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on 27 December 2006
my first foray into NZ literature has been Janet Frame... a new discovery for me, even though she's one of New Zealand's most famous writers and won many prizes for her writing (novels, short stories, autobiography, poems).

This is her first collection of short stories published in 1951. The Lagoon is a collection of 24 stories, mostly written in first person, some are very short, but all have a beautiful attention for sensory detail.

I found the writing simple and stripped down. Its focus is on small resonating emotional moments and realisations. Often the narrators are adults reflecting on being a child, or children exploring their experience of family, or other more isolated characters - as in Dossy about a child with an imaginary friend, or Jan Godfrey whose narrator is in a psychiatric hospital.

It's probably not everyone's cup of tea - there is little deep intellectual or psychological analysis (although there is some interesting decontruction of self and story-telling in two of these stories).

Primarily, this is an emotional journey, a reflective collection, one deeply rooted in physical and emotional experience. The stories are voice-driven, beautifully detailed, achingly sad. They inter-relate, but are strong enough to stand alone. Read them in one sitting or slip them into short slices of time and let them linger...
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