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James Ronald Hugh Morrieson Biography

(1922–72), The Scarecrow, Came a Hot Friday, Predicament, Pallet on the Floor

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Edgar Mittelholzer Biography to Mr Norris Changes Trains

New Zealand novelist and short-story writer, born and lived all his life in the small North Island town of Hawera where he was a music teacher. His first novel, The Scarecrow (1963), a blackly comic thriller heavily influenced by cinema, and Came a Hot Friday (1964) were the only novels to appear in his lifetime; two others, Predicament (1974) and Pallet on the Floor (1976), were published posthumously. The vulgarity of Morrieson's work, which initially alienated New Zealand critics and audiences, was reassessed in Peter Simpson's monograph on Morrieson (1982) which explains the crudely drawn ‘black’ characters in, for instance, The Scarecrow as a manifestation of the young narrator's fears about sexuality and ‘adult life’. Other critics have characterized Morrieson's work as delightfully voyeuristic and perverse.

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