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Part memoir, part essay collection, Megan Dunn’s ingenious, moving, hilariously personal Things I Learned at Art School tells the story of her early life and coming-of-age in New Zealand in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

From her single mother's love life to her Smurf collection, from the mean girls at school to the mermaid movie Splash, from her work in strip clubs and massage parlours (and one steak restaurant) to the art school of the title, this is a dazzling, killer read from a contemporary voice of comic brilliance.

Chapters include (but are not limited to): The Ballad of Western Barbie; A Comprehensive List of All the Girls Who Teased Me at Western Heights High School, What They Looked Like and Why They Did It; On Being a Redhead; Life Begins at Forty: That Time My Uncle Killed Himself; Good Girls Write Memoirs, Bad Girls Don’t Have Time; Videos I Watched with My Father; Things I Learned at Art School; CV of a Fat Waitress; Nine Months in a Massage Parlour Called Belle de Jour; Various Uses for a Low Self-esteem; Art in the Waiting Room and Submerging Artist.

  • Published: 17 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780143774853
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352


Megan Dunn (BFA, MA Creative Writing, University of East Anglia) is the author of Tinderbox (2017) and a reformed video artist. In the late nineties, she ran Fiat Lux, an artist run space in Auckland. Her art reviews and criticism have been widely published along with her essays and stories, including in Tell You What: Great New Zealand Non-Fiction (2016, AUP) and Roads Ahead (2009, Tindal St Press). In 2006, she won an Escalator award from the New Writing Partnership (now the National Centre for Writing). In 2018 she was the recipient of the Louis Johnson New Writers Award, and the Surrey Hotel Steve Braunias Memorial Writers Residency Award. In 2019, she was the art editor for The Spinoff. In 2020 she received an Emerging Writers Residency at the Michael King Writers Centre, where she worked on her next book of creative non-fiction. (That’s this one.)