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Superb writing from a fiercely intelligent writer in the vanguard of New Zealand literature.

Riffing on truth, lies and secrets, this collection uses fiction to explore fact, and fact to explore fiction.

Fictional characters muse upon the truth behind real people, non-fiction pieces contain short interludes of fiction, fiction is written to read like an essay, made-up elements slip into true accounts. These pieces range the world – from America, to Antwerp to Aotearoa – and talk about writers and writing, famous figures, family members, witch-burning in Denmark, cyclones and numerous pertinent and stimulating topics. All brilliantly written, each will leave you thinking and desperate to jump back in for more.

Reviews

Have I given the impression that this is a varied and interesting collection? I hope so. Of course, there are changes of tone, given that fiction is never quite the same as non-fiction and given that most of the contents first appeared in publications aimed at different audiences. But the sharp intelligence of the author, the skill in handling different genres, the factual research, the attention to telling detail and - yes - the tender regard for forebears are all here, and all make this a wonderful read.

Nicholas Reid, Weekend Press

A thread runs through Paula Morris' new collection of terse stories and interrogating essays False River - a strong current, if you like. Some of the pieces, as an author's warning note makes clear, began life as fiction but have since morphed into essays, while other essays have been published in the past as fiction. . . . clear-eyed, undaunted, strong. . . . Morris examines the stories we tell ourselves as a balm - a palliative bandage for raw wounds.

James Robins, Weekend Herald

This is an invigorating, sophisticated selection from a writer at the top of her form.

Paul Little, North and South

A new collection by Paula Morris mixes offbeat pilgrimages with personal tales. . . . Morris's mastery of bickering dialogue is both alarming and terribly funny. It adds yet another enriching dimension to this perceptive, sly and, yes, occasionally obsessive collection.

Linda Herrick, NZ Listener

These stories are entertaining, educational and enjoyable, a great book to pick up and dip into and often a learning experience. I loved them all.

Margaret Reilly, Hawkes Bay Weekend

pretty radical and thought-provoking . . . absolutely at the top of her craft . . . wry, or sly . . . good for our brains

Tilly Lloyd, National Radio

Morris . . . is a terrific essayist, knowing exactly how to drive the narrative on and compressing researched nuggets without clogging up the flow. The personal essays, such as those about her mother or father, are tender, sometimes sad but never maudlin, and revealing - about the author's own woes and maladies, about her needs as a daughter, as a writer. They feel very real. Her writing is never showy, drawing attention to itself by being needlessly convoluted or recondite - this is a talent in itself - but even the simpler stories are layered. . . . Morris's stories are full of incident and intrigue, and what you might call twists. . . . All throughout is humour, usually a wry wit within the storytelling if not the characters, but occasionally something more acid. Great characters, like Thea and Delia and May, you want to hear more from. And the author isn't afraid to leave her endings open. . . . It's a well-judged blend of stories.

Mark Broatch, NZ Books

Among the many delights, for me, of reading Paula Morris’s wonderful, unclassifiable prose collection, False River, was the recurrent sensation of being reminded of other incredible writers . . . The word above all that comes to mind when I try to consider the range of Morris’s achievements in this collection is ‘generosity’ – the generosity with which she has given of her own history, her homes and relationships, some of her most formative and affecting experiences (often without the masks or disguises afforded by fiction), her range of intellectual interests. And there are gifts held out in her forms as well, in Morris’s great dexterity, for other writers to be inspired by, or anyone interested in all that literature can be, or even thinking – the wonderfully enlivening touch by which everything of significance that one has known, thought about, visited or read can be transformed into narrative, as long as there is life and interest to be drawn out of it. The most disparate things can be linked and juxtaposed, and flow together in one unbounded river of truths.

Rajorshi Chakraborti, Landfall

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9780143771630

    October 30, 2017

    Penguin

    288 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

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