What You Made of It A Memoir, 1987-2020
Having left the university to write full-time at the end of volume two, Stead throws himself into his work. In novels like Sister Hollywood and My Name Was Judas, criticism in the London Review of Books and the Financial Times, poetry and memoir, Stead establishes his international reputation as novelist, poet and critic. It is also a period when Stead’s fearless lucidity on matters literary and political embroil him in argument – from The Bone People to the meaning of the Treaty to the controversy over a London writer’s flat. What was it like to be Allen Curnow’s designated ‘Critic across the Crescent’; or alternatively to be labelled ‘the Tonya Harding of NZ Lit’? How did poems emerge from time and place, sometimes as naturally as ‘leaves to a tree’, sometimes effortfully? And how did novels about individual men and women retell stories of war (World War II, Yugoslavia, Iraq) and peace? Covering Stead’s travels from Los Angeles to Liguria, Croatia and Crete to Caracas and Colombia, as New Zealand poet laureate and Kohi swimmer, What You Made of It takes us deep inside the mind and experience of one of our major writers – and all in Stead’s famously lucid ‘story-telling’ prose.