The carnival of November fantasy

It’s fantasy newsletter time again and this time as well as the new titles there is a focus on carnivals and circuses.

Cover of Shifting Shadows Cover of The Beautiful Ashes Cover of The Hawley Book of the Dead Cover of Hang Wire Cover of The Shifting Price of Prey Cover of Carnival of Souls

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Christchurch Arts Festival: Circus Oz

Circus Oz has a five-day season at the CAF and anyone who is interested in just what the human body can do, in having a laugh and a gasp and an all-round good time should see them.

They began 30 years ago in Melbourne’s Carlton, that home of all that is cool, as a collective of people interested in using the traditions of the circus and its universal appeal to bring a political message to audiences who might not go to conventional performances.

Since then the show has evolved as performers came and went and as they performed it all around the world as well as to detainees in refugee camps in Australia. In typically Australian fashion they don’t take themselves too seriously and there’s more than a touch of the larrikin but they are very good at what they do.

It’s diverse, iconoclastic, fast moving and spectacular, with great music and good jokes. It looks effortless but isn’t and it is a million miles away from the sad old moth-eaten animal type of circus that thankfully seems to have disappeared, without being soulessly proficient like some modern circuses.

For those who find their interest piqued by the amazing skills displayed by the Circus Oz performers there are some interesting books on circuses and those who perform in them.

Dreams of the solo trapeze is a look behind-the-scenes at the Cirque du Soleil, although interestingly the author was not allowed to speak to the performers officially.  Circus bodies is a look at 140 years of years of high-wire acrobatics and how the bodies used for it present different cultural identities. Circus life is a book of fascinating photographs of circus performers from all around the world. And for those who want to give it a go themselves with no thought of possible danger, there is Back handsprings, full of the secret techniques necessary to become an expert tumbler.