Myth of the 21st Century: An Anthology of New Fiction. Edited by Tina Shaw & Jack Ross. ISBN 0-7900-1098-4. Auckland: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 2006. 137 pp.
Jack Ross & Tina Shaw: Introduction
Patricia Grace: Moon Story
Martin Edmond: The Temple of Baal
Tina Shaw: Albatross
Mike Johnson: The Wedding of Psyche
Karlo Mila: One Girl Dreaming
Anthony McCarten: Futures
Tracey Slaughter: A Tree Full of Angels
Vivienne Plumb: Plumb’s Fables
Charlotte Grimshaw: The Warrior Rupapera
Jack Ross: The Isle of the Cross
Maxine Alterio: Smoking Mirror
Aaron Taouma: Half a Cup of Ava
Judith White: Finkin and Acacia
Tim Corballis: The Search for the Third Thing
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Reviews & Comments:
- Steve Scott. NZ Herald Canvas (18 November, 2006) p.40.
This anthology has fused the voices of many cultures into one. It shows us how far we have come as a people, and how enriched our country is because of this. These myths serve their purpose: they make us think — they remind us of who, and where, we are.
- Jennifer Little. Massey News 21 (20 November, 2006), p.10.
While there is humour and poetic beauty throughout many of the 14 stories, there is also an undercurrent of darkness and foreboding, as one might expect in contemplations of a century faced with melting icecaps and environmental disaster.
Dr Ross says that myths can have a dual and contradictory role in society.
Myths are, on one hand, “agreed-upon fictions, essentially harmless ways of arranging an experience we all share but cannot easily express”.
Conversely, they are “monstrously damaging illusions, concerted denials of the actual nature of things” such as myths of racial and male superiority.
“I think the variety in the writing reflects a truth about New Zealand. It’s a jangling, complex place, mythologically as in every other sense.”
- Graeme Barrow. Northern Advocate (2 December, 2006) p.23.
It’s an interesting and eclectic collection, with some stimulating thoughts and writing, but somehow there’s a hint of the contrived about it, rather as if a class of talented school pupils had been asked to write an essay on a topic which didn’t quite grab them. …
- Indulgence. The Dominion Post Weekend (27/1/2007) 16.
In the last of 14 myths anthologised in Myth of the 21st Century (Reed, pb $34.99), Tim Corballis writes: “A myth, he thought, can’t have an author.” The “authors” in this diverse collection include its editors, Tina Shaw and Jack Ross, and also Patricia Grace, Charlotte Grimshaw, Mike Johnson and Martin Edmond, among others. They were invited to speculate (truthfully, in my opinion) on what sort of mythic tales we might need in the new century.
- Robin List. Wairarapa Times-Age (14 April, 2007) p.9.
The biggest myth in the book is the assumption that somehow we can, ahead of events, shape mythologies for indeterminate outcomes. That doesn’t mean that the book is futile. It can provoke serious reflection about what we are doing and how that will affect the future. And travelling with that enterprise is the interest and satisfaction of reading good writers who are trying to push the boundaries.
- Jenny Argante. "Myth Fans Strut their Stuff." Bay of Plenty Times (28/4/07) 27.
The editors have put together an intriguing collection. You won’t respond to all the stories, but some will linger long alter you’ve closed this book. And if this is “new fiction” we have no need to worry about the quality of New Zealand writing at present.
- Jenny DeBell. "Same notes, different tunes." NZ Books Vol 17, No. 3, Issue 79 (Spring 2007).
Much of the contemporary Samoan writing tends towards finding a way to treasure a fading culture within the temptations of modernity, but many of the writers in Myth of the 21st Century: An Anthology of New Fiction find that their niche is in the more traditional folktale. Patricia Grace’s “Moon Story”, the first story of the collection, sets us squarely in the realm of nature fables, when the foolish Rona is punished for her hasty criticism of the moon: “It was an enormity to look Moon in the eye the way she did and call it a big bowl of boil-up in which its own head simmered and steamed.”
... the collection provides an insightful glimpse into origins of Pacific Island storytelling and the folktales that have influenced the contemporary New Zealand aesthetic.
- Claude Lundgren. "Different, sometimes humorous, worth a look." Northern Advocate (3/11/07) 26.
... a courageous but failed attempt at the near impossible task of mythologizing the present. Myths are by nature stories that have developed over a long period of time, so creating new ones, dealing with new themes is no easy task.