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Christina Thompson

When asked to review Sea People: The puzzle of Polynesia, I thought it might be hard work – improving, but not necessarily fun. I could not have been more wrong. The book is a triumph. Exploring the remarkable history of Polynesian migration to the ‘vast triangle stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand to Easter Island’, it is magnificently researched, assured, and elegant ...

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About a year ago, when The Woodpecker Toy Fact and Other Stories was just a gleam in its author’s eye, I chanced to hear this very fancifully dressed woman read a story about childhood perception, semantic confusion, and small-town gossip. It was one of those welcome breaks at an academic conference, when we turned our attention from the analysis of art to the thing itself. And it was perhaps the context, along with the exceptional performance of the reader, which made this particular story stand out so vividly. For while it satisfied, they (by then quite desperate) desire to be enthralled by something fictive, it also played up cleverly to the critic in us all.

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The Delinquents by Criena Rohan & Down by the Dockside by Criena Rohan

February–March 1987, no. 88

Given the appetite of the literary industry, it’s hard to believe that a good thing can go unnoticed for long. But it happens. Occasionally the manuscript of an unheard-of author, or the out-of-print book of a forgotten one, finds its way into the hands of an influential member of the literary establishment – and from there to the rest of us. It’s a big event. Not only does it lend credibility to the old Shakespeare’s sister story (or one of its variants), but it indicates that, even in this over-determined world, it is still possible to be surprised.

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