Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bookman Beattie wishes you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best for the exciting year ahead.

And a big thank you to all who have visited my blog site these past two months.The response has been so much bigger than I would ever have imagined with the average daily visits having climbed to around 156,biggest day so far 198, average per week now almost 900.
My site meter records the cities and countries from which people visit and so I can see that you have come from London to Lucknow, Toronto to Tulsa, Kaitoki to Kobe, Wellington to Wolongong , and many many places in between.

The % breakdown of source of these visits by country has been as follows:

New Zealand 63.41%
United States 17.07%
Australia 9.76%

And Italy, India, Canada and all others around 2.44% each.

I am signing off now and will be back around 22 January 2007.

PS. The typical North Island, New Zealand beach scene featuring the beautiful pohutukawa shown above was lifted from the Harper Collins New Zealand Christmas card. In my rush today I did not get permisson from them first so I hope this acknowledgment will suffice. My special thanks and greetings to them, particularly Lorraine Steele who recently left the company to travel overseas after 9 years of wonderful work as Publicity Manager.

Buon Natalie.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Read this from the New York Times.

I guess it all started for me back in the late 1980's with Peter Mayle's A YEAR IN PROVENCE. I was enchanted, addicted to the genre and have since read a steady stream of books by ex-pat Brits, Americans, Aussies and others writing about their experiences of heading off to some gorgeous place, usually but not exclusively in France or Italy, where they convert a house or farm and live happily ever after.
I must say that almsot without exception I have enjoyed these books.

Now a new standard for the "ex-pat makes good genre" has been set by Vicki Archer and Carla Coulson with their breathtakingly beautiful book, MY FRENCH LIFE, published under Penguin Australia's impressive Lantern imprint of which I wrote last week.

Vicki and her husband and three kids fulfilled a lifelong dream when they bought and restored a seventeenth century farmhouse in Saint-Remy de Provence. They also restored abandoned orchards, planted an olive grove with more than 2000 trees and along the way fell in love with all things French.

She has now told her story and, along with friend Carla Coulson, who provided the magnificent photographs, and the design skills of those clever folks at Lantern, the result is quite something to behold.

It is large and luscious and from the appealing jacket to the padded cover, from the beautiful end-papers to the absorbing text and hundreds of mouth-watering pics, this is a book that once you pick up you will not want to put down.

It is the winner of the inaugural Beattie's Book Blog Non-Fiction Title of the Year Award.
Have a look at it, you will not be disappointed.

The irrepressible Titirangi bookseller Murray Gray, he of Gone West Books, and the Going West Festival, sent out the following e-mail message today - most entertaining and deserving of a wider audience so here it is for your enjoyment:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes
or an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, nonaddictive,
gender neutral celebration of the winter/summer solstice holiday,
practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or
secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular
persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice
religious or secular traditions at all.

We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and
medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally
accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the
calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society
have helped make our country great (not to imply that it is necessarily
greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed,
colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of
the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting the following terms:
/This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely
transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no
promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for
her/himself or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is
revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted
to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for
a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday
greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement
of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the
wisher. /

*Disclaimer:* No trees were harmed in the sending of this message;
however, a significant number of electrons were slightly inconvenienced.
The board has, in deference to this inconvenience, turned all of the
lights off in the toilets and waiting rooms.
Your in cultural sensitivity

Murray J Gray
Managing Director

Have a laugh with this story from the Guardian today.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Booksellers use a wide varietry of means in an attempt to get us to buy books from them. At this time of the year in particular we seem to receive many well-designed colour brochures in the mail, enclosed with magazines and as junk mail in the letter box.

Of the "hard-copy" brochures received from a number of booksellers around the country this year I am going to give the Beattie's Book Blog Award for best brochure received in the mail to The Womens Bookshop.
The great advantage this award-winning independent bookstore in Ponsonby has is that they cover the field by also having an excellent website.

Surely the day is fast approaching when every bookstore will have a website? I believe that within a year or two those that don't have a website will not survive.

