Beattie's Book Blog - unofficial homepage of the New Zealand book community
Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Acclaimed cartoonist Dylan Horrocks returns with a long-awaited
new graphic novel, the first since his perennial classic, 1998’s Hicksville
(new edition, VUP 2010). And it is bloody wonderful, a work of genius and well worth the wait !
Cartoonist Sam Zabel hasn’t drawn a comic in years. Stuck in a
nightmare of creative block and despair, Sam spends his days writing superhero
stories for a large American comics publisher and staring at a blank piece of
paper, unable to draw a single line. Then one day he finds a mysterious old
comic book set on Mars and is suddenly thrown headlong into a wild, fantastic
journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds. Accompanied
by a young webcomic creator named Alice and an enigmatic schoolgirl with rocket
boots and a bag full of comics, Sam goes in search of the Magic Pen,
encountering sex-crazed aliens, medieval monks, pirates, pixies and—of
course—cartoonists. Funny, erotic, and thoughtful, Sam Zabel and the Magic
Pen explores the pleasures, dangers, and moral consequences of
208 pages, full colour throughout, 190x268mm - Victoria University Press - $35.00
Enthusiasm from a top international graphic artist:
‘Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen is a tour de force. There’s something very pure about Dylan
Horrocks’ comics. That’s perhaps an odd word to describe this book which is so
much about desire. But Horrocks’ line and his imagination both seem to flow
freely and directly from some primal source. If you’ve ever wished that Hergé
had written comics for grown-ups—gorgeously drawn and playful adventures that
explore the serious anxieties of midlife—your wish has come true, and then
About the author:
Dylan Horrocks (left - self portrait) was born in 1966 and lives in New Zealand. He is
the author of the modern classic Hicksville (1998; new edition VUP
2010), and has written for DC Comics, including Hunter: The Age of Magic
Michael Cooper has just announced his Best White Wine Buy of the Year and Best Red Wine Buy of the Year awards, a highlight of his annual, best-selling New Zealand Wines 2015: Michael Cooper's Buyer's Guide, now in its 23rd edition.
New Zealand Wines 2015: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide (which goes on sale today, RRP $39.99- Upstart Press), is essential reading for those who want objective information on the huge 2014 vintage. With totally independent, unbiased ratings and tasting notes on over 3000 New Zealand wines, the book is used by thousands of wine consumers and wine professionals around the world.
This year’s Best White Wine Buy of the Year is Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Viognier 2014 (****1/2, $19.95). Cooper praises it as “full-bodied, fleshy, rich and dry, with strong, ripe stone-fruit flavours and complexity from fermentation in French oak barrels. It’s the sort of wine for which you could easily pay well over $30.” A few weeks after Michael selected the wine, it won a gold medal and trophy for Champion Commercial White Wine of the Show at the Hawke's Bay A & P Bayleys Wine Awards 2014.
Brancott Estate Hawke's Bay Merlot 2013 (****, $17) has scooped the Best Red Wine Buy of the Year award. Says Cooper: “If you are looking for a delicious, flavour-packed red that slips down easily and is highly affordable (when it’s on promotion, you can pick it up for less than $15), look no further.” Cuisine recently gave it ****1/2, praising it as “an outstanding buy”, and it collected a gold medal at the New Zealand International Wine Show 2014.
New Zealand Wine 2015: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide goes on sale today, Monday November 24, and the book’s full contents are also available online to members of Michael’s website, www.michaelcooper.co.nz
new, updated edition of a popular Canterbury walking and tramping guide has
been published this month by Canterbury University Press (CUP).
Canterbury Foothills & Forests: A Walking and Tramping Guide, first published
in 2002 by Shoal Bay Press, has been update by author Pat Barrett. The book
explores new walking excursions in the greater Canterbury region, Lewis Pass
National Reserve and Arthur’s Pass in addition to the areas included in the
Areas of the Te Kahui Kaupeka and Hakatere Conservation parks, which are now
accessible to the public, are also included.
“There is a huge amount of new conservation land available for the public to
explore now and also many new access ways to existing lands that were not in
the old book,” says author Pat Barrett.
As well as providing walks for families with children, there are harder trips
for those who aspire to the challenge of a climb and views gained from the tops
of some of the higher summits.
“The book is a great asset for the outdoor user, be they first-timers,
families, individuals or those who know the area well. It brings it all into
grasp in one handy volume,” says Pat Barrett.
