ARTicle Magazine

This reading life: Chris Tse

11 October 2017

Chris is a poet and occasional food blogger based in Wellington. He is the author of How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, which won the 2016 Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry. 

Chris Tse

image credit: Rebecca McMillan

Chris' second book will be published by AUP in early 2018. He will be part of Writers and Readers at New Zealand Festival in March. 

The first book to capture my imagination was ...
One of my most beloved books as a child was an omnibus of spy stories and tricks of the trade. The book was falling apart and held together by lots of sellotape. Most of my childhood make-believe involved being a spy.

The books or other writing that saw me through childhood were ...
Lots of Road Dahl, RL Stine and Christopher Pike. I was also really into mystery and puzzle books like the Encyclopedia Brown series and Usborne puzzle adventure books.

The character in a book I most wanted to be as a child was ...
Encyclopedia Brown.

Encyclopedia Brown

Encyclopedia Brown

The book I studied at school that has stayed with me most is ...
The Handsmaid’s Tale in 7th Form. It kick-started my love of Margaret Atwood.

Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

The author I am most likely to binge-read is ...
At the moment, George Saunders. In the past, David Sedaris. Coincidentally, they’re both writers who can make me laugh so hard I have to put the book down.

The book I am most likely to press on a friend is ...
Richard Siken’s Crush.



The book I most wish someone would write is ...
I’m a fan of the 33⅓ series of books about classic albums, and I wish they’d get someone to tackle Ace of Base’s Happy Nation or Mandy Moore’s 2001 self-titled album.

The book I keep meaning to get around to reading but somehow never do is ...
I bought Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap many years ago after seeing the film Head On and then reading Tsiolkas’s Loaded, on which it’s based. When they announced the Australian TV adaptation of The Slap I moved it to the top of my to-read pile but never got around to it. Then they announced the US adaptation and I thought, “This time!” Nope. Still haven’t seen the two TV series either.

The Slap

The Slap

The book I have reread the most is ...
I’m not much of a re-reader nowadays, but there were plenty of RL Stine and Christopher Pike books that I read multiple times as a kid.

The newspapers, magazines and blogs I can't do without are ...

Hello Mr. for a great mix of writing, art and fashion, Mimicry and Starling for cool new New Zealand writing, and Serious Eats for setting off all my food-related dreams.

If I were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with me, it would be ...

Maybe it should be The Slap so I get it over and done with.

Bookmark, scrap of paper or turning down the corner of the page?
Bookmark – usually one from a bookshop or a boarding pass.

The first 50 pages or bust? Or always to the bitter end?
Always to the bitter end, even if it takes me months to muddle my way through. I can’t stand leaving books and films unfinished, which has probably carved precious years off my life – *shrug*.

The book I am always on the lookout for in second-hand shops is ...
Care and Share: A Book About Manners. If my brother and I ever come to blows over anything in my parents’ will, it’ll be over who gets this favourite book from our childhood. 

My favourite cinematic adaptation of a book is ...
10 Things I Hate About You. Don’t @  me.

The character in a book I'd most like to meet is ...
Even though I might have to face some stupid, stupid rat creatures and get caught up in a war between good and evil, I’d like to hang out with the Bone cousins from Jeff Smith’s epic comic series, Bone.

"Even though I might have to face some stupid, stupid rat creatures and get caught up in a war between good and evil, I’d like to hang out with the Bone cousins from Jeff Smith’s epic comic series, Bone."

A line of writing I can recite from memory is ...
“When 95 friends come over to play, and they all want to swing and they all want to stay …” (see question 14 above).

My favourite 19th-century book is …
This is like asking me to name my favourite repressed memory as an English literature undergrad.

My favourite 20th-century book is ...
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver. When I was looking for this in a bookshop, the sales attendant suggested I look in the self-help section.

What we talk about when we talk about love

What we talk about when we talk about love

My favourite contemporary writers are ...
In addition to all the writers I’ve already named, I’ll also mention Louise Wallace, Hera Lindsay Bird, Michael Robbins and Miranda July.

The book/s currently by the side of my bed is/are ..
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, Maggie Nelson’s Bluets and Rhydian Thomas’ Milk Island.


Milk Island