Te Kaihau: The Windeater
Written by: Keri Hulme
Te Herenga Waka University Press
Reviewed by: Kerry Lee
From stories that will shock you to ones that will make you smile and laugh, Te Kaihau: The Windeater from Keri Hulme covers it all. Originally released at the first New Zealand Arts Festival in 1986, it’s a collection of stories you’re sure to remember long after you have put the book down.
While the stories may be small in stature – one at only eight pages long – they more than make up for it with their wealth of suspense and their sometimes-macabre tone. One example that comes to mind is the story of a family that finds themselves staying in a seemingly uninhabited little town, with things going downhill from there. In others, Hulme takes the ordinary and weaves it into something somehow alluring. My favourite has to be One Whale, Singing, which is partly told from a whale’s point of view and asks if animals have genuine intelligence.
What makes this book so special is that from the title page, each story seems to have its own style and prose. I loved that and to me it felt like Hulme’s imaginative toolkit was inexhaustible. They really are amazing stories that kept me wholly invested, with full credit to the author for hooking me in and refusing to let go.
While each story may take a while to get going, the payoff is well worth it. Unfortunately, therein lies the problem: they are slow to start and anyone lacking patience may give up before giving them a chance to really get going. I would recommend that anyone interested in a good book with a wonderful ambience persevere.
If you are a fan of good writing and love your atmospheric books, then Te Kaihau: The Windeater is for you. While I cannot guarantee that all of the stories will be to your liking, I am willing to bet that there’s something in there for everyone, if only they would give it a go.