But there are many other marketing means employed and another most impressive effort I have seen recently comes from COOK THE BOOKS, the specialist cookbook store in Auckland's Mt.Eden.They send out a regular newsletter by e-mail and here for your interest is their December issue:

Welcome to the latest and last edition of What’s Cooking for 2006. We hope you have enjoyed receiving and reading the newsletter throughout the year and trust it keeps you informed of new books, events at the store and other bits of culinary news. In this edition we have details of still MORE new releases you will love and we look forward to seeing you over the next few weeks with your Christmas shopping list!

On the Shelves…..

Bather’s Pavilion Menus and Recipes – Serge Danserau - $80.00

Serge Dansereau and the Bathers' team are back with a must-have cookbook featuring 180 new and classic recipes. The book also features lifestyle menus including - a charming beach picnic; a chic dinner for family and friends; and an elegant menu for a small function.

Breakfast Lunch Tea – Rose Carrarini - $60.00

The Rose Bakery is a small Anglo-French restaurant, shop and bakery, tucked away in a street near the Gare du Nord in Paris. This book introduces this hidden gem and the philosophy and style of its creator Rose Carrarini with over 100 of Rose’s most popular recipes and more than 100 specially commissioned photographs.

Gennaro’s Italian Year – Gennaro Contaldo - $80.00

A celebration of Italian life as much as Italian food, Gennaro's Italian Year gives us a way into Italian food, lifestyle and culture, and includes recipes for every month of the year, from summer favourites to Christmas essentials, with more than 120 recipes.

The Joy of Eating – Joy Foulston (Editor) – $55.00

Food is a constant in our lives, and it has always been a basic ingredient of women's writing - in household books, cookbooks, diaries, letters and fiction and this is the first anthology to concentrate on international food writing by women.

In A Pickle – Jill Brewis - $29.95

Using fresh seasonal produce spice up your pantry andrefrigerator with 21st century classics such as preserved lemons, mango salsa, green bean pickle and fruity as well as savoury jams.

Savour – Alessandra Zecchini - $35.00

Drawing on her Italian background, Alessandra's produces meltingly gorgeous recipes for pizzas. breads, pastry treats & a selection of savoury egg dishes. The recipes are not just mouth-watering, they're designed for the health-concious too.

Tana Ramsay’s Family Meals – Tana Ramsay - $50.00

Tana, wife of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and hands-on mother, has written a cookbook every family will swear by - but not in the traditional Gordon way. Tana shows time-pressed parents how easy it is to cook healthy meals that all the family will enjoy - no matter what age or how demanding they may be with over 100 recipes.
River Café Pocket Book Collection – Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers - $35.00 each

This series of four books is an essential addition to every kitchen - a definitive collection of pasta, fish & shellfish, vegetables & salads and desserts. Each book brings together a unique range of dishes from the River Cafe, in a handy paperback format.

Gifts Galore…..

An amazing range of stunning cookbooks awaits your selection, but if you would like something a little bit different you can choose from this fantastic range of gift ideas -Bach Visitors Book by photographer Stephen Robinson, also features recipes from The Bach, Taupo; Bennetts of Mangawhia Chocolates and Truffles;

Cooksmart / Booksmart series with recipe subjects Tapas, Smoothies, Vegetarian, Pasta, Chicken and more; Village Press Olive Oils and Tapenades;

Zarbo Diary 2007 by Mark McDonough featuring 26 recipes to mark the changing seasons; Peter Gordon’s Condiments - Relishes, Chutneys and Dressings;

Beer, Wine and Barbecue Gift Boxes that also include a book in each pack; 2007 Calendars – A good range of food themed calendars such as ‘Markets of the World’, ‘Grill It’, ‘Food of Italy’ and 'Kitchen Garden' to mention a few; Putamayo CD’s including titles such as French Café, Music from the Wine Lands, World Lounge and new releases 'One World Many Cultures' and 'Radio Latino'; Cake Tins from Roger Le Borde – small to large in a variety of designs.