The walks and guides are organised by region and the book includes advice for
planning a trip around the regions of Canterbury. There is background on
landscape and climate, flora and fauna and a brief history of the Canterbury
The handy-sized guide is illustrated with the author's inspiring photographs
and includes 17 new full-colour maps.
“I hope that the walks and climbs will provide inspiration and incentive for
people to get up and go visit our wonderful mountain heritage – it is just
waiting to be explored.
“This book should be on every Cantabrians bookshelf, especially
post-earthquake, as we have so much to celebrate about living in Canterbury.
It’s a fantastic place with so much outdoor opportunity. This book can make
About the author:
Pat Barrett is a keen outdoors-man who began his forays into the hills in the
Tararuas, north of Wellington. He has been a regular contributor to NZ
Wilderness magazine since 1993, as well as to The Press and The
He is the author of six walking and tramping guides. Mr
Barrett lives in Christchurch with his wife Christine and their three children,
and enjoys regular trips to the outdoors with them.
Unqualified people able to practice as social workers.
How health systems can best deal with musculoskeletal pain as the population ages.
NZ company wins major US award for phone app to help manage depression.
Africa correspondent Debora Patta.
Pixar studio co-founder Alvy Ray Smith, behind movies like Toy Story and Monsters Inc, on the computer graphics revolution in film.
Book review: “Revolution” – the political manifesto by comedian and actor Russell Brand, reviewed by Charlotte Graham.
Reading: "Carnival Sky", written by Owen Marshall, and read by Adam Gardener (Part 1 of 10).
Politics from the right and the left with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams.
Korean street food recipes with stall owner Eunmi Kang from Miss Kangsta in Wellington. She brings us recipes for Jeyuk (Marinated Spicy BBQ Pork with Kimchi) and Bulgogi (Marinated BBQ Beef).
Urbanist Tommy Honey discusses technology in the classroom.
Alvy Ray Smith is one of the pioneers of the computer graphics industry. His work with computers started with the very birth of the personal computer in the 1960s, and the development of the computer graphics tools which revolutionised the way we watch films. He directed the first computer graphics sequence in a motion picture, the Genesis sequence from Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan in 1982, and went on to found Pixar with Ed Catmull. He talks to Kathryn Ryan about his career and what the future holds for CGI.
Tuesday 25 November
News and current events.
An expert on the resettlement and reintegration of prisoners into the community.
US correspondent Luiza Savage.
Shami Chakrabarti - the civil rights campaigner who The Sun newspaper described as the most dangerous woman in Britain.
Book review: “The Petticoat Men”, by Barbara Ewing, reviewed by Anne Else.
Reading: "Carnival Sky", written by Owen Marshall, and read by Adam Gardener (Part 2 of 10).
Business commentator Rod Oram.
Helen Leach charts the kitchen revolution decade by decade in her new book, “Kitchens: the New Zealand Kitchen in the 20th Century”.
Media commentator Gavin Ellis
Wednesday 26 November
News and current events.
Australia commentator Bernard Keane.
Founder of the Internet Archive Brewster Kahle on his quest to make all human knowledge universally available.
Book review: “The Woman Who Stole My Life”, by Marian Keyes, reviewed by Elisabeth Easther.
Reading: "Carnival Sky", written by Owen Marshall, and read by Adam Gardener (Part 3 of 10).
Marty Duda features the music of his artist of the week.
Legal commentator Peter Boshier on domestic violence laws.
Science commentator Siouxsie Wiles.
Brewster Kahle is an American computer engineer, Internet entrepreneur, internet activist, advocate of universal access to all knowledge, and digital librarian. He is the founder of the Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library that provides free public access to collections of digitised materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly three million public-domain books.
Thursday 27 November
News and current events.
UK correspondent Dame Ann Leslie.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Judy Melinek.
Book review: “The Silk Thief”, by Deborah Challinor, reviewed by Rae McGregor.
Reading: "Carnival Sky", written by Owen Marshall, and read by Adam Gardener (Part 4 of 10).
New technology commentator Erika Pearson.
Parenting commentator John Cowan on sibling rivalry.
TV reviewer Hayden Green.
Friday 28 November
News and current events.
International expert on sexting, sexualisation and sexism.
Pacific correspondent Mike Field.
Neuro-economist Paul Zak on the biological basis for trust and morality.
