Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chinese Literati Crowdsource Translation of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol
September 30, 2009 from psfk.

In a fascinating illustration of crowdsourcing (and piracy) in China, Yeeyan, a collaborative translation website, has posted the prologue and first two chapters of The Lost Symbol. The goal: organize Chinese netizens to produce a Chinese version before its official 2010 release by the People’s Literature Publishing House.
This is not the first example of Chinese appetite for blockbuster media resulting in crowdsourcing — enthusiasts have previously translated Harry Potter books and they regularly craft subtitles for popular Western TV shows.
While piracy is an issue (Yeeyan was positioned to profit) the bigger issue is Chinese demand for global products and how global companies engage that demand to create lasting relationships with Chinese consumers. There is a lucrative opportunity for the next company bringing a global product into China to create an innovative and memorable experience around its product in a way that Random House did not.
Forthcoming at the Grolier Club, London.

December 8, 2009 - February 6, 2010. A Monument More Durable than Brass

The Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson,, from the collections of the Houghton Library, Harvard University. Curated by John Overholt, this survey of the venerable Hyde Collection portrays a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of Dr. Samuel Johnson, though letters, paintings, printed books and other rarely-seen artifacts.
For further information, see the exhibition website

February 23 - May 1, 2010. Lives on the Mississippi: Literature and Culture along the Great River from the Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library Association.
Curated by John Neal Hoover, this stellar selection of books, maps, prints, ephemera and objects chronicles the influence of the Mississippi River on the American consciousness through the centuries.
For further information, see St. Louis Mercantile Library website

May 18 - July 31, 2010. Bound For Success: International Bookbinding Competition.
Curated by Simon Eccles. The first international bookbinding competition of the Designer Bookbinders group, with over 340 entrants from 28 countries, promises to celebrate and inspire the best in contemporary printing and binding throughout the world. Some 125 bindings will be selected for an international tour including the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the Boston Public Library and the Grolier Club. For further information, see the Designer Bookbinders' website

Aove taken from the always interesting Ibookcollector newsletter.
To Contact Ibookcollector
Ibookcollector © is published by Rivendale Press Ltd.

Michael Green and Lifeline charity

He managed to raise a decent sum for LifeLine with the first book (especially the self-published copies before Random House picked it up). Hopefully, even with less control over the 2nd book re: charitable donations, he'll still be able to raise a fair bit. Enjoyable thriller too.

Check out this story and more abut the author on the excellent Crime Watch blog.

Disney joins digital book parade
Eric Engleman on Tuesday, September 29, 2009,

A slew of big tech and media companies are entering the electronic book market in various ways, including Amazon, Google, Sony, Apple, and, most recently, Microsoft. Now you can add Disney to the mix. The entertainment giant has launched a digital books site offering over 500 interactive, multi-media e-books for children.
Disney is selling access to the new and classic books via subscription (there is some free material as well). The books feature the ability to click on words to get the pronunciation and definitions. They also come equipped with voices and sound effects, and a create-your-own story function.
Much of Disney's digital book selection is, perhaps predictably, tied to movies and TV shows, including The Little Mermaid, Wall-E, Hannah Montana, and High School Musical.
by Rhys Jones
Harper Collins - $49.99
Publication - 1 October 2009

If you stop and think about it, it does seem quite astonishing how many great riders, designers, engineers and innovators have been involved in giving New Zealand an amazing history and rich heritage in two-wheeled motorsport.
For a small country geographically isolated from the main centres of motorcycle racing, New Zealand has produced a disproportionate number of the world’s top riders. More World Championships have been won by Kiwi motorcyclists than by competitors in any other sport in this country, with nine riders winning 35 World Championships. I reckon that is remarkable.
Others have come breathtakingly close in both on- and off-road events. Riders such as Hugh Anderson, Graeme Crosby, Ivan Mauger, Ben Townley, Josh Coppins and Aaron Slight — fiercely competitive men who have driven themselves to the level of excellence and enjoy international respect. And, then there’s Katherine Prumm, who is leading the charge for women riders.
There are the innovators, the designers and the engineers who developed their craft in the great Kiwi tradition of ‘can do’: men with vision, such as John Britten, Steve Roberts and Ken McIntosh. Men who built motorcycles that won respect world-wide.

In his handsome new hardcover new book, Legends on 2 Wheels: A celebration of New Zealand’s greatest motorcycle riders, Rhys Jones covers forty-three of New Zealand’s best, beginning with Percy Coleman who set a new Australasian speed record in 1916, right through to the kiwi greats racing today, including Josh Coppins, Bruce Anstey, Ben Townley and the King brothers.
Brief biographies are accompanied by shots of the riders taken by some of the best in the business of motorsport photography over the years. Jones has provided some insightful and fascinating background sections that take the reader on a journey to New Zealand road-race circuits, the Isle of Man and beyond.
Rhys Jones is a long-time motor cycle rider and has ridden a vast collection of different types of motorcycles, many owned, some road-tested for magazines, and others borrowed.

I remember him, as will any others, as a prominent television presenter, producer and journalist going way back to when he first started as a television journalist with NZBC in Auckland on 'Town and Around' in 1967 followed by 'This Day' in 1970. He was that impossibly good looking guy!
Then followed several years working in television news and current affairs in the UK with BBC Wales, presenting for the BBC News in London before moving into production and directing roles.
He returned to New Zealand for the opening of TV2 in 1975., was a presenter on the first Telethon and Presenter of 'Opportunity Knocks' for two years. He produced 'Sunday Best', 'World watch', 'Police 5', and 'Access' before joining the 'Eye Witness' team in Current Affairs.

He spent most of the 1980's in Australia working initially with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a senior journalist and presenter on nightly 'Nationwide' Current Affairs programme before becoming a freelance writer and director with more than 26 documentaries to his credit.
He moved to Singapore in 1990 and presented and produced the 'Asian Business Report', the first independently produced information programme to appear on Singapore Broadcasting Corporation.
Jones finally moved back home to New Zealand in 1997 where he wrote and produced 'Four tales of the dragon' a four part documentary series before being appointed founding Editor of New Zealand Motorcycle Trader and News, thus fulfilling a life long passion for motorcycles.

In 2000, he began work on his first book ‘Taking to the Road’ a history of motorcycling in New Zealand, which was published by Random House September 2002.
He left the magazine business in August 2006 after eight years and wrote his second book ‘On Track - a history of motor racing at Pukekohe’ published in 2008.
Now established as a specialist and highly regarded writer in the world of motoring. Legends on 2 Wheels is his third book.

When I received his book to review I met up with the author and reminded him of our association way back in the late 1970's when I was at Penguin Books and he was at TVNZ and I used to introduce visiting authors for interview.
He immediately turned to his book case and pulled out a Penguin title 'The whores of war' in which he had written on the inside of the cover - 'interview with the author Derek Roebuck for After Ten November 3rd 1977'.
The Bookman was impressed. And the man is just as handsome all these years later! See photo right.
Congratulations Rhys on a fine book.


