A heartfelt, hilarious and warm-hearted memoir of New Zealand in the 1960s.
When you walk along the pier under the huge blue sky and with clean surf on either side, you can easily think that New Brighton is the loveliest place in the world. This was once New Zealand’s most bustling township, however it became a parable of New Zealand when the revolution of the eighties and nineties derailed it. New Brighton’s youth grew up in happy anarchy beside its great, glorious beach.
In Gods and Little Fishes, Bruce Ansley gives us immediate entry into one such rich, well-lived boyhood and family life. He both captures the freedoms of a childhood many would envy now, and offers a perceptive adult sensibility charged with a partisan view. Not only a marvellous memoir, this is also a superb portrait of a seaside town set in the second half of last century. New Brighton’s playing fields, the pier, the Cubs and Scouts, the main street shops, even the easterly, are given as much character as the township’s old identities.
The nuances of family life, the complexities of a marriage, the entanglements of small town relationships, and the very culture of the place are all conveyed with love and humour, as well as a sharp sense of what has been lost.
The sound and brilliance of the sea, the wind, the women, the shadow of a generation of men who went to war: all are described with a poetic clarity and dancing wit that will make you long to have lived the author’s boyhood alongside him.