Book review: John McIntyre from The Children’s Bookshop.
Reading: "Carnival Sky", written by Owen Marshall, and read by Adam Gardener (Part 5 of 10).
Grant Smithies reviews new music.
Sports commentator Brendan Telfer.
Comedians Te Radar and Gemma Gracewood take a comedic look at the week that was.
Separated from his wife Lucy, immersed in his journalistic career and lost in his own grief for his baby daughter Charlotte, Sheff has become distant from his family. Yet, with encouragement from his sister Georgie, he joins her to return to Alexandra to support his parents. Although he is initially reluctant to assume the role of a dutiful son, Sheff finds this quiet time spent with his dying father, Warwick, brings an unexpected closeness and an acceptance of where he is in his own life.
Somewhere in the middle of Ali Smith’s delightfully fizzy novel How To Be Both (Hamish Hamilton, £16.99), the teenage protagonist interrupts her viewing of a film to “howl out loud like a wolf at its crapness”. I’ve identified strongly with this passage while compiling this list of 2014’s fiction, particularly when it came to some of the bigger names. I yelped at the Dickens-aping opening to Ian McEwan’s The Children Act(Cape, £16.99): “London. Trinity term one week old. Implacable June weather.” I yodelled at Richard Flanagan’s fervently written Booker winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto, £16), especially when a sex scene in the dunes was cut short by this Yeatsian apparition of a dog: “Above blood-jagged drool, its slobbery mouth clutched a twitching fairy penguin.” I moaned throughout David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks(Sceptre, £20), in which Matrix-esque immortal warriors take over the bodies of a Seventies schoolgirl and a yah on a skiing holiday, crescendoing at lines like: “Incorporeally, I pour psychovoltage into a neurobolas and kinetic it through the hole.” By the time I got to Martin Amis’s The Zone of Interest (Cape, £18.99), a Nazi bureaucratic satire apparently convinced that what the concentration camp novel needed was more camp (“I mean, a lorry full of starved corpses. All a bit gauche and provincial, don’t you think?”) I could only manage quiet despairing yowls. All these bestselling novels got five-star reviews elsewhere. Consider this a warning. More
Fiona McIntosh was born in England, spent her childhood in West Africa and lives in Adelaide but prefers to write in the solitude of southern Tasmania. After a career in the travel industry, she writes full-time. Nightingale, her 28th novel for adults, is published by Michael Joseph.
There has never been a criminal trial like it. From the moment Oscar Pistorius, the sci-fi athlete, shot and killed his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on the morning of Valentine’s Day in 2013, it became irresistible rolling news. For the first time in South African history, a trial would be shown, from opening statements to verdict, on live TV. A cable channel soon offered 24-hour coverage and analysis. And, unlike the OJ Simpson case in 1995, social media stepped in with round-the-clock bloviating by everyone from experts to Donald Trump. June Steenkamp, Reeva’s mother, remembers that as Pistorius took the witness stand there was rapt silence in the courtroom; the only sound was journalists tapping on their screens.Tim Lewis weighs up the evidence from three accounts of a gripping trial
Hephzibah Anderson is a freelance journalist and critic who contributes to Prospect, the New Statesman, the Guardian and Haaretz, among other publications..
(Philomel/Macmillan/Harry N Abrams/Harper Collins)
Adults often find surprising subtexts in children’s literature – but are they really there? Hephzibah Anderson delves into the world of Freud and fairy tales.
Long after losing track of the book and forgetting its title, I found myself in Edinburgh to interview Alexander McCall Smith. He was already the mega-selling author of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, but years earlier, he had published a few children’s books. There among them on a shelf was The Perfect Hamburger. More
Penguin Random House will “nurture, protect and champion” Sue
Townsend’s work for years to come, c.e.o. Tom Weldon has said. Speaking at an event to celebrate the late writer’s life and
work at The British Library, Weldon made the promise to Townsend’s family,
who were in attendance. He also said Townsend would “be seen as one of the great comic
writers this country has produced”. “Sue was a passionate egalitarian,” Weldon said, “and she
believed everyone had an equal right to an education and access to books
Penguin Random House’s Ladybird imprint will no longer publish
books labelled “for boys” and “for girls”, in response to a campaign by Let
Toys Be Toys. Ladybird has previously published books such as Ladybird Favourite Fairy Tales for
Girls and Ladybird
Favourite Stories for Boys. The Let Toys Be Toys campaign launched Let Books Be Books earlier this year to encourage
publishers to stop labelling books for a certain gender.