Because every Harper's Magazine ever published--from June 1850 through today--is now online and comes free with your regular print subscription. Search and browse through essays and fiction by Mark Twain, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Faulkner, Graham Greene, (pic left), Lewis H. Lapham, Annie Dillard, Marilynne Robinson, George Saunders, Barbara Ehrenreich, Alice Munro, David Foster Wallace, Ben Metcalf, and thousands of other writers.
Palin finishes memoir, 'Going Rogue,' out Nov. 17

AP – By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer, – Mon Sep 28, NEW YORK – That was fast.

Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate, has finished her memoir just four months after the book deal was announced, and the release date has been moved up from the spring to Nov. 17, her publisher said.
"Governor Palin has been unbelievably conscientious and hands-on at every stage, investing herself deeply and passionately in this project," said Jonathan Burnham, publisher of Harper. "It's her words, her life, and it's all there in full and fascinating detail."
Palin's book, her first, will be 400 pages, said Burnham, who called the fall "the best possible time for a major book of this kind."
The book now has a title, one fitting for a public figure known for the unexpected — "Going Rogue: An American Life."
Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, has commissioned a huge first printing of 1.5 million copies. Sen. Ted Kennedy's "True Compass," published by Twelve soon after his Aug. 25 death, also had a 1.5 million first printing.
As with the Kennedy book, the digital edition of Palin's memoir will not be released at the same time as the hardcover. "Going Rogue" will not be available as an e-book until Dec. 26 because "we want to maximize hardcover sales over the holidays," Harper spokeswoman Tina Andreadis said Monday.
Publishers have been concerned that e-books, rapidly becoming more popular, might take away sales from hardcover editions, which are more expensive.

Borders UK to close struggling Books Etc stores
By James Thompson in The Independent
Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Borders UK has confirmed it plans to remove the Books Etc and Borders Express brands from the high street. The bookseller – which in July completed a management buyout backed by the retail restructuring specialist Hilco – is trying to sell its remaining seven Books Etc shops and two smaller format Borders Express stores.

Books Etc has been a financial millstone around the neck of Borders UK for a number of years. The retailer's spokesman said: "I can confirm that our future strategy is single-brand." Earlier this month, Borders UK said it would close its Books Etc outlet in Staines, Surrey.

The company, which has 36 core Borders stores, came close to collapse in July under its previous owner Risk Capital Partners, the private equity vehicle of Luke Johnson, the Channel 4 chairman.
But the bookseller was rescued at the 11th hour by Hilco's investment arm Valco Capital Partners in a management buyout led by Philip Downer, the chief executive of Borders UK.

The company is also negotiating with landlords to restructure or reduce the leases on some of its Borders shops, with one believed to be its branch at the Briggate in Leeds. However, the spokesman insisted: "There are no imminent plans to close any Borders stores."
In an unrelated issue Borders has announced it is now stocking the Touch edition and the Pocket Edition of the Sony Reader in stores and online.
Manchester Literature Festival line up announced
29.09.09 Graeme Neill in The Bookseller

Martin Amis, Kate Atkinson (pic right) and Val McDermid are among the authors appearing at the fourth Manchester Literature Festival next month.
The festival will take place from 15th October to 25th October across a range of venues, including Manchester Comedy Store, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Buddhist Centre, Imperial War Museum North and the newly renovated Band on the Wall.
A full programme of events, which also includes talks with Eoin Colfer, Fay Weldon (pic left) and Joan Bakewell, can be found at

Cathy Bolton, director of Manchester Literature Festival said: "Every year MLF sets itself the challenge to get the best, most interesting and diverse writers and literary events for the festival – and this year we’ve really done ourselves proud! If you love live literature, but haven’t got the time or money to go to Edinburgh or Cheltenham, don’t worry because we’re bringing top quality culture with our own Manchester stamp right to your doorstep."
Last month, the festival held a launch event with a live literary performance with music to promote Margaret Atwood's latest novel, The Year of the Flood.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Daily Beast Seeks to Publish Faster
by MOTOKO RICH , New York Times, September 28, 2009
Having ramped up her metabolism from magazines to online journalism with The Daily Beast, Tina Brown now wants to speed up book publishing.

David Steinberger of Perseus Books and Tina Brown of The Daily Beast.
Photo byOzier Muhammad/The New York Times
In a joint venture with Perseus Books Group, The Daily Beast is forming a new imprint, Beast Books, that will focus on publishing timely titles by Daily Beast writers — first as e-books, and then as paperbacks on a much shorter schedule than traditional books.

On a typical publishing schedule, a writer may take a year or more to deliver a manuscript, after which the publisher takes another nine months to a year to put finished books in stores. At Beast Books, writers would be expected to spend one to three months writing a book, and the publisher would take another month to produce an e-book edition.
In an interview in her office at The Daily Beast, which is owned by Barry Diller’s InterActive Corporation, Ms. Brown said she believed books often missed opportunities to attract readers because the titles took too long to come to market.
“There is a real window of interest when people want to know something,” Ms. Brown said. “And that window slams shut pretty quickly in the media cycle.”

Ms. Brown said that Beast Books would select authors from The Daily Beast’s cadre of writers, most of whom are paid freelancers, to write books with quick turnarounds. She said she planned to publish three to five books in the first year. Other publishers have already experimented with releasing quick e-books before issuing a print version and have seen only modest results. “Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation” by Daniel Gross, a writer for Newsweek magazine who expanded on some of his articles for a book that was first published in an electronic edition by Free Press, a unit of Simon & Schuster, sold 4,000 copies in paperback, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales.

PublicAffairs, another imprint of Perseus, issued an e-book version of “The New Paradigm for Financial Markets” by George Soros two months before releasing a hardcover, selling 50,000 copies of the print version.

Ms. Brown, a former editor of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and the ill-fated Talk magazine, said there was a gap between online writing and full-length books that was no longer being fully met by a dwindling market for magazines.
The full story at NYT.

Sony embraces small publishers and unknown authors on Sony Reader eBook store
September 28, 2009 by Dean Takahashi on DigitalBeat

The shift toward digital books is helping small-fry authors and publishers to get in front of wider audiences than ever before. That trend is being reinforced today as Smashwords announces that it has a distribution agreement to get its books published on Sony’s new eBook portal.

Smashwords lets authors publish their books in online formats in a matter of days. Now those books can be downloaded to the Sony Reader, the company’s eBook reader gadget. Smashwords takes manuscripts from writers in Microsoft’s Word format and converts them into Adobe PDFs and eight other formats that can be read by eBook readers such as the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader. Now those eBooks can be uploaded into Sony’s portal, the eBook Store, where users can buy and download them.
“This is one more example of the democratization of book publishing,” said Mark Coker, founder of Los Gatos, Calif.-based Smashwords.

