This review was originally published in Landfall 242 and is republished here in memory of Stephen Stratford (1953–2021). A fine editor and reviewer, Stratford made an invaluable contribution to Aotearoa literature over many years.
Life as a Novel: A biography of Maurice Shadbolt, Volume 2 1973–2004 by Philip Temple (David Ling Publishing Limited, 2021), 352pp, $44.99
Another marvellous performance from Philip Temple with multiple plots and time-lines expertly interwoven. As with Volume 1, it is a triumph of research and narrative skill. But what is missing is a subtitle. Perhaps this quote from Shadbolt: ‘What a human muddle I leave in my wake.’
God, this book is grim reading. Not the author’s fault—it is entirely the subject’s. There are many upsetting passages but none more so than when Shadbolt’s daughter Tui came up from Wellington by train, on her own, and he refused to see her. She was twelve. [Read more…]