IS A CHRONICLE of an agonizing double loss to suicide: first
the author's great love, anddizzyingly shortly afterher
precious younger brother.
Antonella Gambotto draws the reader in from the
book's very beginning: her writing is extraordinarly intense,
occasionally to the point of discomfort. At times the reader almost
wants a break from her obsession, but as Gambotto's publisher claims,
the tale is hypnotizing. As The Age so eloquently puts it:
The writing is
like being unable to stop staring into
the sun when you've been told it damages your eyes
Part of the book's strange attraction is its view
into the outrageous and ultimately deadly private life of Michael
VerMeulen, legendary American editor of British GQ. But this
slightly tabloid stuff is more than balanced by Gambotto's highly
detailed, serious research into suicide statistics.
Seemingly miraculously, the author does recover
from the devastation and has some really striking thoughts about
surviving tragedy. In a letter to a fellow survivor,
she writes, Our hearts have been broken, but not in the way
you think. Some kind of protective shell or covering has been smashed,
leaving the heart raw and exposedhence the painbut actually
more capable of love.
The Eclipse is challenging both intellectually
and emotionally and leaves the reader with a feeling that (s)he
should start again from the beginning, so packed is it with fact
and detail and passion. JR
The Eclipse: a Memoir of Suicide is available at Broken
Ankle Books: click
here for more details.
Gambotto, author of The Eclipse.
ABOVE: The authors
copy of Undressedthe second ever autographed by Gregg.
sure what to expect from Stacy Greggs Undressed: New Zealand
Fashion Designers Tell Their Stories
as I attended its launch during LOréal New Zealand
Fashion Week. Gregg, editor-in-chief of the newly closed-down Style
magazine (it has such goodwill that I do not suspect its closure
will be for longand Gregg can expect to be very busy) is perhaps
better placed than anyone in New Zealand, certain past and present
Apparel staffers aside, to write about the ins and outs of
New Zealand fashion with historical depth.
But this isnt strictly a history-book, either.
Rather, the title is accurate: its a chance for her subjectsall
New Zealand names such as Zambesi, Nom D, Karen Walker,
Trelise Cooper and Worldto tell
their stories. Gregg, and collaborator Cathrin Schaer, serve merely
as intermediaries, each designers recollection verified and
reported as a professional journalist would. There is no surprise,
given Greggs background.
It serves its purpose well, but it leaves one
wondering about the raison dêtre of Undressed.
It is not as though the stories have been told poorly beforethe
history of Starfish, for instance, has similar touchpoints to what
has been reported in Lucire. New Zealand does not have much
of a tabloid pressapart from those broadsheets that really
possess the souls of tabloids in their quest for news as entertainmentso
setting the story straight should not be a huge item
on the agenda.
However, it remains the most useful compilation
of stories about how these designers got to where they are. As Gregg
put it in her introduction, there are no real books on New Zealand
fashion, yet dozens on other centres. There are nice illustrations
and the composition is professional, though be warned: the presence
of photographs risks dating the book tremendously. Penguins
decision to go paperback takes away the to treasure on the
bookshelf feeling which Greggs, and Schaers, words
richly deserve. JY
Undressed: New Zealand Fashion Designers Tell Their Stories
is available from bookstores in New Zealand. Click
here for Horizon Bookshops etail link.
Julie Roulston is Auckland editor of FashioNZ.
Jack Yan is founding publisher of Lucire and co-author of
How the New Values of Transparency and Integrity Are Changing the
World of Brands (London: Kogan Page, 2003).
Lucire: Fashionable times
(book reviews, May 9, 2003)