Now it’s much easier for authors to hit lots of readers. Self-published authors can now visit the Sony Publisher Portal and click on Smashwords to sign up for a free publishing account. Then they can format a book in Smashwords’ style andchoose their distribution preferences, and their book will be made available for immediate sale at The book can show up a few days later on Sony’s eBook Store.

Besides Smashwords, Sony is also getting new eBooks from Author Solutions. Smashwords first launched its eBook publishing and distribution platform 16 months ago. Now it has more than 3,000 books available. While that’s a small number, Coker said he is working to rapidly increase the book count. In January, Smashwords announced a distribution agreement with Lexcyle, to allow Smashwords books to be read by users of Stanza, an iPhone eBook-reading app with two million users.
And Smashwords has an agreement with Barnes & Noble, which now distributes Smashwords books on, Fictionwise and on the iPhone eReader app.

A Treasury of New Zealand Baking
Edited by Lauraine Jacobs
Random House - NZ$55
For generations, we have gathered around the family kitchen table to share the joys and heartache that life serves up. Many comforting cups of tea and muffins are sure to have been consumed as women around the country have shared all their anxieties and fears as they struggle to come to terms with the heartbreaking and devastating news of a breast cancer diagnosis which will affect 1 in 9 New Zealand women in their lifetime.

What better way to kick-off Breast Cancer Action Month, than the publication of this treasure trove of cakes, slices, loaves, scones, tarts and muffins from our best-loved foodwriters and chefs. Infused with love and a generosity of spirit, A Treasury of New Zealand Baking is destined to become a comforting kitchen companion to be treasured and passed down through the generations.
This is a cookbook truly to be treasured, to be put on the kitchen cookbook shelf alongside those other baking cookbook treasures by Alexa Johnson, Ladies:A Plate, and Second Helping.

A Treasury of New Zealand Baking is beautifully put together,it includes over 100 classic recipes for cakes, slices, loaves, scones, tarts, muffins and friandes from a star-studded list of food writers: Peta Mathias, Ray McVinnie, Tui Flower, Jo Seagar, Alison Holst, Julie le Clerc, Helen Jackson, Julie Buiso, Allyson Gofton, Catherine Bell, Kate Fraser, Kathy Paterson, Alexa Johnston, Annabelle White, Judith Cullen, Helen Browne, David Burton, Martin Bosley, Simon Wright, Natalia Schamroth and many, many more.
Their recipes include everything from glamour special-occasion cakes to every day fill-the-tins reliables.
Every recipe was tested and baked especially for this project by well-known international baker and author Dean Brettschneider who flew into Auckland for two days to bake and test wth assistance from staff and students of AUT's School of Hospitality & Tourism.

The recipes are stunningly complemented by superb photography by Aaron Maclean.
And the really good news is that all royalties go the Breast Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.

The book is edited by author, food judge, Cuisine food editor and New Zealand food ambassador extraordinaire, Lauraine Jacobs. Well done Lauraine.
By the way Lauraine is off to the Ubud Writers Festival in Bali in a few days and I hope to have reports on her experience at the Festival here on the blog.Stay tuned.

One of NZ's finest indie booksellers, Women's Bookshop has a marvellous e-newsletter, link here to connect -

I especially liked the sound of this forthcoming event:

on an antique FIRE ENGINE! A fun-filled finale to NZ BOOK MONTH.

11am – 1pm Kate will begin with readings from THE 10PM QUESTION at the Leys Institute Library, St. Mary’s Bay Rd ; her fire engine will then depart at 11.50, stopping at 3 street corners along Ponsonby Road at 12noon, 12.20 & 12.40, where a variety of ‘celebrities’ will read with her – ending up with final readings & signings at 1pm in THE WOMEN’S BOOKSHOP.

Spot prizes! Spot the famous faces!!
Have fun & meet one of NZ’s most beloved authors.


From Maori moko to street demonstrations, from Rita Angus to Norman Kirk, from Israel to Fiji, Marti Friedlander's photographs have pictured the transformation of our lives over the last 50 years. But the photographer has not simply recorded the places, events and personalities of recent history. She has brought to her subjects a distinctive eye.

Now, a landmark book by University of Auckland Associate Professor of Art History Leonard Bell offers the first sustained examination of Friedlander's life and work. Marti Friedlander (Auckland University Press) is illustrated with almost 200 of her photographs, many published for the first time. In a world awash with throwaway images, Marti Friedlander's photographs provide evidence for the value of really seeing, showing how sustained, inquiring and attentive looking by both photographer and viewers can lead us to new truths.

Arriving in New Zealand as an immigrant from England in 1958, Marti Friedlander viewed life through the lens of an outsider. Whether photographing artists and writers or protests and street scenes, her photographs have drawn out key human dynamics , conflict, ambivalence, anger, warmth , by excelling in the photographer's art.

Associate Professor Bell says he first saw her work, "quite by chance", at her first exhibition of photographs � of children � at the Wynyard Tavern in Auckland, 1966. He was impressed then and he continued to be impressed when he later saw her photos in her books Larks in a Paradise and Moko. After meeting Marti Friedlander in 1976 when she took a University of Auckland course in Art History, Associate Professor Bell saw more and more of her work. He says it soon became clear she was one of the best photographers working in New Zealand, and he became convinced that a book, particularly with her un-exhibited and unpublished photos, was waiting to be written.

AUP Director Sam Elworthy says the Press is "enormously proud" to publish Marti Friedlander.

Marti Friedlander's photographs tell a profound story about life over the last fifty years , a story of pubs and protesters, kuia and kids, Takapuna and Tel Aviv. In a work of great ambition and beauty, Leonard Bell identifies those particular qualities in Marti Friedlander's photographs that have captured New Zealanders for half a century.�

Associate Professor Bell is also the curator of a related exhibition of Marti Friedlander's photographs, Marti Friedlander: Looking Closely. The exhibition will comprise around 50 prints of her photographs, most of which are either un-exhibited or little-known. The show will be mounted from 9 October - 21 November at The University of Auckland's Gus Fisher Gallery (74 Shortland Street).

The exhibition is accompanied by an exciting programme of public events including Marti Friedlander speaking about the exhibition on Saturday 7 November at 1pm.
For more information visit

Marti Friedlander (Auckland University Press 2009) by Leonard Bell. Foreword by Kapka Kassabova.

Available in all good bookstores from 9 October 2009. RRP $75.
From Internet Archive (

Celebrate Banned Books Week 2009

If you wander into your local bookstore or library within the next week, it’s likely you will see a shrine of sorts to banned books. Those who ban books work to lock up particular controversial writing from readers, but an equally as strong and passionate force works to keep these books freely available. Enter: Banned Books Week.

