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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Two Left Feet by W F Stubbs

Updated: May 12

One of the reasons that I love books so much is the pleasure of discovery—the enjoyment of finding something different and unexpected—something that it is a pleasure to spend a few hours with. Very often, we do not know what we are going to find inside the covers, so it is rewarding to find something fresh and different.

I was drawn to W F Stubbs Two Left Feet by the description, ‘snapshots of poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction, and journal entries.’ A perfect mix of writing forms I love. Add some extra ingredients, South Island locations and candid observations of a developing relationship and the reader has everything they need for a lasting experience and a memorable journey.

There are five parts to the book. A prologue and a third person story that provides some background and a recurring sense of context, followed by a poetry section called ‘Afterwards’, then a ‘Journalogue’ of short non-fiction pieces, a section called ‘Part III’, and a winding up section called ‘Only Ourselves’ which mixes first and third person liberally in the same pieces. What I enjoyed is that almost everything is in the first person, bringing us close to the author and the events of his life.

It is impossible to go anywhere in the collection without encountering ‘Miss Sherlock’. She is the central enigma, never fully revealed to the reader, never fully described, but always present. Companion in the L300 van in which the couple tour the South Island. There are arguments  and misunderstandings:

‘I will go back to bed, wake Miss Sherlock up, I will apologise, she will say she does not mind, slip back into her slumber, but sleep will continue to evade me.’

Somewhere amongst all this there is an unease about the situation between the author and Miss Sherlock – too many falling outs and reconciliations. ‘I long for love’ the author says ‘but cannot accept the simple gift of company.’ The reader is left wanting them to be OK, to patch up their differences and be close, because in that closeness there is real feeling.

There is a very telling statement:

‘Youth is beautiful, but common. No spots, cracks, and lines of age to distinguish one teenager from the next. Time has not removed the commonalities of eye depth, brow flatness, cheek smoothness. The simple man’s curse is to fall in love with youth because he cannot distinguish depth of character from airbrushed features.’

The landscape also plays a role, the small towns of the South Island rolling through. They are observed and left behind.  I liked this paragraph:

The Remarkables and the range alongside Lake Wakatipu heading north to Glenorchy shrug off the clouds that roam their peaks, occasional gasps of light breaking through onto the slopes. Here great strutting ranges rule the skyline scenery, clear pristine but often choppy water surrounds, and a commercial town filled with British accents in shop fronts have their tiny space to charge over-priced burgers, labelled clothing, tourist souvenirs, and accommodation for all travellers passing through. An unremarkable town ruled by its own self-importance.

It is a perfect illustration of where the collection succeeds, where the coming together of the various forms work because the eye and voice of the poet also informs and rolls into the prose and the creative non-fiction.

Joining the author and Miss Sherlock on their travels will be very rewarding.

Reviewer: Marcus Hobson

Warshell Publishing


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