The Deck by Fiona Farrell (RHNZ Vintage, 2023), 304pp, $37
Fiona Farrell is one of our foremost writers, accomplished in fiction, drama, poetry and essay, and as a scholar. All of these talents are necessarily employed in The Deck, her most challenging work yet, both for her and for readers. The Deck is a powerful and layered book, a cross-genre piece bringing together the past and the present, fact and fiction, poetry and statistics, escape and confrontation. Farrell never writes the same book twice and this is further proof of that.
Even the title itself has a teasing multiplicity of meaning. On receiving a copy of the book, I thought, what deck? After reading it, I was able to see various references and connotations: the decking on which the holidaymakers gather to tell stories, the deck from which life deals cards to us all, and of course, most significantly, the connection to the title of Giovanni Boccaccio’s classic volume The Decameron, which was written in fourteenth century Italy shortly after the horrors of the Black Death. [Read more…]