A parliamentary debate on libraries descended into
"personal attacks" between libraries minister Ed Vaizey and
shadow communities and local government minister Lyn Brown. Speaking at a Westminster Hall debate on public libraries yesterday
(19th December), Brown, a Labour MP for West Ham, questioned Vaizey's lack
of intervention into local councils' plans to close multiple libraries
across the UK.
Bloomsbury UK and Walker Books are among the 20 most
influential international children's publishers in China, according to data
released at the Shanghai Children’s Book Fair (CCBF). According to book data company Bookdao, which compiled the
ranking, Scholastic USA is the most influential foreign publisher, followed
by Penguin Random House USA in second position and Casterman, the Belgian
publisher of Tintin, in third. Bloomsbury UK was the highest ranking
UK-based publisher, coming in at fourth position, and Walker Books UK came
in at number 19.
Penguin Random House Children’s is to create a new PR director
role for the whole division, following the departure of Adele Minchin. The PR director will oversee PR across the division, which was
created earlier this year, leading campaigns across both Penguin and Random
House. Graham Sim, Penguin Random House’s brand director, said: “Our
wonderful children’s authors and brands face increasing competition from
general media and entertainment brands, so we are looking for a PR expert
to guide our brilliant teams and continue to grow our unrivalled portfolio.
Elif Shafak’s novels resemble maps that use detailed keys to help readers to journey through them, so it’s not surprising that her latest book is about the building of an ancient city. The Architect’s Apprentice describes how Istanbul blossomed in the 16th century under its most revered architect, Mimar Sinan, who served three Ottoman emperors over 50 years. Each Sultan’s reign produced a cluster of mosques envisioned and executed by Sinan, many of which still exist today. Narrated by Sinan’s fictional disciple, this is, at its core, a story about a master and his student. Shafak recreates ancient Turkey with practised flair. Her 2010 novel The Forty Rules of Love is set partially in 13th century Konya, and her 2007 novel The Bastard of Istanbul mourns the victims of the Armenian genocide of 1915. This time she blends historical fiction, urban politics and youthful curiosity in an elaborate map of Turkey whose key is the book itself. More
A book published to acclaim in New Zealand
ten years ago has just won a major award abroad.
The Afrikaans translation of New
Zealand/South African author Zirk van den Berg’s Nobody Dies has
won the film category of the inaugural kykNET-Rapport book awards in South
Africa. This prize is given to the novel or non-fiction work with the best film
potential that appeared in Afrikaans in the preceding year.
Winners were announced at an awards
ceremony in Cape Town on 21 November 2014.
The kykNET-Rapport book awards are the
premier book awards in Afrikaans, the native language of more than 7 million
people, who live mainly in South Africa. (New Zealand has some 27,000 Afrikaans
speakers.) The competition offers a total prize money of 500,000 rand ($57,000)
in three categories: literary fiction, non-fiction and book with most film
potential. The Afrikaans language pay TV channel kykNET is one of the principal
sponsors, along with the market-leading
Afrikaans Sunday newspaper, Rapport.
When Nobody Dies was
published by Random House NZ in 2004, the book attracted positive reviews,
with The New Zealand Herald naming it one of the top five thrillers
of the year, while the New Zealand Listener headlined their
review “Is Zirk van den Berg the best thriller writer in New Zealand?” Zirk now
owns the rights and it has been published as an ebook through Say Books.
Then two years ago, a South African
publisher who had read the book approached the author with the suggestion to
translate it into Afrikaans. Van den Berg, who wrote his first two books in
Afrikaans, translated his own novel and Nobody Dies was published in
South Africa last year under the title ’n Ander Mens – meaning
“another human” or “a different person”.
“Having the book published again was a real
surprise,” said Van den Berg. “And it was a massive surprise and honour when I
heard I was a finalist in this competition, especially given the reputation of
other authors on the list. To then hear that the book has won is just wonderful.”
* The English version of Nobody Dies is
currently available as an ebook through online
bookstores and from the Say Books website.
** Van den Berg’s latest novel Half of One Thing, about a Kiwi soldier
in the Boer War, was published by Penguin South Africa earlier this year, and
has just become available in New Zealand bookshops.