Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold by Māori Writers, edited by Witi Ihimaera and Whiti Hereaka

Second paragraph of third chapter (“Skin and Bones”, by Tina Makereti):
It was spring. He went about the place tilling and planting and from time to time felt an urge. He’d look down and see his own weighty erection and think What am I supposed to do with this?
This was a thank-you-for-volunteering from CoNZealand, last year’s Worldcon. It’s an anthology of both newly commissioned work and pieces published in the last forty years or so, addressing the core strands of Māori mythology. I confess I felt somewhat thrown in at the deep end; it was only as I reached the end of the book that I found quite a large and useful chink of explanatory matter that would have helped my appreciation of the stories. For once I would advise readers to start at the back.

At the same time, I’m very appreciative of this sort of effort. I’ve read an awful lot of adaptations of Celtic Myth, and the Matter of Britain has not exactly been neglected by recent writers either; the Matter of Aotearoa is important too. And even without the background knowledge of What It’s All About, these are generally good stories by names which are new to me - the only author I’d previously head of is Keri Hulme. I guess the ones that grabbed me most where those with links to cultural setups I already knew about - eg “Māui Goes to Hollywood” by David Geary, which mixes Māui the trickster with 20th-century mythical figures like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, or “Moving Mountains” by Clayton Te Kohe, which looks at shared history, culture and creativity through a music fan’s love for a long-since dissipated band. But they are all stimulating and I think I would like a paper copy of the book, to be able to riffle between stories and explanation more readily.

This was at the top of my pile of books by non-white authors. Next on that is Riot Baby, by Tochi Obyebuchi.
Tags: bookblog 2021, world: new zealand

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