Banned Books Week is held during the last week of September in order to bring light to banned and challenged books. This week serves to celebrate the freedom to read what you want and to continue in a forceful march to keep writing available to all of the public. So, from September 26 to October 3, there will be efforts all over the country to bring banned books to the forefront–to showcase them as worthy, safe, and accessible works.
Internet Archive offers a collection of banned books in this collection to get you ready for the week. Some of the most famous banned books are highlighted below:
The Fairy Tales of Brothers GrimmThe JungleA Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManThe Wonderful Wizard of OzO Pioneers!Black BeautyThe War of the Worlds

Read through these classics and crack your Ginsberg, Rowling, Nabakov, or Steinbeck this week. Celebrate your freedom to read, because unfortunately some of our best writers have been sanctioned to book prison.
–Cara Binder

Janet Frame Legacy Continues

Internationally acclaimed author Janet Frame was a life member and a past honorary president of The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc.).

To honour her memory, the Society in association with New Zealand Book Month will be hosting the annual Janet Frame Memorial Lecture on Thursday 22nd October, at the Museum of New Zealand,Te Papa.

The current NZSA President of Honour, critically acclaimed children and young adults writer, William Taylor , pic right, will be presenting the lecture this year on the Te Papa Marae. Taylor is one of New Zealand’s most prolific and popular writers with a significant body of his work published internationally, often in translation. His humorous novel for 10-12 year olds, Agnes the Sheep, is now considered by the National Library of New Zealand as a 'classic' book for the young. His more reflective young adult fiction has touched on issues seldom addressed in New Zealand writing for the young; for example, the widely acclaimed, and recently re-published, The Blue Lawn; also Jerome, and Pebble in a Pool. His most recent novel for young adults is Land of Milk & Honey (HarperCollins). Taylor was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004 for his services to children's literature.

The aim of the Janet Frame Memorial Lecture is to deliver an overview of the “state of the nation” for literature and writing in New Zealand to help the reading public have a greater understanding of what it means to be a writer in New Zealand.

The Society had previously nominated authors for a lecture given at The Listener Women’s Book Festival of which Janet Frame was the Patron and the lecture was called the Fiona Kidman Vintage Lecture. However, when the festival ceased, so did the lecture. In conjunction with NZ Book Month NZSA saw an opportunity to sustain the lecture, and Dame Fiona Kidman made the suggestion that the lecture be given in Janet Frame’s name with the Janet Frame Literary Trust endorsement.

The lecture is jointly sponsored by The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc) and Random House New Zealand. New Zealand Book Month runs for the calendar month of October and features a variety of events across the country.
Previous presenters of the Janet Frame Memorial Lecture were Owen Marshall and Greg O’Brien.

Janet Frame Memorial Lecture presented by William Taylor
Thursday 22nd October, 6pm-7pm
The Marae, Level 4, Te Papa, Wellington

1. Way Back Then, Before We Were Ten
(New Zealand Writers and Childhood)

David Ling Publishing and the Friends of the Takapuna library invite you to the launch of

Way Back Then, Before We Were Ten
A Collection of stories and memoir from 26 of our top authors

Takapuna Library, The Strand, Takapuna
On Thursday, 8 October 2009
From 6.00 pm light refreshments served. Launch from 6.30 pm.
RSVP Helen Woodhouse, 486 8469 or email
Books will be available for purchase and signing, courtesy of the Booklover.
(That is Witi Ihimaera & his sister on the cover!)

2. The Magical Verse of Margaret Mahy
Margaret Mahy, David Elliot and Tessa Duder invite you to the launch of their stunning new book -
The Magical Verse of Margaret Mahy
The Word Witch

To be held at the Takapuna Library on Friday, 9 October 2009 from 5.00pm to 7.30 pm.
RSVP by 6 October to Helen Woodhouse, 486 8469 or

3. The Spanish Woman
Mackay Books and the Friends of the Takapuna Library have much pleasure in inviting you to celebrate the Launch of Evan Andrew’s latest novel

The Spanish Woman
Based on fact, this is a remarkable story of love and human endurance, set in the seventeenth century. A journey which is meant to be from Barcelona to Naples, is disrupted by storm and attack and ends in Constantinople.
Fearing a lifetime locked in a harem, or even death, Luisa fights back.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Takapuna Library
The Strand, Takapuna

6.00 pm light refreshments served
6.30 pm Book launch

RSVP to Helen Woodhouse, 486 8469 or


Hornby's publishers, (Penguin in UK, Riverhead in US), must be elated with all the attention he and his latest book, Juliet, Naked, are receiving from print and radio media around the world right now. Every newspaper and magazine I read in print form or online seem to have a feature about him and the book or his latest film, An Education.
There was a lengthy piece by Janet Maslin in the New York Times over the weekend and with Hornby about to set off on a US tour I guess there will be lots more to come.
Closer to home there was a searching interview with Kim Hill on her Saturday show on Radio NZ National and the good news for those who missed it is that RNZ are repeating it this Saturday during their 6.00-7.00pm Great Encounters slot.


The Real Art Trust has just published the touring exhibition Real Art Roadshow, in a sumptuously impressive, high quality book. Full colour plates of each of the 126 New Zealand works in the collection, accompanied by accessible, insightful essays, are now available for all to absorb and treasure.

Why did we take the Real Art Roadshow collection to print? We spent much time, effort and money on preparing resources for the schools. Designers, Mission Hall, in conjunction with the essayists, had done such a brilliant job with The Big Book of Essays - the end result looked stunning and is a compelling read, we thought the resource should have a life outside schools. We hope everyone will have a chance to share in the joy of our unique collection of art,” says Fiona Campbell, Real Art Trust.

Real Art Roadshow: The Book contains the story of how and why the Real Art Roadshow came about as a free resource for secondary school students who do not have easy access to real New Zealand art, with a lovely, personal foreword written by art commentator and collector, Hamish Keith.

Contributors are:
Gerald Barnett, Sally Blundell, Mary-Jane Duffy, David Eggleton, John Hurrell Courtney, Tessa Laird, David Langman, Aaron Lister, Anna Miles, Gregory O’Brien, Cushla Parekowhai, Andrew Paul Wood, Robyn Pickens, Damian Skinner, Jill Trevelyan and Christine Whybrew

REAL ART ROADSHOW : THE BOOK is distributed by Craig Potton
ISBN: 978-0-473-15294-9
Pages: 280
Description: 126 colour plates
Size: 236.5 x 322 x 28 mm
Format: Hard cover
RRP $ 80.00
William Safire, Political Columnist and Oracle of Language, Dies at 79
Published in The New York Times, September 27, 2009

William Safire, a speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon and a Pulitzer Prize-winning political columnist for The New York Times who also wrote novels, books on politics and a Malaprop’s treasury of articles on language, died at a hospice in Rockville, Md., on Sunday. He was 79.
Full obituary - NYT.

