Friday, November 30, 2007


Barry Gustafson Auckland University Press NZ$60

Keith Holyoake seemed to be around for much of the first part of my working life, he was Prime Minister right through the 60’s into the 70’s and then in the late 70’s he was Governor General. He was a man with a remarkable memory for names which I saw evidence of on both occasions I met him during my bookselling days in Napier. He was also, along with his deputy and successor Jack Marshall, the last of the gentlemen Prime Ministers. Although he came across in the media as something of a pompous ass in fact when you met him he wasn’t like that at all.

This substantial new title, launched last week by one of Kiwi Keith’s later successors as Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, is a superb work of biography as one would expect from an experienced biographer and former political scientist Barry Gustafson. Gustafson has now written three biographies of Prime Ministers and they are I suggest three of the most influential New Zealand PM’s of the second half of the 20th century – Michael Joseph Savage, Robert Muldoon, and now Keith Holyoake….. he also has several political histories to his credit.

This is an important, significant book with loads of interesting photographs, (lots of nostalgia), very extensive author notes and as you would expect from a scholar and a university press a detailed bibliography and full index. And you’ll learn some quite surprising things about dear old Kiwi Keith.

Photo credit:EP-1977-4351, PACOLL-7327, Dom Post Collection, ATL.
What a delightful shot.

IN THE FRAME – HELEN MIRREN - My Life in Words and Pictures
Weidenfeld & Nicolson NZ$60

As is befitting one of the foremost actresses of our time this handsome book is littered with gorgeous photographs taken from every stage of Helen Mirren’s full and fascinating life. In fact there is probably more page space given over to illustration that to text. This does not detract from the book as the photos she has selected are simply sumptuous.
From her aristocratic Russian grandfather to her American film director husband, and of course with her spectacular career of stage and screen, the book is full of amazing experiences and fascinating characters. Her forthright style, liberated attitude and bohemian outlook, it is all here. A great read especially if you are a movie or theatre buff. I liked the full list of all her film, theatre and television provided at the end of the book.
Gorgeous cover. This one is going to find its way in to a lot of Christmas stockings.

Soffrito – a Delicious Ligurian Memoir
Lived by Lucio Galletto, Written by David Dale
Allen & Unwin NZ$60

And that delicious Ligurian memoir subtitle is most appropriate as this is indeed a delicious book.
I have to admit to not being aware of David Dale previously but it turns out he is a very high profile Australian journalist/broadcaster with three previous books to his credit including “Things Everyone Needs to Know About Italy”.
Lucio Galletto was born into a family of farmers and restaurateurs in north west Italy. He was studying architecture when he fell in love with a visiting Australian girl and moved to Sydney in 1981. They set up Lucio’s which has become one of Sydney’s most awarded Italian restaurants.
Every Italian cook has a soffritto – the “starter kit” of olive oil, herbs, garlic & other core ingredients from which a great dish is built. Lucio Galletto was in search of the soffritto of his life and in this new century he went back to his birthplace on a mission to understand the family , the food and the culture that prepared him to establish his successful restaurant in Paddington, Sydney, 17,000 kilometers away.
A profusely illustrated, charming story which includes a selection of recipes and a list of his recommended restaurants in Italy.

Stuart Strachan & Linda Tyler – Otago University Press –

Real treasures are contained in this stunning, delightful book. Wow, what a superb piece of publishing. It marks the centenary of the Hocken Collection’s’ Deed of Trust in 1907 and I have no doubt that the late Dr.T.M.Hocken would be delighted with both this book and the care and attention and expansion that has been lavished upon his magnificent collection of books, manuscripts, paintings and other historical documents relating to New Zealand and the Pacific that he donated so long ago.
The book documents almost 200 items dating from the seventeenth century to the present day photographed by specialist arts and culture photographer Bill Nichol.
Excellent introductory essays by independent historian Rachel Barrowman and Hocken Librarian Stuart Strachan.

New Zealand Children’s Books in Print 2007
Editor Crissi Blair Silvertone $16

Something much more utilitarian here with all children’s books, excepting text books and reading schemes, by New Zealand authors and illustrators currently in print, along with ISBNs, prices, and a brief synopsis. An invaluable guide for parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, authors and indeed anyone interested in New Zealand children’s literature. Also includes NZ chiildren’s book awards, publisher addreses, a comprehensive index and an order form so titles can be ordered from your local bookseller.
Cover by noted NZ children’s book illustrator Fraser Williamson.

Trevern & Anna Dawes Penguin Books $29.95

An impressive collection of photographs in this handsome little hardback which capture the fascinating and dramatic thermal and volcanic activity found in New Zealand’s central North Island including the caters of White Island, the mud pools of Rotorua, the hot springs of Mt.Tongariro and much more. One imagines the main market for this title will be our increasing number of tourists.
I would have welcomed more text as the quite brief introduction is barely adequate.

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