Don’t forget we offer complimentary gift wrapping and also have Gift Vouchers if you would like to let the recipient choose from the wonderful range of books.


Cherry Preserves- 500 g white sugar; 2 cups water; 500g red or black cherries.

Heat 225g (1 cup) of sugar with water & boil for 5 minutes. Add cherries & cook for 15-20 minutes until tender. Add remaining sugar & cook rapidly until it begins to thicken. Skim if necessary. Pour into hot sterilised jars & seal. Makes about 1 litre.

From - In A Pickle - Jill Brewis - Penguin Books

Authors comment - The cherries are a perfect Christmas idea - to give away in fancy bottles or to eat them all yourself.

Christmas and New Year Opening Hours …..

Pre Christmas, from week commencing Monday 11th December we will be open 9am to 6.30pm each week-day evening and until 5.30pm Saturdays and Sundays, up to Saturday 23rd December. Sunday 24th December open to 2pm.

Post Christmas, closed from Monday 25th December to Tuesday 2nd January. Re-open Wednesday 3rd January with opening hours during January 11am to 4.00pm

Season's Greetings …..

May we take this opportunity to thank you sincerely for your loyalty, custom and patronage throughout the year and wish you and your family a very happy Christmas and New Year. Have a relaxing, food and wine-filled holiday, we look forward to seeing you in the new year.

Happy Reading, Happy Cooking, Happy Christmas, Happy New Year!
Adele & Jonathan

The Cookbook Store
Open 7 Days
405 Mt Eden Road, Auckland
Ph:(09) 638 4628
Fax:(09) 638 4627


She is certainly on my list of those persons with whom I would most like to have dinner.

But what can one say about her that hasn’t already been said?
TIME magazine put it well when they said “Audrey fits none of the cliches and none of the clichés fit her”.

Tony Nourmand, co-owner of The Reel Poster Gallery in London, is his spectacular new book AUDREY HEPBURN – THE PARAMOUNT YEARS Boxtree NZ$75.00 has done the legions of Audrey fans, count the residents of this household among them, a great favour by collecting together for the first time all those billboard images which helped establish her iconic status as the stand out actress among all the actresses of her time.
In addition to these images he has gathered together magazine covers, lobby cards, stunning original costume sketches and rare
behind-the –scenes stills from movies she made for Paramount all of which are displayed wonderfully in this stunning hardback book.

In addition to the hundreds of illustrations there are fascinating written contributions form June Marsh, former fashion editor of the Daily Mail,Sarah Hodgson, associate director of Christie's and Head of the company's Popular Entertainment department since 1993,and New York art historian and media commentator Andreas Timmer.

“Her legacy on screen and in fashion is undisputed and her image has become as synonomous with her fame as her films”.

If like me you are an admirer of Audrey Hepburn or you live with someone who is then this book MUST be under the tree on Christmas morning!

Monday, December 18, 2006

New Zealand journalist wins French sports book award

This from the New Zealand Herald online today.

John Daly-Peoples writing in NBR December 15 came up with the novel idea of suggesting how to start an art collection of contemporary NZ art and reckons you don't have to be a millionaire, $5000 will do.

In his piece reproduced below he suggests the art work you can purchase whether your budget is $5000 or $500,000.

It’s the end of the year and again you didn’t get around to starting that art collection of contemporary New Zealand art.

These days with on line auctions, on line catalogues, postal bids and galleries with web sites it should be so easy.

If you had embarked on starting the collections here are a few suggestions on what you could have put together with budgets ranging from $5000 - $500,000.

The suggestions are all works which were sold at auction by the leading auction houses – Webb’s, Dunbar Sloane and the International Art Centre.

With a budget of $5000 the works you would have been able to purchase mainly works on paper in multiple editions.

There will always be the opportunity to obtain some individual works and as shown in the list below. You could even obtain a one off work by Merylin Tweedie who now operates as the et al collective.