English language edition The Lost Symbol takes second spot in Germany
28.09.09 Anja Sieg - The Bookseller

Dan Brown has followed in the footsteps of J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer and has entered the German bestsellers list with The Lost Symbol. Bantam Press’ English-language original premiered as number two in the charts last week.
The book is selling especially well among the large chains, with Berlin’s leading bookseller Dussmann promoting The Lost Symbol in a coveted window facing the famous Friedrichstraße shopping mile.
While the book is not subject to German price maintenance, the widely anticipated price war has so far failed to materialise. It sells between €18,90 ( and €20,90 (Dussmann), with €19,95 the most common price.
In the meantime Brown’s German publisher Lübbe is putting the finishing touches to Das verlorene Symbol which is being translated by a team of six translators. The German translation will hit bookshops on October 14, the opening day of the Frankfurt Book Fair where it will feature strongly on Lübbe’s stand.

To meet the demand the publisher has upped the first print-run of 800,000 copies by another 400,000.

Librarians open up library access across UK
28.09.09 Benedicte Page in The Bookseller

The Society of Chief Librarians has announced a new scheme enabling readers to borrow books and other items from any public library in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
More than 4,000 libraries have signed up to the scheme, which becomes operational today (28th September). The new system means that users need only show their existing library card, or proof of address, to join or access any library they are visiting. However any items borrowed must be returned to the library from where they came.
SCL president Fiona Williams said: "We want people to know that all libraries are open to them, not only the libraries where they live. This is an important step towards making libraries more accessible to all." SCL past president Tony Durcan added: "Now every library is a local library."
The SCL said it was also considering how a universal library card system would work across the public library network in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, perhaps along the lines of the "BC One" card used in British Colombia.

2009 Man Booker Prize shortlisted authors book signing
Hatchards, Piccadilly, London
Monday 5 October at 12.30pm

On the eve of the winner’s announcement, the shortlisted authors for the 2009 Man Booker Prize will attend a book signing at Hatchards, Piccadilly. A.S Byatt, Adam Foulds, Hilary Mantel, Simon Mawer and Sarah Waters will all sign their shortlisted books from 12.30pm.

Later that day, the shortlisted authors will give readings from their books and answer questions at an event held at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

The most important literary award in the English language, the Man Booker Prize celebrates the finest in new fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year.

The winner for the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction will be announced on Tuesday 6 October.

For up to the minute information about the Man Booker Prize go to or follow the Prize on Twitter at

Booktrust is pleased to announce that the theme for Children’s Book Week 2009 is Words and Pictures. The week will celebrate books which spark the imagination by combining superb illustrations with magical language for children of primary school age.
It will take place from 5-11th October with thousands of events taking place in primary schools, libraries, bookshops and at literature festivals across the country.

Children’s Book Week is in its 78th year and is a primary school age celebration of reading for pleasure.
More at the Booktrust website

Monday, September 28, 2009

Books of The Times
'Juliet, Naked'
Idol, Unplugged; Idolator, Unmoored
By JANET MASLIN Published New York Times: September 27, 2009

Nick Hornby’s “Juliet, Naked” is a taste-based comedy that revolves around a reclusive American singer-songwriter from the 1980s. His name is Tucker Crowe, and he has inspired a small but disproportionately rabid band of followers. One such Crowologist is a middle-aged Englishman named Duncan. The novel begins with Duncan on a fact-finding expedition to Minneapolis, where he makes a pilgrimage to the bathroom that Crowe visited on a night that apparently changed his life.

Author photo by Sigrid Estrada

By Nick Hornby
406 pages. Riverhead. $25.95.
Viking - UK & Commonwealth

“If toilets could talk, eh?” Duncan remarks to Annie, his longtime girlfriend, who is most definitely not a Crowe fan. “Annie was glad this one couldn’t,” Mr. Hornby writes. “Duncan would have wanted to chat to it all night.”
In earlier days, Duncan might have been the lone creep sifting through Bob Dylan’s garbage in the middle of the night. Now, thanks to the Internet, he has soul mates ready to discuss all forms of Crowiana. It’s Christmas in Croweland when an unplugged version of “Juliet,” his most famous album, is suddenly made public. The acoustic “Juliet” consists of a set of old demo recordings and it quickly becomes known as “Naked,” whereas the famous, fully produced version is “Dressed.” Now for some plot engineering from Mr. Hornby: he prompts Annie to quietly write her own small online review of “Naked” while Duncan concocts a far more self-important version. It’s Annie who gets a reply. Tucker Crowe is moved by what she has to say about him because she shares his feeling of being adrift. After all, Annie calculates that she has wasted 15 years hanging around Duncan. And Tucker has been out of the public eye since that Minneapolis bathroom visit, in 1986.
So “Juliet, Naked” casually gives Annie something for which Duncan would kill. And it keeps Duncan in the dark about the identity of Annie’s new Internet friend. Soon she and Tucker have become so enmeshed in their correspondence that he sends her a photo of himself, which she puts on her refrigerator. “Do I know him?” Duncan asks suspiciously of this unfamiliar new face. (Crowologists manage to take pictures of the wrong guy and mistake him for their hero.) Annie has to think before she answers. “Did Duncan know him?” she asks herself. “Well, yes and no. Mostly no, she decided.”
In maneuvering and manipulating these characters, Mr. Hornby, the author of “High Fidelity,” is on safe and inviting terrain. He knows all about the get-a-life pop-cultural obsessive who can devote himself to the study of someone else’s career and declare himself a “world expert” on the subject. Mr. Hornby doesn’t characterize Tucker Crowe’s music all that plausibly, but he can at least be funny about it. “Juliet” is supposed to be one of the great lost-love albums, akin to “Blood on the Tracks,” even though Tucker has since figured out that the girlfriend about whom he wrote it wasn’t all that interesting. And if it’s hard to imagine this Dylan-Springsteen-Leonard Cohen amalgam, the book also wittily describes him as influenced by Dylan Thomas, Harold Pinter, Johnny Cash, Albert Camus and early Dolly Parton.

Read the full piece at NYT.
Kiwi crime writer Paul Cleave hits #2 on Amazon

Check out this story on Craig Sisterson's excellent crime fiction Crime Watch blog.
On 3rd October 1-3pm, The Weta Cave – Wellington will be having an Illustrator/book signing.

US-based Alan Lee who’s currently in NZ working on The Hobbit film, will be signing copies of his new book SHAPESHIFTERS.
Shapeshifters: The Metamorphoses of Ovid
by Adrian Mitchell • illustrated by Alan Lee
'Adrian Mitchell makes these tales of human overeaching and natural vengeance sharply up to date. Children will be entranced, but there's plenty for adults too.' Andrew Marr

Bursting into life in the hands of Adrian Mitchell, here are 30 of the brightest, lovliest and
most powerful myths ever written. Re-created from Ovid's Metamorphoses in stories,
ballads and headline news, they sing aloud on the page. Breathtaking artwork by the
most acclaimed fantasy illustrator of our time transforms the storied into a living, breathing
children's classic to bewitch a new generation raised in a world of special effects.

* Kate Greenaway-winning illustrator Alan Lee won an Oscar in 2004 for conseptual
design on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
* Adrien Mitchell, playwright and poet, who died last year, has a big following
* Haunting illustrations by the acclaimed fantasy illustrator Alan Lee.

