Hello Darkness

‘Wry, acute and confessional but, most of all wise.’ WINNER OF BEST PERSONAL ESSAY, VOYAGER MEDIA AWARDS 2018

In late 2017, acclaimed writer Peter Wells was rushed into hospital with aggressive prostate cancer. He began a year of chemotherapy, radiation and hormone treatment. Grappling with the ‘new normal’ of living with a terminal diagnosis, Peter reached for his Iphone while in hospital and, often in the lonely hours between midnight and dawn, began posting raw, visceral, searchingly honest posts. The posts went viral and were picked up by The Spinoff and became known as ‘Hello Darkness.’ This book is the result, increased in depth, full of colour photos and a contextualising Foreword and Afterword.

“I think you could say all my writing is a personal memoir project; by looking into myself I hope you see a vision of New Zealand returned, clarified and deepened by thought. Born mid-century, gay and articulate, I have lived through the AIDS crisis and the huge changes that have occurred in 21st century Aotearoa. Recently, I married my partner Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, something my childhood self finds very hard to actually believe. All my writing is in some senses the song of a survivor. So though this particular book is on one level about living with cancer, it is more profoundly a book about taking stock of a life, looking back to what matters to me, but also forward, towards coming to terms with what remains of my life.”

“You could say I look intensely at life and death, I’ve been forced to.” Steve Braunias described Hello Darkness as the book for anyone who wonders how they will respond when the end is near; then he caps it off with this fiery quote: ‘He stares into the abyss and throws everything at it in an agony of suffering, yet laughs at himself and calmly assessed his darkest hour.’

This is a book about far more than cancer. It is an intensely searching look at life.
PETER WELLS is notable for his commitment to social change, whether writing one of the earliest pieces of gay fiction in which a NZ author published under his own name, or writing and directing the documentary ‘The Mighty Civic’ which helped stop the demolition of Auckland’s Civic Theatre. In 1987 he became the subject of a scandal and was called The Man Who Shocked the Nation. In 1998, along with Stephanie Johnson, he founded the phenomenally successful Auckland Writers Festival. He is an award-winning author and filmmaker and was awarded Member of the Order of New Zealand for services to film and literature.

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