A Sharp Intake of Breath: A Novel

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Miller succeeds admirably in shaping a serious, imaginative novel about the jagged, often fractured, path taken for the sake of a worthy life.

Swift rejects criticism that work copies another

A Sharp Intake of Breath more than satisfies. At once a profile of courage and resolution, a family history, a mystery and a social commentary, it reveals Miller as an impressive storyteller; one wonders what he'll do next.


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Toshy is both sympathetic and likable. His story shows that actions can have far-reaching consequences that we can't even imagine, and yet, at the same time, it is ultimately possible to escape the prison of memory and regret.

Miller is at his best and most empathetic when he gets inside Toshy's head and explores his protagonist's experience as an outsider. John Miller's first novel, The Featherbed , received stellar reviews and earned a devoted readership upon its release in Besides novels, Miller has written on culture and politics, and in his spare time he provides consulting services to local and international non-profit organizations and governments.

He lives in Toronto. British Journal of Canadian Studies January, The Lethbridge Herald March, The Vancouver Sun March, The Edmonton Journal April, Quill and Quire January, January, The Star Phoenix August, The National Post July, Winnipeg Free Press January, Grimshaw only began writing short fiction after publishing three novels, when a commission sparked a pair of stories on the same theme and she hit on the idea of writing a set of linked short stories.

She found she enjoyed the discipline of the shorter form and put together a collection of bleak fragments of Auckland life, Opportunity, knitted together by recurring characters and incidents, all narrated in the first person. The first-person narration was a deliberate choice, partly to explore the idea of different points of view and partly to give a sense of New Zealand voices.

Born in Auckland in , Grimshaw worked as a lawyer — first for a small practice with a number of clients facing murder charges, then for a big commercial law firm. She was fascinated by criminal law, partly because there's so much at stake, she says, but also because "it's all about a human situation, a human drama, always a human tragedy.

If you're someone who wants to write, that's a very rich store of data. Late in the evenings, with the children in bed, she began work on a novel — and discovered a curious liberation in the distance from her homeland.

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The distance made it vivid. Provocation was published in , with a lurid purple cover and a tagline describing it as "a thriller of passion, prejudice and betrayal", a marketing decision that Grimshaw resisted. The story of a young, female lawyer who is working for and sleeping with a successful lawyer acting for a number of clients facing murder charges, Provocation's firecracker plot and easy familiarity with the complications of a murder trial cannot disguise the fact that the author's interest is elsewhere.

Grimshaw's third novel, Foreign City, marked the beginning of a brief period of formal experimentation which reached its apogee in the Auckland polyphony of Opportunity. Split into three parts, based in London, Auckland and a fictional metropolis, Foreign City is held together by another fictional writer.

John Miller

She followed it up with Singularity, which returns to the same fictional Auckland, with some of the same characters threading through both collections. The stories are more tightly bound together this time, each one cast in the same spare, third-person narration.

According to Grimshaw it's the same spirit of experimentation, the same fascination with the way fiction is put together, that explains why she returns to the subject of writing and writers again and again. She's puzzled by the idea that the gap between fiction and reality might be something of a raw nerve for her, an itch she needs to scratch, but when I suggest that it might have something to do with her father — the distinguished New Zealand poet, critic and novelist CK Stead — she suddenly realises what I've been driving at.

When she married, she chose to take her husband's name, despite its Dickensian glumness, so that she could make her own way as a writer, rather than following in her father's footsteps. I've grown up with that particular problem, so I'm trying to nut it out the whole time.


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