Tail of the Taniwha has become one of my ‘muse’ books, a work that I find inspiring for Courtney Sina Meredith’s different ways of using words to get across story and ideas, and the depth of many of the pieces.
It is a short fiction book – somewhat a blur between short stories and what could be flash fiction and prose poetry. Each piece is set out differently. The pages are set out, with different fonts and layouts for each piece. Without prominent titles, so you just read things that flow into each other.
It begins with the more traditional short story layout of Great Works, where she talks to the Goddess Nafanua in the foreign setting of the London Tate Museum wondering at the ethnicity of the ‘exotic’ through her presence there. A/B is a dialogue on opposing pages, the male and female perspective of inner monologues coming together to discussion
“Flying somewhere warm to escape the excessive scaffolding that holds in place a person you no longer recognize.”
Aotahi is a story revealed piece by piece, starting shorter, adding in lines in different colours that become bolder and highlighted in different parts. The story is talk about God and actions, constellations and giving of yourself through action. It is the kind of story that needs the repetition to understand the meaning – who is Aotahi?
Taniwha House is told through three settings, each having their own storyline, with interconnected characters, focusing on different stages of relationship and symbols through each one. One story is highlighted at a time. His room: Grandfather relationship/love: early relationship, now widowed. Nails as symbol, Den: Young relationship (girl-woman, boy-man): sex, bodies, skin, Kitchen: Middle aged relationship, marriage: clock.
Each piece in the book I poured through, reading multiple times to try and really enjoying, and I have mulled over many of her ideas and techniques in my own writing this year as I focus particularly on writing short fiction (flash fiction predominantly so far) and poetry, and experiment with words.