With a budget of $10,000 there is the possibility of purchasing individual paintings on board or canvas but the majority of works will still be on paper.

As the budgets available increase so that individual works of art are being purchased for around $5000 a greater number of individual pieces will be able to be included in a collection.
Budget of $5000

Artist Title Medium Price
John Reynolds Axius mixed media on paper 800
John Pule Many Times at Night lithograph 550
Dick Frizzell Still Life with glasses screenprint 650
Don Binney Bird screenprint 700
Fatu Feu’u Piule woodcut 250
Pat Hanly Inside the Garden Multiple print 425
Elizabeth Thomson Eye in the Moon photolithograph 260
Rodney Fumpston Egypt One lithograph 125
Merylin Tweedie (et al) Solving Home Mixed media 400
Fiona Pardington Untitled Female Resting photograph 550

Budget of $10,000

Artist Title Medium Price
Gretchen Albrecht Sundial screenprint 900
Dick Frizzell Pascoid Tiki lithograph 850
Michael Smither Cabbage Tree with Snow screenprint 750
Graham Sydney Night Model etching 1000
Ronnie van Hout Dawn Raid photograph 650
Luise Fong Untitled Oil on board 1000
Karl Maughan Dahlia Patch Oil on canvas 1500
Tony Fomison King Lear lithograph 1000
John Walsh Merman oil 1550
John Reynolds Omaha Beach Oil stick on board 1100

Budget of $20,000
Artist Title Medium Price
Peter Robinson Stop Making Sense screenprint on canvas 2000
Laurence Aberhart Dargaville photograph 2400
Tony Fomison Last Supper lithograph 2400
Robin White Grey Sunday, Rata screenprint 1500
Dick Frizzell Theres 79 More screenprint 1400
Bill Hammond Singer Songwriter screenprint 2400
Simon Kaan Tiki etching 2000
Stanley Palmer Maungawhau September Monotype 2250
Paul Hartigan Dream Bike ultra chrome print 1820
Theo Schoon Mud Pools photograph 1200

Budget of $50,000

Artist Title Medium Price
Robin White Allen’s Beach screenprint 4200
Pat Hanly Golden Age screenprint 4000
Toss Woollaston Taramaku watercolour 4000
Gordon Walters Karaka screenprint 6000
Richard Killeen Birds and Acrylic on paper 3700
Karl Maughan Garden Study Oil on canvas 4350
Don Binney Te Henga Wax crayon on paper 7000
Michael Parekowhai Carais photograph 6000
Ralph Hotere Return to Sangro Mixed media on paper 8000
Tony de Lautour Badlands hand coloured screenprint 3750

Budget of $100,000
Artist Title Medium Price
John Walsh The Fixer Oil on board 18,000
Peter Siddell Harbour Pastel on paper 7,000
Colin McCahon Jet Pencil on paper 18,000
Gretchen Albrecht Maze Acrylic on canvas 12,000
George Baloghy Rangitoto Oil on canvas 8250
Judy Millar Untitled Yellow Oil/acrylic on canvas 3000
Peter Robinson The Queen is Dead Oil stick & acrylic on canvas 7000
Billy Apple Shopping Bag Shopping bag /screenprint 8500
Michael Stevenson Department Store at Night Oil on board 8000
Philip Trusttum Mower Oil on canvas 6000

Budget of $250,000
Artist Title Medium Price
Anne Robinson Cactus Vase Cast glass 23,500
Milan Mrkusich Meta Grey Acrylic on canvas 29,000
Shane Cotton Good Tree Bad Tree Oil on canvas 12,000
Ralph Hotere Winter Solstice, Careys Bay Oil pastel on paper 21,000
Bill Hammond Casio & Shacklock Oil on board 16,000
Richard Killeen Flying High and away acrylic on aluminium 34,000
Robin White Parramatta Landscape Oil on canvas 18,000
Toss Woollaston Sunset at Greymouth Oil on board 14,000
John Reynolds X.I.T. Oil stick on board 11,000
Tony Fomison The Moon and the road Home Oil on canvas 16,000

