Elizabeth Knox

Love School, The: Personal Essays

ISBN: 9780864735928

Named a Finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2009

"My why—why I began writing, why I continued—comes down to two things. The first is a desperate need to be someone other than myself, and a delight in being someone else, somewhere else. That’s what accounts for the novels. The other thing that made me start, and made me go on, was an urge to save what I cared for, to commemorate what I loved. These essays do that".

The Love School collects more than twenty years’ of Elizabeth Knox’s non-fiction. These frank and revealing essays and talks tell the story of her writing’s beginnings in childhood imaginary games played with her sisters and friends; of leaving home and working at Inland Revenue to earn money to write; of the writing and putting away of the two novels that came before her prize-winning debut, After Z-Hour, in 1987; and of the extraordinary novels which followed. Here is Wellington in the eighties: lives led in now demolished buildings, the pastimes and politics of the period described with vivid particularity, passion, wisdom and a sense of the absurd.

In these pages the reader will encounter the comic: possums who invade and occupy a portion of the author’s Brooklyn flat; the dramatic: the Red Squad at the intersection of Rintoul and Riddiford Streets on Wellington test day; and the mysterious: an angelic stranger in a Venetian back street.

Praise for The Love School

Named one of the Listener's BEST BOOKS OF 2008
Knox has, like CK Stead, a remarkably interesting mind, and the essays here offer freewheeling access to it, with candid clues of both a biographical and literary nature (including the complex and pivotal imaginary games played over many years with her sisters and friends). You will learn much about the origins and methods of Knox’s writing, and her “delight in being someone else” in her fiction, but perhaps the greatest pleasure the book affords is the way she uses language to reclaim the past, to claim the present – “There’s a challenge in packing each new sight, sound, smell, sensation in language before storing it in your memory.”

...an appealing, sure-footed collection of essays. A Knox moves from doubts about her chosen field to frank delight at her success, you understand that this is someone who says what she thinks, and enjoys it.
Jolisa Gracewood LISTENER

Named one of the Herald's BEST BOOKS OF 2008
A marvellous 20-year compilation of essays by one of our most original writers which amounts to an autobiography - of sorts. As our reviewer said, "she allows the boundary between autobiography and fiction to be a highly porous one". She covers an amazingly diverse range of subjects in a collection which achieves the perfect marriage of being both interesting and a joy to read.

When Knox talks about being "inclusive and unflinching", she isn't putting forward abstract doctrine. Her willingness to talk frankly about her family life and her childhood is remarkable not only in itself, but for the way in which it opens up her fiction and makes its driving imperatives easier to grasp.

Her writing throughout the book is characteristically good, especially in some of the longer pieces, where she draws ideas together with a clarity and an economy of language which had me laughing in happy disbelief. While we wait (impatiently) for next year's sequel to The Vintner's Luck, this guided tour through the mind of one of our most important writers is a fascinating treat.
David Larsen NZ HERALD

These are stories about why she writes, how she got into writing, about moving her mother out of the family home about walking a friend's dog. Each is as beautifully written as the others, allowing the reader to dip in and out whenever they need a unique view of the world. Sophie Fern OTAGO DAILY TIMES


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