Adrian Mitchell (1932-2008) was the first jounalist to interview the Beatles and caught the
spirit of the time with his anti -war poem 'Tell me lies about Vietnam'. He adapted many
foreign classics for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.
His last three books were Shapeshifters, Tell me Lies (Bloodaxe Books) and Umpteen Pockets (Orchard Books).
Adrians death in 2008 was a sad loss to literature, to the theatre and to children everywhere.
Shapeshifters publication date: October 2009

AUS$ Pric:e $29.95
NZ$ Price: $34.99
ISBN: 9781845075361
Binding: Hardback

Gabriel García Márquez masterpiece tops poll of world literature
One Hundred Years of Solitude has most shaped world literature over the past 25 years, says survey
Alison Flood writing in The Guardian, 25 September 2009

Gabriel García Márquez's seminal novel One Hundred Years of Solitude is the piece of writing that has most shaped world literature over the past 25 years, according to a survey of international writers.
Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams from My Father, also makes an appearance on the list of favourite works chosen by fellow writers.
Indra Sinha, Blake Morrison, Amit Chaudhuri and 22 other authors were asked to pick the title that they felt had most influenced world writing over the past quarter-century. The survey was conducted by the international literary magazine Wasafiri – meaning "cultural traveller" in Swahili – which celebrates its 25th anniversary today.

Márquez's novel was the only book to be selected more than once. It was chosen by three authors: Chika Unigwe, Sujata Bhatt and the Ghanaian writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes.
Parkes said: "[It] taught the west how to read a reality alternative to their own, which in turn opened the gates for other non-western writers like myself and other writers from Africa and Asia.
"Apart from the fact that it's an amazing book, it taught western readers tolerance for other perspectives."
Sinha picked Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita "for Nabokov's astonishing virtuoso performance, which has never been excelled", and Morrison plumped for The Stories of Raymond Carver. "No creative writing course would be complete without it," he said. "Thousands of young writers have been taught to pare their work to the bone, just as Carver was by his editor Gordon Lish – though nobody can match Carver's genius for rhythm and nuance."

Poetry made a strong showing on the list of 25 titles: Chaudhuri selected Elizabeth Bishop's Collected Poems, which he first chanced upon in a Bombay library in the late 1970s. "[It] has had an enormous, if subtle, impact on how we think of poetry and language today," he said, calling it "a reminder that travel, exile, cosmopolitan irony, as well as a certain narrative of the self can be addressed just as well – if not better – through the means poetry has at hand (economy, form, the image, and a kind of grace) as they can by the novel or the essay."
Daljit Nagra picked Seamus Heaney's North "for its intensely lyrical and idiosyncratic focus on aesthetic resolutions to conflict", while Elaine Feinstein selected Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters, for creating "a new form of intimate poetry, quite different from Robert Lowell's confessional verse".

Salman Rushdie made the list twice, for The Satanic Verses and Midnight's Children, while VS Naipaul was nominated for A House for Mr Biswas, Ben Okri for The Famished Road and JM Coetzee for Disgrace.
Read Alison Flood's full report at The Guardian online.

Jasper Jones, the highly acclaimed novel by West Australian author Craig Silvey, has been named the winner of the 2009 Indie Book of the Year.

Now in its second year, The Indie Book Award is chosen by Australia's independent booksellers who select their favourite Australian authors of the last 12 months.

Panels of expert judges (all avid readers and indie booksellers) choose winners in four book categories – Fiction, Debut Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s. These four category winners form the shortlist and independent booksellers from across the country then vote to select the best of the best - The Indie Book of the Year for 2009. The winning author will receive prize money of $15,000. Last year’s inaugural winner was Tim Winton for Breath.
Jayne Wasmuth, General Manager at Leading Edge Books, the awards organisers said, “Australia’s independent bookshops have fallen in love with Craig Silvey and the colourful cast of characters from his breakout novel – Jasper Jones. There was absolutely no doubt, this book was the clear winner among indies as the Book of the Year for 2009.
We had very strong contenders in Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man (Non Fiction), Sonia Orchard’s The Virtuoso (Debut Fiction) and Sally Murphy and Heather Potter’s Pearl Verses the World (Children’s Book). But it was our Fiction category winner – Jasper Jones – that quickly took the lead as the votes came in.”

Craig Silvey grew up in Western Australia and now lives in Fremantle.
At the age of 19, he wrote his first novel, Rhubarb, published by Fremantle Press in 2004. In 2005, best-selling Rhubarb, was chosen as the ‘One Book’ for the Perth International Writers’ Festival, and was included in the national Books Alive campaign.
Silvey also received a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist Award. In 2007, Silvey released The World According To Warren, a picture book affectionately starring the guide-dog from Rhubarb. In early 2008, he completed his second novel, Jasper Jones, with the aid of an Australia Council New Work Grant. Outside of literature, Silvey is the singer/songwriter for the band The Nancy Sikes!

For further information visit


Stieg Larsson
Volume III of the Millennium Triology

The Girl hits back: The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, the highly anticipated final volume in the Millennium Trilogy, will have an embargoed special release date of 1 October 2009.

Lisbeth Salander is plotting her revenge – against the men who tried to kill her, and against the government institutions that nearly destroyed her life. But it is not going to be a straightforward campaign. After taking a bullet to the head, Salander is under close
supervision in Intensive Care, and is set to face trial for three murders and one attempted murder on her eventual release.

With the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist from Millennium Magazine, Salander must not only
prove her innocence, but identify and denounce the corrupt politicians that have allowed the vulnerable to become victims of abuse and violence. Once a victim herself, Salander is ready
to fight back.

The Millennium Trilogy was the publishing sensation of 2008 and 2009 and has sold more than
13 million copies worldwide. This final volume of the Trilogy is the culmination of one of the most mesmerising fictional achievements of our time.

Stieg Larsson was the founder and editor-in-chief of the Swedish anti-racist magazine Expo. He died in 2004, soon after delivering the manuscripts for the novels that are the Millennium Trilogy. Tragically, he did not live to enjoy the phenomenon that his work has become.

PUBLISHED: 1 October 2009
IMPRINT: MacLehose Press
CATEGORY: Crime fiction
RRP: NZ$37.99

The Bookman will be reading this the moment he gets his hands on it. He will be waiting at the gate on Thursday for the courier to arrive with his review copy.
For his review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo link here.

Dan Brown‘s The Lost Symbol reaches new heights in Australia & New Zealand
25th September 2009

Nielsen BookScan has released sales figures for the long awaited and much publicised fifth Dan Brown novel: The Lost Symbol published by Random House.
An amazing 127,378 copies of The Lost Symbol were sold in Australia, and 19,795 copies in New Zealand through each country’s BookScan Panel* following release on Tuesday 15 September, up to and including Saturday September 19th 2009 - 5 days.
As a comparison, 573,000 copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (published July 2007) were sold in Australia on its first day of release; it was the last title in the series of seven.
Since December 2002 the sales of The Lost Symbol are the highest single week’s sales after the last 3 Harry Potter releases in Australia.

