Clearing of the Mist is the third part of Clough’s Whispers of the Past trilogy. In the first part, best mates Bob, Shane, and Sam, get transported from 2014 to 1863 when they wander into a mist during a DOC pig-culling trip in Tongariro National Park. In the second part, Shadows of the Mind, Bob, who has returned to ‘now’, and who has received a message from Shane that he is happily married in late 19th Century Aotearoa, starts to research what has happened to Sam. In this final instalment, we mainly follow Sam’s story from his own point of view, and in the process get an overview of a time when “The British Empire was at the height of its power … and had its nose in a lot of countries.”
“When you lived in the city it was strange to think that underneath you, under the immense stretch of hard tarseal and grey concrete, there lay dirt and rocks, vast networks of roots, indestructible creatures and ancient worms, and far below them plates that collided over oceans of magma.” Three damaged people stagger around an Auckland that is dark, wet, polluted, each haunted by a past tragedy and unable to find a way forward.
The Trojan War: we all know the stories of the valiant and tortured men of The Iliad, but only remember the women as weeping at home, begging their men not to go to war, being the ones causing all the trouble, or being interfering goddesses. But Pat Barker has imagined the Trojan War from a woman’s point of view: Briseis, enslaved when a Trojan town was sacked, given to Achilles as a trophy, seized by Agamemnon, and realising that she is no longer a person, she is a thing.
An extraordinary debut novel that explores statutory rape from the point of view of a young girl at the time of the offense, and then through the next almost 20 years to the #MeToo movement. The 15-year-old girl, Vanessa Wye, remains loyal to her teacher and abuser, Jacob Strane, but her unreliable narrative is a heart-breaking read.
What a gift, to be able to write something that jumps from razor-sharp wittiness to soul-stirring in the same breath. This was my reading experience of Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. It amused me endlessly, with laugh-out-loud prose and its cutting commentary on Asian stereotypes in America and at the same time I was devastated by the world that the Yu sketched – one of poverty, limitations and racism.