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Literature / Stranger Than Fiction: The Life And Times Of Split Enz

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"Larger than Life"
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Stranger Than Fiction, Split Enz

Stranger Than Fiction: The Life And Times Of Split Enz (no relation to the Will Ferrell movie) is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Mike Chunn ('semi' as Chunn left the band before their third album) detailing the life and times of the New Zealand premier New Wave band Split Enz, headed by Tim and Neil Finn. The group was best known for their wildly original music and wildly original appearances (that they only actually wore for the Seventies).

Chronicling their beginnings from an Auckland flat (and even further back in the case of the Finn and Chunn brothers) to their final (non-reunion) concert and even beyond, the original book is now long out of print but with the author's permission can now be read online here.


  • Mental Notes (1975)
  • Second Thoughts (1976)note 
  • Dizzrhythmia (1977)
  • Frenzy (1978)
  • True Colours (1980)
  • Waiata/Corroborree (1981)
  • Time and Tide (1982)
  • Conflicting Emotions (1983)
  • See Ya Round (1984)

Tropes applying to this band:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Gender Inverted with Liz Malam in regards to Tim. Didn't end well though.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Tim Finn actually meeting up with Paul McCartney and ever getting to London itself. The former though was a partial example of Broken Pedestal learning about how musical idols aren't gods, just people.
    • Promoted Fanboy: Neil for Split Enz, even though he surprisingly didn't appear all that enthusiastic about it upon being offered (on the surface anyway).
  • The Band Minus the Face: Subverted, as Neil was just as equally known (if not more) as Tim by the time the latter left, though this feeling definitely permeated the band themselves.
  • Biography: Apart from the obvious example, there was also Tim Finn's "Haul Away".
  • Boarding School: Sacred Heart College in Auckland, though occasionally delving straight into Boarding School of Horrors (especially in Neil's case).
  • Breakup Breakout: Tim Finn with Escapade, odd example as it technically happened while he was still in the band (if not for much longer). Also Neil Finn and Paul Hester with a little thing called Crowded House.
  • Broken Pedestal: Phill Judd to Tim Finn, and the later Tim Finn to Neil to a certain extent. Also Tim and Paul McCartney above, leading Tim to write the song "Famous People".
  • Country Cousin: Tim Finn (technically Neil as well, though it's brought up more often with Tim). Notably lampshaded in the song Maybe, from early in their career:
    "I'm just a country boy/Can you see that I'm still green?"
  • Cultural Cringe: Played straight, then later inverted. Split Enz had to travel overseas in the 1970s and 1980s to make it big. Today, they're fondly remembered as one of NZ's first bands to take on the world.
  • Decoy Protagonist - Mike Chunn (who was only ever a Supporting Protagonist to begin with really) 'splits the enz' early on in chapter nine out of sixteen.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Nathan Brenner's decision to pick a fight with A&M Records and Tommy Mottola was ill-advised, to say the least.
  • Large Ham: Tim Finn on occasion, most of the band in their early videos.
  • The Long List: Mike trying to guess the name of the Enz's fifth album.
  • Lovable Rogue: Neil attempted to adopt this persona for an interview. YMMV on whether it worked, but the results were definitely... odd, to say the least.
  • Magical Realism: Every now and then, mostly courtesy of Mike Chunn's narration (Hence the thing about God).
  • Meaningful Rename: The Enz all adopting their middle names as their stage names, except Phil, which Chunn suggests may have been a sign of his discomfort within the band. Also changing the band's name from 'Ends' to 'Enz' for patriotic reasons.
    • Waiata was meant to be released with the name for "song" in the native tongue in each country. Only Australia adopted this, with the title of the album renamed Corroborree.
  • New Wave: The band steered in this direction with Frenzy, and consolidated it with True Colours.
  • Only Sane Man: Nigel Griggs' (Mike Chunn's replacement) first reaction upon meeting the band (due to not being completely informed), though he adjusted.
  • Precision F-Strike: Didn't pop up in their music, but not unknown to the band members themselves.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The winner of the (otherwise a total failure) look-alike contest, in Chunn's own words "He looked more like me than me".
  • The Smurfette Principle: Raewyn Turner (resident lighting expert) to the rest of the band. Later joined by Liz and Sharon, though none of them were technically members of the core band.
  • Stalker with a Crush
  • Starving Artist: The Enz quickly fell into this after first coming to Australia.
  • Teens Are Monsters: How the Enz felt after their first two performances up against teenagers (their third performance thankfully went over much better). The Finn brothers themselves back in the day.
  • That's All, Folks!: See Ya Round was clearly intended as a send-off for the band, after Tim Finn's departure.

Writing letters to my friends, tell them all about Split Ends...

Alternative Title(s): Split Enz