Looking at previous Dan Brown titles, The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, Deception Point and Digital Fortress, a total of 2.6m copies was sold in Australia since first release, including film editions and boxed sets.
Film adaptations of the previous two Robert Langdon novels, starring Tom Hanks, were
blockbusters following the books' success. Data from Nielsen EDI shows that across Australia
and New Zealand, The Da Vinci Code (2006) grossed A$31.5m, making it the 39th highest-grossing film of all time in these countries. 2009's Angels and Demons grossed A$20.5m, placing it just outside the Top 100 films of all time.
A film adaptation of The Lost Symbol is expected to be announced shortly.

About Nielsen BookScan
BookScan is the book trade’s independent continuous retail sales monitoring service providing the most authoritative and reliable source of books sales information in Australia and New Zealand. BookScan provides weekly book sales figures to the media (best seller charts), publishers, bookshops and other industry observers.
BookScan provides accurate consumer sales information on all titles selling in Australia and New Zealand through retail channels. BookScan does not measure sales to institutions such as libraries, schools, etc.
BookScan countries of coverage are UK, Ireland, US, Australia, South Africa, Italy, New Zealand, Denmark and Spain. For more information, please visit: or
In conjunction with adidas Auckland Marathon

Tuesday 6 October 6.30pm
Millennium Institute of Sport and Health17 Antares Place, Mairangi Bay, North Shore City
Tickets $10 (plus booking/delivery fee)
T: 0508 iTICKET (484 253)
Tickets are strictly limited – please book early. No door sales.

Ultra-distance runner, Lisa Tamati, will be giving out all her tips and tricks on running marathons. She will also be answering questions about running and keeping fit, suitable for first-time marathoners as well as the more experienced.

Copies of Lisa Tamati's new autobiography, RUNNING HOT, will be available for purchase and signing.
27 September, 2009

The book I love most is....anything by Alan Bennett or Alice Munro. Both are masters at transforming ordinary life into something magical. If I had to choose which one to meet for afternoon tea I’d probably go for Alan because he’s funnier, but then he is rather rude about a New Zealander in The Uncommon Reader.
Alice Munro is so perceptive I’d feel naked in front of her.
So maybe the book I really love most is anything by David Sedaris. Let’s say Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Jeans. Anything of his is brilliant. Now there’s a funny man. Why are they always gay?

The book I’m reading now is....a battered version of Peter the Great, His Life and World, by Robert K. Massie. I never read books twice but this is an exception. It’s just as riveting second time around, except the pages are falling out.

The book I’d like to read next is.....Spotless 2: More Stains and Solutions to Domestic Disasters. A concerned friend gave me Spotless One, but I haven’t got around to reading that yet either. Maybe I’ll wait for How to Ignore Spots and Stains and be Happy Anyway.

Helen Brown is a columnist, entertainer and author whose latest book is Cleo: How an Uppity Cat Helped Heal a Family. Read The Bookman's review of this title here.

The Press Christchurch Writers Festival celebrates NZ Book Month

5 New Zealand Poets
Friday 2 Ocotber 5.30pm
Our City O -Tautahi
Cnr Oxford Tce & Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch.
Join poets Joanna Preston, Frankie McMillan, Brian Turner,(pic right), Tusiata and James Norcliffe as they read from their work in this celebration of NZ Book Month.
The 2009 Lauris Edmond Memorial Award will also be presented.
Call 03 365 2223 ext 3

Book Launch:

The Port Hills of Christchurch
by award winning author Gordon Oglivie
Thursday 8th October 2009 6 -7.30pm
The University Bookshop
University Drive, Ilam, Christchurch.
RSVP: Gillian Newman, 364 2043 ext. 3777
or email:
Bonanza for Pacific history buffs

Gordon McLauchlan salutes two new books exploring the dreams and reality of what happens when explorers probed beyond the fringes of the known world.


by Martin Edmond (Auckland University Press $35)

I HAVE seldom finished a book and felt I had read the last word on a large subject, but I was that replete at the end of Anne Salmond's Aphrodite's Island. Silly, of course, because scholarship is a continuing activity and I have no doubt more will be written about the mysterious attraction of the habitat and lives of Tahitians during the first decades of contact with Europeans.

In a bonanza month for South Pacific history buffs, Martin Edmond's Zone of the Marvellous is also published. Salmond's story is about navigators from three European nations for whom the Polynesian islands were a wondrous sideshow in a campaign to discover and claim an Antipodean continent whose existence had been imagined by Northern Hemisphere geographers for centuries.She writes: ``From the time of the ancient Greeks, the South Sea (like outer space in the 20th century) had provided Europeans with a blank slate for thought experiments about social life, including differing approaches to sexuality ...'' She cites Plato's account of Atlantis (400BC) and others.Edmond's book is a wide-ranging inquiry into who wrote on that blank slate, and what mythic guesses they made, starting with the saga of Gilgamesh; working through the amazingly prescient Greek Claudius Ptolemy; and examining the travels, real and imagined, of Dante, Marco Polo, William Dampier, Jonathan Swift and others.

I have read most of the popular books about the rediscovery of Tahiti: Mutiny on the Bounty by Nordoff and Hall, George Robertson's readable journal of the first Europeans' visit by the HMS Dolphin under Captain Samuel Wallis, and others. And I have seen most of the movies, from Charles Laughton's brilliant, malevolent version of William Bligh, and Clark Gable's urbane Fletcher Christian to Trevor Howard's competent Bligh and Marlon Brando's overdone Christian. After all that, old Tahiti and pristine Tahitians persisted in my mind as Arcadians.

I knew I was nodding off over paradisal dreams when I read and thought about Tahiti but now believe I have a balanced picture in my head of a remarkable but seriously blemished Arcadia, somewhere real and not simply a romantic idea. Yet something of those dreams must linger, because everyone clings to their ideals.As Edmond puts it: ``Human memory is not sequential but accumulative. It collects but doesn't necessarily discard.''
The extraordinary achievement of Anne Salmond is that she has documented each of the English, French and Spanish (from Peru) Tahiti visits over the decade from 1767, often on a day-by-day basis, and has recounted them with a range of gifts as a story-teller.She writes of a prophecy by a Tahitian, before the Dolphin's arrival, about the coming of a vessel without an outrigger and crewed by gods. She dispels the popular conception that Noble Savage Polynesians welcomed the early visitors with love and largesse. Samuel Wallis had to make them submit to his big guns before any rapport developed.
The hierarchical society was riven by occasional brief, but ferocious wars, and driven by the same dreary motives that tend to despoil human communities everywhere: lust for power. Their god, Oro, demanded frequent human sacrifices, being as politically manipulated as any god of any mass religion.
Yet it is no wonder that sailors from the relative gloom of 18th century Europe, sick and physically disgusting from scurvy, were wooed and won by the cornucopia of the islands: salubrious weather, abundant food and beautiful, erotic and freely available women _ even if much of the sex was transactional.History, like all good stories, is about people and Salmond's triumph in Aphrodite's Island is her steady delineation of so many of the characters involved. Some of them: James Cook, Joseph Banks and the charismatic Tahitian priest, Tupaia, who later accompanied Cook to New Zealand aboard the Endeavour; Captain Louis de Bougainville and associate Philibert Commerson, whose valet was a covert woman and his lover; Purea, the durable Tahitian queen; paramount chief Tu Ma'i, who famously accompanied Cook to England; and the timorous Franciscan friars from Peru with their ebullient companion, Maximo.What Salmond gives us in detail is the structure of a society with similar political corruptions and distortions inherent in other human communities, and how it coped during a head-on collision with people from a very different, technologically (but not socially) advanced people. And she does it with comprehensive scholarship carried on a compelling narrative.