Budget of $500,000
Artist Title Medium Price
Brent Wong Mountain Cloud Acrylic on board 38,000
Michael Smither Sarah with Yellow Ball Oil on board 60,000
Colin McCahon Gate Oil on shaped board 80,000
Gordon Walters Study for Rewa Ink on paper 60,000
Grahame Sydney Sunset at the Turnoff Oil on linen 58,000
Pat Hanly Flower Pot Table Enamel on board 40,000
John Pule Lagamatai Ink & acrylic on canvas 18,000
Don Binney Mana Isalnd XV Oil on board 37,000
Richard Killeen Tracing The lines of My Face alkyd on aluminium 52,000
Gretchen Albrecht Abstract Composition Acrylic on canvas 41,000

Gow Langsford Gallery who are one of the leading contemporary dealers were asked for suggestions on the best use of $250, 000 in establishing an art collection. They came up with three options for art collections.

These ranged from the purchase of one work by the leading British sculptor Tony Cragg through to a mix of local and international artists.
1. Single purchase

Tony Cragg Bronze sculpture $250,000

2. Three major NZ works

Colin McCahon Oil on board $200,000
Judy Millar Oil on canvas $45,000
Sarah Hughes Acrylic on linen $4,500

3. A mixture of International and New Zealand work

Gerhard Richter (Germany) oil on canvas $90,000
John Pule oil on canvas $38,000
Dale Frank (Australia) Oil on canvas $25,000
Andy Warhol (USA) Screen print $24,000
Shane Cotton Acrylic on canvas $45,000
Allen Maddox Oil on canvas $26,500
Karl Maughan Screen print $1,500

You can also read John Daly-People's film reviews at:

This today from The Times may have The Queen of Chat worried ?

Sunday, December 17, 2006


This today from the New York Times Saturday Edition:
THIS FROM HELEN PARSONS,specialist bookseller:

Three Important Books – out-of-print

Christopher Johnstone
‘Landscape Paintings of New Zealand; A Journey from North to South’
Parsons Price $59.95 (RRP $69.95) Hardback.

This wonderful book will be out-of-print before Christmas.
But I have ensured that we, at Parsons, will to continue to carry good stock levels.

I haven’t been able to ascertain a reprint date. Probably not in the foreseeable future. It was published in early November 2006. This is a publishing success story.


Michael Dunn

‘New Zealand Sculpture, A History’
$99.95. Hardback.
The Auckland University Press edition was first published in 2002.
This book is now totally out-of-print.
We have received just 15 copies from our last, final order.
(there might possibly be a reprint, but not until the end of 2007 at least).

Derek Henderson
‘Terrible Boredom of Paradise’
$79.95. Hardback.

We are obtaining the very last 50 copies of Derek’s fine, much loved, photography book.He’s in Australia. The books are coming from England. So they won’t be here before Christmas.If you need this book, I do recommend placing an order with us.
Many customers have done so already and the available numbers are depleting fast.

And a Very Happy Christmas and Holiday Season……..

Helen Parsons, Bookseller
NZ, Maori & Pacific Bookbuyer
Parsons Bookshop in Auckland
26 Wellesley Street East
Auckland 1010
New Zealand

Phone +64 9 303 1557
Fax+64 9 357 0877
Mobile 021 248 3869

Selling Art Books, Art Theory, Design, Photography.
NZ, Maori & Pacific books - Art, Fiction, Non-fiction.
Calendars, Cards, Christmas Cards, Wrapping Paper.
NZ & International Reproductions.

Selling throughout New Zealand & Internationally
Parsons Bookshop, more than 30 years in Auckland

Paula and 18 others, including your's truly, picked their "best book for 2006" in the Sunday Star Times today. Have a look at Paula's blog, link below, to get her views on the subject:

Friday, December 15, 2006


This today from the Institute of Modern Letters of Victoria University of Wellington.

