Meridee Bang is a perky kid elbowed by a throng of brothers and sisters inside a tiny house in one of the wrong suburbs of Christchurch. Nothing in her life comes easy. Wally her dad, known for poor puns, works at a plastics factory. Gwendolyn her mum, feckless, fierce and funny, broods in her kitchen or lashes out at the kids. The kids swap jokes and smart talk while crowding one of a row of standardised bungalows. Vinyl. Chrome. Acrylic. Meridee hopes that one day she will be rich and pretty like the heroines of 'The Patty Duke Show' or 'The Sound of Music.'
As Meridee dances the frug through the swinging sixties, stalks on stacked heels through the seventies and goes for glam in the early eighties, she uses every weapon she can to find the life she wants. But are cleverness, pluck and ambition enough to break free from greasy-walled Olivine Street?
Bangs is the fourth novel in Stevan Eldred-Grigg’s well-loved and much-acclaimed Oracles and Miracles series, which together with its companion novels Mum and The Shining City have given life to five generations of the people of Christchurch and Canterbury.
Stephanie Johnson: 'Bangs is confessional, sad, true, lit with gallows humour and could only have been written in New Zealand.'
John McCrystal: 'Gwendolyn is a superbly drawn character … few Kiwi novels can claim to have been underpinned by such a mastery of New Zealand social history.'
Penguin (NZ), Auckland 2013