Life in a day

by Lily Richards / 20 June, 2013
Lily Richards reviews The Homeland of Pure Joy, by William Dewey.
William Dewey
William Dewey. Photo/Adam Erdossy


Riffing on sex, love and Martin Heidegger, The Homeland of Pure Joy is an astute and enjoyable observation of first loves, true loves and Wellington as city and mistress.William Dewey, Homeland of Pure Joy

William Dewey is American-born but occasionally New Zealand-based and has placed his novel in an amusingly familiar capital, over the course of a day.

A possible sighting of his first love leads Parker Flynn to follow a woman through the city, thereby catalysing a series of events, each of which has a direct impact on his romantic future. Parker abandons himself to the luxury of looking back and the optimism required to look forward.  We learn about the ex, Katie, in retrospect, through little elliptical intrusions that work near-seamlessly with the present-day plot of Parker falling for his co-star in a play about Heidegger and Hannah Arendt.

The architecture of the city is warmly rendered: the endless concrete stairs to any house and the irritating frequency of themed parties within them; the closeness of a kebab and the likelihood of seeing someone you know. Against this backdrop, Dewey pushes the story ever forward in what’s essentially a romantic thriller – the story of Parker’s past relationship being told while his current love life hangs in the balance.

In many ways evoking the panic dreams in which you never get where you’re going, The Homeland of Pure Joy flirts with the reader’s desire for understanding, closure and certainty, a point designed to mimic the uncertainties of love. With only a few sagging moments towards the end, where the reminiscences pale in interest compared with the drama of Parker’s current love, Dewey ­ultimately succeeds in using a day to tell the story of a life.

THE HOMELAND OF PURE JOY, by William Dewey (Lawrence and Gibson, $25).

Latest

Ian McEwan confronts the biggest mysteries of life in Machines Like Me
105820 2019-05-23 00:00:00Z Books

Ian McEwan confronts the biggest mysteries of life…

by Charlotte Grimshaw

Ian McEwan’s tale of human-robot love links emotional and artificial intelligence in intriguing ways, writes Charlotte Grimshaw.

Read more
Is chemical residue on fruit and vegetables worth worrying about?
105778 2019-05-23 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Is chemical residue on fruit and vegetables worth…

by Jennifer Bowden

The chemical residues on fruit and vegetables are not dangerous, but rinsing is still advisable.

Read more
Tech Week: Tech no substitute for human kindness in healthcare
106277 2019-05-23 00:00:00Z Tech

Tech Week: Tech no substitute for human kindness i…

by Peter Griffin

A three-month trial at Christchurch Hospital saw remarkable results.

Read more
How Auckland Museum's sustainability journey began on the rooftop
106248 2019-05-23 00:00:00Z Planet

How Auckland Museum's sustainability journey began…

by Ken Downie

Until recently, the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s buildings were highly dysfunctional, says John Glen, the museum’s head of building infrastructure.

Read more
Australia's remote islands home to 414 million pieces of plastic pollution
106295 2019-05-23 00:00:00Z Planet

Australia's remote islands home to 414 million pie…

by Noted

More than 230 tonnes of plastic including straws, bags and toothbrushes found on Australian islands.

Read more
Parliament bullying: Mallard urges rape victims to seek support
What drives 'lone wolf' terrorists? And how can we prevent future attacks?
106117 2019-05-22 00:00:00Z Social issues

What drives 'lone wolf' terrorists? And how can we…

by Devon Polaschek, Maryanne Garry and Joe Burton

Violent extremists are often depicted as “lone wolves”. But this belies the broader psychological, social and digital contexts in which they act.

Read more
Counterterrorism experts on why we must engage with online extremists
106123 2019-05-22 00:00:00Z Social issues

Counterterrorism experts on why we must engage wit…

by David Hall

Seeing an NZ flag flying at a neo-fascist rally in Germany prompted David Hall to ask why violent radicalisation was affecting even his fellow Kiwis.

Read more