The 2006 issue of online literary journal Turbine ( ) is now live, featuring award-winning short fiction, a bestselling US novelist who struggles with being constantly compared to Sylvia Plath, an Irish physicist/poet’s encounter with a rather unusual Wellingtonian, and the usual host of established and emerging New Zealand literary talent.

Turbine 06 includes fiction by newly-announced Adam Foundation Prize winner Anna Horsley, plus the first publication of the winning entry in this year’s BNZ Katherine Mansfield Short Story Award for novice writers by Emma Gallagher. There’s also a story by the writer who was unofficial runner-up in the ‘published writer’ category, Sue Orr.

Work by three US writers who will be living, working, and giving public readings in Wellington during 2007 provides a foretaste of the literary year to come. US novelist Curtis Sittenfeld (author of the bestselling novels Prep and The Man of My Dreams, which are being translated into twenty-five languages) offers a piece titled ‘I was Sylvia Plath-ish’. Poets Zach Savich and Dora Malech complete the trio of imports – all of whom have passed through the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Victoria University’s 2006 Writer in Residence, Bernadette Hall, confesses all in an entertaining interview about Antarctica, her latest work – a gothic-romance – and the possibility of her ever becoming a nun. Turbine 06 also offers sneak-previews of soon-to-be published novels and poetry. Michele Amas and Angela Andrews have contributed new poems. Novelists Craig Cliff and Susan Pearce offer extracts from work in progress, and Abby Letteri’s extract is our first publication of work for younger readers. There’s also a digital poem from Brian Flaherty.

Many of the writers published in Turbine 06 have just completed the MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University. In some cases this is their first publication, but given the track record of previous graduates – who include writers such as Elizabeth Knox, Jenny Pattrick, Catherine Chidgey, Tim Corballis, Paula Morris, Jenny Bornholdt, William Brandt, Barbara Anderson and Tusiata Avia – you can be fairly sure you’ll be hearing more of them in the next few years.

We also delve into the engine-room of the course – and the mind of the emerging writer – in The Reading Room, which contains excerpts from the journals of the 2006 intake. These encompass ‘bouts of self-flagellation and grovelling promises’ (Tom Fitzsimons), gruelling battles with errant computers and existential angst (Craig Cliff) or with recalcitrant plots (Rebecca Lancashire), and first-hand encounters with published writers in the workshop room and at Writers and Readers Week 06.

Turbine 06 ( ) is published by the International Institute of Modern Letters, hosted by the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, and edited by Amy Brown and Chris Price.

This today from noted NZ playwright Roger Hall and North Shore City.

Golden weather guaranteed for Christmas Day

It’s guaranteed to be ‘Golden Weather’ on Christmas Day in North Shore City, with a a scene from the famous Bruce Mason play being performed on Takapuna Beach.

People will gather on the beach from 10am to celebrate a real Kiwi Christmas, with Stephen Lovatt – better known as Max Hoyland from Neighbours – acting out the solo piece.

The scene, from The End of the Golden Weather, is set on Takapuna Beach in the 1930s on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

It captures the excitement and tension of two small boys as they wait for Christmas Day – the church service, present giving, Christmas dinner – culminating in the show the children put on for their parents and relatives in the evening.

Organiser Roger Hall is hoping this will become an annual event on Christmas Day on Takapuna Beach.

“Bruce Mason was our pioneer playwright, and The End of the Golden Weather one of his most significant plays,” he says.

“North Shore is claiming for itself the title of literary capital of New Zealand and this is a way to honour one of our most distinguished writers.”

The part was written as a solo piece and performed by Bruce Mason himself more than 1000 times throughout New Zealand.

Stephen Lovatt performed it at The Herald Theatre to considerable acclaim earlier this year, and he is donating his fee for this Christmas Day event to Oxfam.

For further information please contact:
· Event organiser, Roger Hall, on 484 0007.

Over the past year or so I have become aware of and greatly impressed by a number of books all published under the Lantern imprint which proves to be an imprint of Penguin Books Australia.