If Edmond has ever written a dull book, I've not come across it. In Zone of the Marvellous, he takes us to heterotopias _ not here, somewhere else, actual places or those inhabited by the imagination. It is a mind-bending journey as we are borne on the wings of his unleashed imagination. The very earliest days of human exploration were out of Africa, a long time before there was any way of indelibly recording anything from an expanding consciousness; but human beings have always probed beyond the fringes of the known world or universe either in reality or imagination.Edmond offers a mass of detail, the product of long, intensive research and enlivens his text with throwaway comments like: ``[Abel Tasman] seems a typically pious Calvinist with no great passion for anything except the sea.

It is strange how his obdurate, recessive, occasionally violent, always puritanical character seems somehow to be mirrored in aspects of the New Zealand psyche.''The last chapter, After Erewhon, is riveting, a journey through the heterotopias of the modern imagination, ending, upbeat, with: ``Here at the beginning of the twenty-first century all times are contemporaneous in a way that was impossible when there were still undiscovered lands beyond the horizon ... The Land of Gold, the Great South Land ... was a mythical construct that can still be made real ... Because we are now living in a place that was imagined before it was real, that is also the way we may be able to realise a future: It too can be a zone of the marvellous.''

Gordon McLauchlan is an Auckland writer.

The above article first appeared in the New Zealand Herald on Saturday 26 September 2009 and is reproduced here with their kind permission.
Outlander series author Diana Gabaldon reveals the secret to writing a good sex scene
By Nicky Pellegrino

Twenty years ago it seemed an unlikely plot for a bestseller. In post-war Scotland a young married woman called Claire drops through a stone circle and finds herself in the 18th century where she falls in love with a handsome clansman called Jamie, marries him (bigamously of course) and becomes tangled up in history. But that book, Cross Stitch, sold like hot cakes, especially here in New Zealand and all these years later Diana Gabaldon, pic right, is still writing her sagas about Claire and Jamie who have since survived Culloden, had a family and been transported to the Colonies where they’re now having to cope with the American Revolutionary War.

The seventh and latest volume in what’s known as the Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone (Orion, $39.99) has just been released and in November Gabaldon will be touring the country meeting fans that have followed Jamie and Claire’s adventures devotedly over the past two decades.
“The pair of them are real people – at least to me and the readers,” the fast-talking American tells me over the phone from her home in Scottsdale, Arizona. “And they’ve changed over time. They’re like friends you’ve had for 20 years. You know all about the complexities of their lives and that makes them much more interesting than people you’ve just met.”

Gabaldon was a scientist, working two jobs and raising three young children, when she started writing Cross Stitch in her lunch breaks. She’d never been to Scotland and based her descriptions of that country on library research. It was after she’d posted excerpts of the book on an Internet site that she was introduced to a literary agent and took her first steps along the road to bestseller-dom.
A hybrid of historical romance and fantasy laced with bloody battles and countless sex scenes, Cross Stitch roused its share of controversy when it was first published, particularly with feminists who objected to a scene where Claire has to submit to a beating from Jamie after she’s disobeyed him.
“That’s one of my favourite scenes in the whole book as it so clearly illustrates the cultural conflict,” says Gabaldon. “It was quite funny for several years as people would have absolute fits in online discussion groups and then suddenly it stopped. Perhaps that particular phase of rampant feminism has burnt itself out and people have enough perspective to see it was the 18th Century and that’s how a husband and protector would have behaved.”

Gabaldon doesn’t think of the Outlander series as a romance. Happily married herself for 37 years, she sees the books more as an examination of how love can survive over time – hence her insistence on a robust sex life for her characters.
“While there may be some great marriages that don’t include sex I personally don’t know of any,” she says, adding that she can’t write sex scenes in cold blood, only when the characters are in the mood. “I’m very good at it and it’s not a common talent. A lot of people miss the point with sex scenes. A well written one is about the exchange of emotions not bodily fluids. In essence it’s a dialogue scene.
Physical details are provided to anchor the reader in time and space but if you’re old enough to read this sort of book you’ll know the basic mechanics. In my sex scenes people may be settling other issues - it might be about healing, hostility, the offering of refuge.”
It takes Gabaldon three years to compose one of Claire and Jamie’s epic adventures. She doesn’t write in a traditional linear fashion but instead in bits and pieces. “There’s this large hyper-space in my head and all the pieces are suspended in it like constellations of stars,” she explains. “As I write and research they begin to fall into place. It’s like putting together a jigsaw.”

Perhaps as a result of her scientific background, Gabaldon has spent a lot of time considering the complexities and moral ambiguities of time travel and has literally drawn up her own set of rules. “The readers and characters are discovering them as they go along,” she explains, adding that it makes sense for Claire not to be able to change the outcome of major historical events like Culloden or the American Revolution “If you look at how history works most major changes are the result of a large group of people moving in one direction. A time traveller wouldn’t be able to exert enough influence to push back against that. So Claire can’t change the big events but she can alter history by saving people who might otherwise die.”

There’s a large contingent among her fans that would like to see Jamie brought forward into the future to see how he’d react to things like flush toilets and cars. “That will never happen,” promises Gabaldon. “Readers do have opinions but the fact is they don’t have any say in it.”
An Echo in the Bone won’t be the final Outlander story. Gabaldon reckons she will have to write at least one more in order to be able to deal properly to the American Revolution. But she does know how the whole series will end. “I wrote that some years ago although I have no idea how I’m going to get there,” she says. “I’m not a fan of never-ending series that peter off into insignificance I can see what the end is and it will stop at that point. I don’t think I’ll be devastated. I have a good many other things waiting in the wings.”

*Diana Gabaldon is touring New Zealand from November 2 – 6. Go to for event details.

Nicky Pellegrino
, in addition to being a succcesful author of popular fiction, (her latest The Italian Wedding was published in May this year), is also the Books Editor of the Herald on Sunday where the above review was first published on 27 September