Raiment: A Memoir by Jan Kemp (Massey University Press, 2022), 255 pp, $35; Things I Learned at Art School by Megan Dunn (Penguin, 2021), 352 pp, $35
In 1971, the Canadian author Alice Munro wrote: ‘There is a change coming in the lives of girls and women … All women have had up till now has been their connection with men.’ Two years later, the US Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Roe v Wade—a decision that has recently been reversed. It is difficult, sometimes, not to feel that Munro’s optimism was misplaced, that women’s connection with men is still too often the defining condition of their existence.
These memoirs by Jan Kemp and Megan Dunn provide an opportunity to reflect on the changing lives of girls and women during the past fifty years in Aotearoa. Though wildly different in tone and style, as well as the time frames on which they focus—the counter-culture of the late 60s and early 70s in Kemp’s Raiment; 1990s postmodernism in Dunn’s Things I Learned At Art School—both memoirs recount their author’s quest for self-expression and independence within creative sub-cultures in Auckland. [Read more…]