Some of these impressive titles include:

My French Life by Vicki Archer

Italian Joy by Carla Coulson
Matt Moran by Matthew Moran
Daily Italian by Tobie Puttock

I traced down the Lantern publisher, Julie Gibbs, on her return from Thailand where she had been working on a forthcoming title on Thai Street Food, and asked her what her motivation was in setting up the Lantern imprint:

I was invited to set up the imprint by Gabrielle Coyne and Robert
Sessions and it was launched in June 2004. They thought it time for a
separate identity for the local illustrated lifestyle publishing I had
been doing under the Viking imprint. This segment of the market has
grown exponentially in the last ten years and has become increasingly
competitive. We saw Lantern as a way of marking these books in the trade
and drawing attention to their production values and subject matter,
particularly in the cookery area.

It has been very well received and I am humbled and delighted by the way
Lantern books have been embraced by booksellers, journalists and the
public in just two and a half years.

When did you publish the first book under the new imprint and what was

The first book was the second edition of Stephanie Alexander's The
Cook's Companion. It is a flagship title and to go out first with this
important book felt right. We had sold over 300,000 copies of the first
edition (original print run: 12,000 copies). It was hard to imagine how
we could reinvent it but once we got to work it was great fun. Stephanie
increased the book's recipes by a third and Matthew Johnson was
commissioned to come up with an abstract cover design.

What is your publishing philosophy and how do you decide whether or not
a book is suitable for the list?

The closest thing to a 'philosophy' is that these are the books I want
to read and be inspired by: books to celebrate life, ideas and the home
arts. I want them to be as wonderful to behold as they are to read.

How many titles a year do you envisage publishing?

About 12 new titles and six new paperback editions of previous

I am greatly taken by "My French Life" and the very high production
values you have brought to it. Did you suggest this book or did the author come
to you with the idea?

Carla Coulson came to me with the idea of collaborating with her friend
Vicki Archer about Vicki's amazing house in the South of France. They
are both perfectionists and the three of us knew at the outset what kind
of book we wanted it to be although the padded 'quilted' cover was a

It is in some ways a similar story to that told by Carla Coulson in
"Italian Joy". Do you see this 'ex-pat Aussie doing well overseas' as a new

It already was an established genre in paperback with books like Sarah
Turnbull's Almost French. Being passionate about illustrated books, I
wondered if we could take these narratives of ex pat French and Italain
life and illustrate them with inspiring pictures.

Italian Joy happened when Carla Coulson wheeled a suitcase of
photographs into my office in January 2004. Another author had told her
to show her pictures to me in case we wanted to use them for a cover or
something. I was overwhelmed by their beauty and by the way Carla had
managed to capture not only the atmosphere and intrinsic beauty of Italy
but the spirit of the people as well. When asked how she came to take
them she told me the whole story of her 'early mid-life crisis' and how
she ran away from Sydney to Italy. I suggested we do a book about her
story. She said she couldn't write so I told her to go away and make
some rough notes so that we could see how we might brief a ghost writer.
She came back in a fortnight with a wonderfully honest and vivid text
and we got to work. Carla is a true artist and I really admire the way
she has now moved to Paris (with her Italian boyfriend) and begun her
photography career all over again. Needless to say we have another book
on the way (to be published late 2008).

Anything else you would like to say?

I am privileged to be able publish right across the Penguin list eg.
literary books with Rob Drewe, self-help books with Kaz Cooke, astrology
with Jessica Adams, commercial women's fiction with Maggie Alderson as
well as the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet. Lantern is a separate and very
rewarding endeavour. Penguin Australia has been incredibly supportive in
letting me take quite big risks and allowing me to assemble a great team
to make these illustrated projects happen. The work of the photographers
is also key and I want to pay tribute especially to Simon Griffiths and
Earl Carter for being such muses as well as designers such as Sandy

I wish Julie and her wonderful Lantern imprint every success. I own the first two titles on my list of four above and if I'm not given the other two for Christmas (ever hopeful) then I'll be into my bookstore to buy them in the New Year.
Do search these books out at your favourite bookstore, I'm sure you'll agree with my enthusiasm for them.

