Take Five: Including Emily Valentine: Feather Fancier and 4th Floor

by Guy Somerset / 27 December, 2012
Emily Valentine: Feather Fancier; 4th Floor and Aesop's Kiwi Fables.


Emily Valentine: Feather Fancier
Emily Valentine: Feather Fancier

Really, you don’t need to do anything else this week other than stay in and watch the DVD release of the first season of GIRLS (HBO/Warner). It was the best written, directed and acted TV comedy of 2012 – quite possibly the best written, directed and acted TV anything. It’s about four twentysomething women in New York, but don’t let anyone fob you off with Sex and the City comparisons, for Girls is about as far from the lacquer and gloss of that show as you can imagine, coming as it does out of the “mumble core” independent film aesthetic of creator/writer/director/star Lena Dunham. The DVD is packed with extras, and if you think Adam (Adam Driver), boyfriend of Dunham’s character, Hannah, is off the weirdometer onscreen, their sex scenes excruciatingly candid and messed up, you should see Driver’s audition tape and his and Dunham’s table reads. It’s a close-run thing, but Adam is narrowly beaten in the best-character stakes by guileless virgin Shoshanna, played to perfection by Zosia Mamet, daughter of writer David Mamet and actor Lindsay Crouse. As Glamour magazine’s well-earned Ode to Shosh points out, “Whereas regular Shoshanna is like the rest of the world on crack, Shoshanna on crack was just … the moment of the season.”


If you must insist on straying from the sofa, and even, God forbid, venturing into the bush, John Dawson and Rob Lucas’s FIELD GUIDE TO NEW ZEALAND'S NATIVE TREES (Craig Potton, $49.99) would make a handy addition to your backpack. The guide is a companion to the hefty 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards Book of the Year, New Zealand’s Native Trees – which, laudable and comprehensive as it is, no one could accuse of being either handy or backpack-able. Or, at $120, especially cheap, but that hasn’t stopped it flying off bookshop shelves, suggesting there will be plenty of takers for this abridged version.


SOMETHING AIN’T RIGHT: UNEASY ART FROM THE VAULT is a neat way of packaging a mini exhibition of works from the collection of Waikato Museum, inviting us to ponder exactly what it is about the works that makes them disturbing. New Zealanders Michael Smither and Jeffrey Harris and American Suzanne Goldberg are among those whose works are featured. Until January 20.


No animals were harmed in the making of EMILY VALENTINE: FEATHER FANCIER at Tauranga Art Gallery (until February 10) – well, aside from trapped Indian mynah birds, a registered pest. Otherwise, the real feathers Valentine uses for her mythical cats, dogs and lizards, and now bird-airplane hybrids, are from road kill and dead pets. Nonetheless, the SPCA might still want to investigate, in the interests of protecting animals from artistic whimsy. While it’s at it, it should take a look at Ray Ching’s book AESOP’S KIWI FABLES (Bateman, $49.99), an accompanying exhibition for which has already shown in Auckland and will be touring nationwide.


I confess I wasn’t aware before of 4th FLOOR. My loss – it’s been going since 2005 and is an annual literary journal from Whitireia New Zealand, featuring poetry, fiction and non-fiction from past and present creative writing students and tutors (this edition including Elizabeth Smither, Kate Camp and Lynn Jenner) and put together by its publishing students, all under the editorship of a professional writer, previously Mandy Hager and for the past five years Hinemoana Baker. Among many highlights is a lovely meditation On hands and being held by poet Helen Heath, whose latest collection is reviewed here.

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