Things I Learned At Art School

Cover: Yvonne Todd. 2021.

I have a new book out and available right now! It was meant to a searing expose about the rise of professional mermaids, tracing the lineage of these new freelancer performers back to Ron Howard’s 1984 Box Office hit Splash. What went wrong? Me. My publisher said the mermaid book was terrible but she liked all the bits about me. That’s how I went from writing a book about mermaids to writing a memoir about me, Megan Dunn. True story.


From the writer who brought you Tinderbox, a book about a woman trying to write a book, comes Things I Learned at Art School, a memoir by a woman who has never kept a diary.

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 parents’ split-up 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.


Things I Learned at Art School is well reviewed by David McCooey for Sydney Review of Books here. Review is titled ‘Of Smurfs and Men’ so McCooey already understands my territory in a singular way!

Things I Learned at Art School makes Newsroom’s Top 10 Non-Fiction Books for 2021.

Things I Learned at Art School gets a plug on Your Weekend’s Best Books of 2021 here.

Things I Learned at Art School gets another plug on Viva’s Book Club: Best Summer Reads 2021 here.

For Viva I wrote about 6 books I highly recommend here.

Read Good Girls Write Memoirs, Bad Girls Make Art, a feature article on me by Dr Lana Lopesi for Metro here.

Listen to my RNZ Saturday morning interview on Things I Learned at Art School with Colin Peacock here.

Listen to my RNZ Saturday morning interview about Art in the Waiting Room, and art in hospitals with Kim Hill here.

Listen to my Book Enz interview with Morrin Rout on Plains FM here.

Listen to my interview with Theo Macdonald on Artbank here.

For those who can sneak behind the paywall my Canvas interview with Eleanor Black is here.

Me and artist Yvonne Todd did a Zoom Book Launch, shooting the shit about the 90s, art and life with pics. Find it here, courtesy of Time Out Books.

My interview in Fashion Quarterly with bonus vintage photo of me in Showgirls uniform is here.

On the Guardian read an extract from my essay Nine Months in a Massage Parlour called Belle Du Jour.

On The Spinoff read my short essay about author Jean M Auel’s bestselling Clan of the Cave Bear series here.

On Ensemble find my short missive On Being a Redhead.

On New Writing, the UEA alumni website, read my essay The Difficult Father, this one is especially for Donald Barthelme fans.

On Newsroom find one of my fav essays Sorry, Mother!

On Kete read my opening chapter/essay An Eighties Prayer here.

On Kete read a review of Things I Learned at Art School here. Described as, “…reflective, hilarious and discordant.” And also as, “great reading.”

On Stuff find me discuss my writing process and being a judge for the Sunday Star Times short story competition. Read here.

On Ensemble I tell you My 5 Writing Rules.

A Few of my Favourite Things…all listed in soundbites here.

Christchurch City Libraries gave my book cover a huge vote of confidence on this informative blog here.

The wonderful Pip Adam reviews Things I Learned at Art School on RNZ here. (at approx: 4.53m)

The wonderful Jenna Todd reviews Things I Learned at Art School on Loose Reads at BFM here.

The wonderful Airini Beautrais reviews Things I Learned at Art School on RNZ’s Nine to Noon here.

VicBooks did a great little interview with me here.

Unity Books Auckland did a short online interview with me here.

Good Books in Wellington did a short online interview with me here.

On ANZ Literature Sally Blundell reviews Things I Learned at Art School here.

Fine a substantial review by Philip Matthews on Newsroom here.

Find a in depth review on Alyson’s Blog here.

Find another lovely review on States of Sophie here.

In print:

In issue 432 of Metro Magazine, Lana Lopesi wrote a great feature on Things I Learned at Art School (she calls the book “simply brilliant”) which delves into my life and art writing with pics from the 1990s. Buy the issue online here.

In The NZ Listener (issue 23 August 2021) Paula Morris reviewed Things I Learned at Art School. (She says, “Dunn brings a buoyant iconoclasm to her creative non-fiction…” ) Buy the issue here.