photos of them, their gardens, the broken world around them. I took my time with this, partly because it felt right to take time with each person's story, but also because it ended up being a much more emotional read than I expected. I didn't experience the earthquakes, although I've been in many small ones, so I didn't expect to be so affected. I think perhaps knowing people who did experience them, and having been to Christchurch and seen some of the empty neighborhoods and ruined old buildings, the memorials to those who lost their lives, helped make it much more real for me. It's a lovely book, very thoughtfully done, and a really good way to understand a little better what it's like for people who've survived something like that.… (lisätietoja)
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nittnut | Sep 1, 2018 |


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