Cover image for Spinners : a novel
Spinners : a novel
McCarten, Anthony, 1961-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [1999]

Physical Description:
263 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Twin Peaks meets Nathaniel Hawthorne in this wildly original debut novel of a New Zealand town turned upside down--first by flying saucer encounters and then the sudden appearance of the mayor's handsome nephew.

Author Notes

Anthony McCarten was born in 1961 in New Zealand. He is a novelist, filmmaker and playwright. He worked as a reporter for a couple of years on The Taranaki Herald before studying for an Arts degree at Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington, where he studied creative writing. McCarten received early international success with his play Ladies Night. In 2001, it won France's premiere theatre award for comedy, the Molière Prize.

McCarten's first novel, Spinners was voted one of the top ten novels of 2000 by Esquire magazine. His third novel, Death Of A Superhero, won the 2008 Austrian Youth Literature Prize and was a finalist for the 2008 German Youth Literature Prize. The sequel novel to this story, "In The Absence Of Heroes" was published in 2012, and was a finalist for the 2013 New Zealand Fiction Prize and was Longlisted for the 2014 Dublin International IMPAC Literary Award. His fourth novel, Show Of Hands was made into a movie and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the New Zealand Film Awards.

In 2015 McCarten was made an Honorary Literary Fellows in the New Zealand Society of Authors' annual Waitangi Day Honours.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The first novel by one of New Zealand's best-known playwrights explores the power of the imagination when confronted with seemingly inexplicable events. After a late night walk, Delia Chapman claims she was abducted by aliens who had sex with her. The town's skepticism--Americans see spacemen, they claim, New Zealanders see ghosts--turns to scorn after word gets out that Delia is pregnant, but disbelief is put to the test when a crushed cow is found in the center of a burned crop circle. Soon two of Delia's friends, also pregnant, also claim alien abductions, and the story becomes a national one, overshadowing the closing of the town's most important factory. Into this strange atmosphere comes Philip Sullivan, the mayor's nephew, recently dishonorably discharged from the army, who has come to town to reopen the public library. It is he who first encounters a confused Delia wandering along the road, and as the outsider, it is he who is destined to uncover the truth. McCarten has wrapped a mystery around contemporary issues and an old-fashioned morality tale in this fine fiction debut. --Frank Caso

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this sprightly, quirky novel about contemporary small-town New Zealand, teenage meat packer Delia Chapman's claim that she has encountered a group of aliens is at first considered temporary insanity because of the stresses of her job. For how else can her story, which gains her instant tabloid fame and the envy of her catty friends, be explained? Things get stranger when Delia realizes she's pregnant, but remembers little more of her extranatural experience than lights and noise. When two of Delia's friends also disclose their pregnancies and likewise blame the spacemen, the town of Opunake begins to buzz with reporters. Delia's problems are compounded by the facts of her life on earth: an abusive father, a mother lost to suicide, an incompetent mechanic boyfriend. Philip Sullivan, the town's new librarian and the book's unlikely hero, is a quiet intellectual with a temper that's recently earned him a dishonorable discharge from the army. McCarten, a well-known New Zealand playwright, filmmaker and short story writer, adeptly describes the snowballing effects of national publicity and town gossip. His fresh dialogue and keen, devilish sense of humor make the facile resolution this novel's only disappointing moment. Author tour. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

One sleepless night after three straight split shifts at Borthwick's Freezing Works, 16-year-old Delia Chapman sneaks out for a bag of hot chips (no vinegar) and sees a spaceman. Actually, ten spacemen. They take her to their vessel, have sex with her ("They do it with heat waves," she explains), and return her to Earth. The citizens of Opunake, New Zealand, don't know what to think. Delia's light-headed factory girlfriends are titillated but not convinced. After all, "Only Americans see spacemen." But when two more girls turn up pregnant, claiming similar "visitations," the rumor mill shifts into high gear. New Zealand playwright McCarten delivers a fun and wacky romp, filled with vivid description and offbeat characters: an inept mayor, the mayor's handsome but wayward nephew, a guilt-ridden tabloid journalist, and a mutant mechanic with a major crush. Recommended for all libraries.‘Christine Perkins, Jackson Cty Lib. Svcs., Medford, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.