20 May, 2016

Stories men tell: New Zealand men talk about their lives edited by Neville Aitchison and John Keir

Described as a gym where the workout is only incidental to relaxation and comradeship, the Atrium Club, a private men only club in Central Auckland, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the establishment released a book. 50 years, 50 stories contributed by its wide cast of characters.

Members, who include doctors, lawyers, journalists, wealthy businessmen, school teachers, salesmen and academics, were asked to write about "a moment in their lives: one that may have enriched them for the better or shaken them for the worse, but a moment that has a continuing resonance.”

The stories and yarns that they may have shared anecdotally at the treadmill, in the sauna or over a whiskey are told here. They are original, insightful and honest.

One man spent his childhood in a Japanese POW camp, another flew the first New Zealand troops into Vietnam, one was sued by David Lange for defamation, another played cricket for New Zealand, one helped save Sir Edmund Hillary on Mt Everest, another lost a child to terrorism in the 2005 London bombings, and one walked away from a horrific plane crash.

While some of the bodies that are exercised at the Atrium Club are those of rich-listers, others are not necessarily well known. Some are born raconteurs, others not. But what is evident from the stories are that the qualities men most value in each other are loyalty, courage and good humour, along with a good dollop of self-effacement.

I think it safe to say that some of the contributors of his anthology possibly enjoy the health benefits of friendship over any unnecessarily vigorous exercise available within their club's walls!
A recommended read on and by some good Kiwi blokes.

Title: Stories men tell: New Zealand men talk about their lives
Author: edited by Neville Aitchison and John Keir

Reviewed by: Suneeta N, Highland Park Library

Suneeta N particularly enjoys biographies, travel stories and reading authors from around the world. She loves a good discussion and believes that everybody has a story worth telling.

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