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SRB: Montanas Unleash Literary Tempest

SRB Picks of the Week 13 June 2008
By Jeremy Rose for the Scoop Review of Books

The release of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards Finalists earlier this week unleashed something of a literary tempest. Graham "Bookman" Beattie declared on his blog that the judges' decision to shortlist just four - rather than the normal five - books in the fiction category would "create the greatest controversy" around the awards in many years. And he's done his best to ensure his prediction comes true.

Appearing on Radio NZ's Nine to Noon and posting numerous updates on Beattie's Blog he's been a tireless champion of the controversy.

Leaf Salon wrote a thoughtful "moan" on the awards. And Karl du Fresne argues on his blog that all awards are basically a lottery.

But undoubtedly the sweetest piece on the Montana shortlist is Mary McCallum's reaction to hearing that her first novel, Blue, is one the four books shortlisted in the fiction category.

There's a fascinating account of the life of George Simenon - author of the Inspector Maigret series and a few hundred other books by John Bainville in LA Weekly.

For those receiving this by email links can be found at


Abortion: War Without End
By Alison McCulloch
Abortion has always been a hard sell.
You can’t go around saying you’re for it (you have to agree with the opposition and say you’d like to see the numbers go down); the people who’ve had one won’t help you because they don’t want to talk about it (they fear the stigma, and don’t like the idea of being called a murderer by complete strangers); the church is against you and so are the visuals (the opposition has magnified images of fetuses, you have photos of women holding “My Body, My Choice” placards); instead of fighting for something concrete (saving whales and harp seals or helping cyclone victims), you’re stuck with advancing the cause of a shiftless concept (choice). More.

Comatosed Chick Lit for Post Shopoholics?
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
Bantam (Random House), $40. Reviewed by Andrea Jutson.
Another stand-alone novel from the author of the wildly successful and somewhat annoying Shopaholic series, Remember Me? is an easy read to be chewed through in hours. Lexi Smart wakes from a coma to discover that she has forgotten the past three years, in which she has somehow managed to become beautiful, land a rich and gorgeous husband and soar from lowly slave to top executive at her flooring company. Read more »

W B Sutch - Prophet Without Honour
By Tim Bollinger
New Zealand writer, thinker and public servant Dr. William Ball Sutch (1907-1975) was an intellectual giant in a country characterised by a culture of anti-intellectualism. Sutch was one of the country’s top public servants through the ‘Cold War’ period. He was economic adviser to two Ministers of Finance and Secretary-General of New Zealand’s first delegation to the United Nations after World War II. He was a best-selling author and popular commentator. More

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