Shelf Life: Reviews, replies and reminiscences by C.K. Stead (Auckland University Press, 2016), 452 pp., $45
C.K. Stead’s latest collection of ruminations, Shelf Life, is illuminating about what has driven and drives this venerable, multi-award-winning author. He states in an interview that what is important to him is observation: ‘It’s the escape – the relief! – from the ego. The world around you is what matters.’ The back-cover blurb tells the reader that ‘the guiding voice’ is ‘clear, incisive’. One is offered the image of an author polishing his prose and verse to transparency.
This is Stead’s fourth selection of assorted literary criticism and related prose, the last appearing eight years ago. He claims this is a milder, less controversial selection than the previous three. The retired don calls this non-fiction his ‘afternoon work’; ‘morning work’ is writing verse and fiction. [Read more…]