Kirsten McDougall

The Invisible Rider

ISBN: 9780864737670



NZ Listener top 100 pick, 2012.

Philip Fetch is a lawyer with an office in a suburban shopping mall, a husband and father, and a cyclist on Wellington’s narrow and winding streets. He is also a man who increasingly finds simple things in life baffling. As he moves through the sometimes alarming and sometimes comical episodes of this novel, a break in the hurtling flow of events looms ahead. Is it safe for Philip to pull out and pass? Tender and magical, and fired by a quietly burning moral engagement, The Invisible Rider asks what it takes to be happy in the world.

[McDougall] captures the absurdist state of motherhood – the battle between biscuits and principles. From the foul-mouthed four-year-old taking “thirty-six hours and a knife to come out” to the “maniac with a hygiene fetish”, the details are droll and true, and the story ends where a preschooler’s logic might lead you. – Sarah Laing, The NZ Listener.

“We liked the wry observation and the, well, yes, maternal affection that drove the story. This was a mother we believed in: put-upon, sick of domesticity, angry, self-doubting, ruthless; yet loving and wry and somehow deeply contented. ‘Clean Hands Save Lives’ is about how families work; it’s about generational power struggle; it’s about how to be a functioning mother. There’s lovely pacing (the scene with the neighbour in the supermarket carpark is pitch perfect); and yet we get a real story, not just a quick sketch of family dynamics—and there’s also a nice sense of comic circularity (the snake with its tail in its mouth) courtesy of some supermarket biscuits.” – Judges’ Report, The Long and the Short of It

Kirsten McDougall was born in 1974 and grew up in Wellington and Masterton. She was educated at Victoria University, graduating in 2004 with a Masters in Creative Writing. She has had writing published in Sport, Turbine and Big Weather: Poems of Wellington (2nd edition). Kirsten was a winner of The Long and the Short of It short story competition in 2011, in which her story ‘Clean hands save lives’ won first prize in the short section. She lives in Wellington with her partner and two children. The Invisible Rider is her first book.

Praise for The Invisible Rider:

'charming, heart-wrenching and funny. McDougall imbues her book with a lovely optimism and an infectious affection for her characters; this is a writer to watch.' - Louise O'Brien, NZ Listener

'quirky, playful and finally moving' - Lawrence Jones, Otago Daily Times

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1 Review

Pip Adam 18th Dec 2012

This is great for so many reasons, here are a few ...

This is a great book for so many reasons. My favourite thing about it is that, as a reader, I get to take an active part in the formation of its narrative. What is cut from this novel is the connective tissue that an author might use to lead a reader through a life. Instead, each chapter cuts out a little more of the cloth so the narrative takes shape. It's an extremely satisfying read on several levels. The language is superbly crafted on a sentence-by-sentence level yet feels very un-poetic, in a good way. The images and the events of the novel seem fresh and exciting and I think it has a subtle way of changing a reader's view of things that are happening now.

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