Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Waitapu by Helen Margaret Waaka

Central Hawke’s Bay author Helen Waaka’s first collection of short stories entitled Waitapu (the fictional rural town where they are set) contains 18 vignettes of life.

New Zealanders will recognise themselves, their friends, their relatives and their lives in it and, as often happens with short stories written elsewhere, non-New Zealanders will learn a little more about us, and likely as not recognise themselves and their lives too for the themes are the same the world over.

The compilation covers the universal themes of life and loss, hardship and kindness, ways of coping and not. Two of my personal favourites are “The Pool” about a teenaged boy and his grandfather, and “Snapshot of a Woman” telling of a Resthome resident, her wandering and finding.

As Anna Taylor’s comment on the cover reads: “This book is about the small, and significant, ways we have an impact on each other’s lives, and it is also about survival, and the triumph of kindness.”

Adrienne Jansen of Escalator Press said at the Book’s launch: “Helen is to be commended for writing short stories which read effortlessly. It is a difficult thing to do.” I agree with her on both accounts. This book is one to read, and recommend to others.

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