Mike Riddell is of no significance. He begins life in a working class family in Porirua. Along the way he will live in a commune in the Queensland rainforest, be incarcerated in a Moroccan prison, become a clergyman, strip in front of the Auckland City Council, create a social housing trust, publish novels, write a play, gain a doctorate and produce a classic New Zealand feature film. But mostly his life is a collection of meaningless moments. In Until the End he pushes back against insignificance through a conscious attempt to remember what makes his life a story.


In this work he constantly interrupts his own quest for meaning to reflect on wider issues – what it means to be Pakeha, to inhabit this land, to survive atrocity, to live a small life, to find a vocation, to be a writer. By arguing that all lives are meaningful, he ties his own experience to the struggles of New Zealanders to find their place in a society where fame is the unrequited siren luring us to futility. This is a tale of deep sorrow and joy, told with honesty and painful integrity. Part memoir, part confession, the book engages with the humanity that is both gift and burden to us all.


The twists and turns of one existence invite us into considering our own passages of struggle. Riddell suggests that the audacity to remember is an invitation to manufacture tales that may or may not be true; but remain stories worthy of telling. This is a call back to the importance of the considered life, in an era of triviality and passing time. But at the same time it is more than that. The writing is evocative of the geography, culture, history, and uniqueness of growing up and living as a New Zealander. As one who clings to the edge of the world, the author shares that essential standpoint - an evocative platform from which to evaluate life.

Until the End: Notes from a Small Life