Kurangaituku graces us with the story of Hatupatu and the Bird-Woman from the female perspective. It tells of the coming into being, and fading from existence, of the universe, the natural world, and the individual. It asks why we learn about the death of Maui and not the violation of Hinenuitepō; why we are taught history from the male point of view. It demonstrates the power and destruction of language and shows how ‘love and creation’ are just ‘revenge and destruction’ seen from another perspective. It is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
Ulysses, a young Cockney soldier and amateur mapmaker, Evelyn a British art historian (and spy?) meet on a road in Tuscany, and spend the night in the cellar of a bombed out building with the British Army as they prepare to march on Florence. Also in that cellar is a piece of priceless art and as Evelyn tells Ulysses why art is worth saving, she changes the course of his young life.
Our protagonist is a woman in her late thirties, whose name we know only from the sleeve notes - Alice. We learn through the novel that Alice has had a not-too-unusual upbringing, that she is a very bad judge of situations, and that as a child she had an invisible friend called Simp – the kind of friend who advises eating all the chocolates, or burning down the house. Simp has returned - Alice’s boyfriend has left her, her best friend Amy is starting to drift away, and Alice is facing the question that we all face: “Yes, it was a mountain of shit and it was avalanching down on our heads. But what was I to do about it?”
Charlie Lowry was fifteen-years-old in the late seventies - full of dreams and fantasies, and concerns about her peeling toenail varnish. She wanted boys to notice her, and they sometimes did, but for her fascination with words – she was always one for the funny pun – they didn’t see her potential for glamorous romance. One night at a party, a boy did notice her - and she thought she had achieved her dream. But instead, she found herself in a situation that could only be resolved by a quick trip to Sydney, or by her ‘going up North for a while’.
Kristen Radtke’s Seek You is an exploration of loneliness, past and present – a topic made more prevalent in our current circumstances as we both feel isolated from the people who matter to us, those abroad for instance, and have a heightened awareness of the other people occupying the space around us.