Spitshine, by Michael Botur

Heroes, hoboes, homies and hamburger haters come together in Spitshine, the third collection of short stories by New Zealand author Michael Botur. Botur works as a casual journalist and copywriter, and his work has been published in a variety of newspapers. His poetry and fiction has been published in a number of New Zealand journals.

Spitshine features 16 grimy and gripping reads, mainly featuring a downbeat and outcast, motley crew of characters. But despite a strong presence from the ‘underbelly’ of New Zealand society, they are are both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

Like his previous collection Mean, Botur uses authentic street language and slang to perfectly portray real life in Spitshine. Once again, readers may need to put extra effort to keep their rhythm going, but they will be rewarded.

Botur speaks about the unspoken. From methods of killing, wife stealing, homemade porn and more, each story will exasperate and exhilarate the reader. ‘Princess Pristina’ and ‘McMurder’ are brilliant reads. Short, sharp and unexpected. Both will leave your heart racing with the surprise endings.

‘DVD Day’ was by far my favourite tale. A simple, easy to read, page-long story. Yet within those few paragraphs Botur masters the art of leaving things unsaid. It is a horrifying read though, and one that is sadly too true for many in our country.

Botur does important work. Even though they are works of fiction, some will unfortunately recognise a reflection of reality in them. These stories are an important glimpse into a life most of us will never experience.

Spitshine embodies the spirit of the quote “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”. It is not an easy read by any means, but it is an interesting, thought provoking and moving one.

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Rebekah is an Otago-based mother of two young girls. The former journalist and primary school teacher has a soft spot for New Zealand authors and young adult fiction. Follow her on Twitter.

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