Next week I'll devote some space to talking at greater length about My French Life because it is the most beautiful book I've seen during 2006. Glorious production, gorgeously illustrated and so very well written.Simply magnificent.


1 A Kiwi Night Before Christmas Book, Bach & CD, Yvonne Morrison & Deborah Hinde (Scholastic) pb

2 A Kiwi Jingle Bells, Yvonne Morrison & Deborah Hinde (Scholastic)

3 Adventures of Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People #8, Dav Pilkey (Scholastic) pb

4 Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony, Eoin Colfer (Puffin Books) tpb

5 Slinky Malinki's Christmas Crackers, Lynley Dodd (Mallinson Rendel) hb

Number One above ,A Kiwi Night Before Christmas, is running up impressive sales records with the publishers advising that sales across all three editions published are around the 50,000 mark.
And the latest Slinky Malinki has already run up New Zealand sales of 10,000 copies.And overseas sales are more than three times that number.

The colours in the illustration of Kiwi Jingle Bells shown above are all wrong! My computer has messed up! Apologies to all concerned.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

TROUBLESOME WORDS by Bill Bryson Penguin NZ$28

On November 23 I wrote about Bill Bryson and his upcoming February NZ promotional tour being organised by Random House.

In my piece I listed all the Bryson titles ( I thought) but subsequently Penny posted a comment on my blog saying I had omitted his first book, the only one not published by Random House, and a title that she suggested was an invaluable reference for editors and others.

A little research showed that "Troublesome Words" was first published in 1984, has been revised twice, is still in print and is published by Penguin Books.

The book in fact started its life as "The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words" but in 1997 the title was shortened to the present one. The current edition was published in 2002.
(As an aside I have just discovered that I have a copy on my reference shelf of the original 1984 hard back edition published by Allen Lane, the Penguin hardback imprint of the day; it is a long while since I looked at it because I had forgotten all about it!).

It may sound like something of a boring book but believe me it is anything but that. Incredibly useful for anyone using the language in any way in their work, particularly and obviously authors,editors and journalists, and written in the entertaining style that we have come to associate with Bryson.

Here is part of his introduction to the latest edition:

"When I first put together "The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words", in 1983, I was a diligent young subeditor on The Times, and it was a fundamental part of my job to be sensitive and particular about points of usage. It was, after all, why they employed me, and I took the responsibility seriously.

So seriously, in fact, that when I realized that there were vast expanses of English usage - linguistic Serengetis - that I was not clear about at all, I wrote to a kindly editor at Penguin Books named Donald McFarlan and impetuously suggested that there was a need for a simple guide to the more confusing or problematic aspects of the language and that I was prepared to undertake it.
To my astonishment and gratification, Mr.McFarlan sent me a contract and, by way of advance, a sum of money carefully gauged not to cause embarrassment or feelings of overworth. Thus armed I set out trying to understand this wonderfully disordered thing that is the English langauge".

Make no mistake, this book is a gem.

Here are a few examples of words dealt with, when they should be used, or not used etc:

disinterested,uninterested (this piece should be read by Dr.Brian Edwards following his unbelievable remarks on the subject in the New Zealand Herald recently).

And of course there are loads of individual words dealt with as well,often those that are frequently misused e.g.of fulsome he says "Fulsome is one of the most frequently misapplied words in English.The sense that is usually accorded it - of being abundant or unstinting - is almost the opposite of the word's dictionay meaning. Fulsome is related to foul and means odious or overfull, offensive, insincere. Fulsome praise, properly used, isn't a lavish tribute; it is unctuous and insincere todying".


There have been five comments posted on this title to date including this particularly interesting one from Amy at Woza Books.To read the other comments scroll back to my review and click on the comments link, but here is Amy's comment for your interest.

"This is great stuff. It sounds like he is in much the same vein as UC-Berkeley Professor Michael Nagler, who wrote "Is There No Other Way? The Search for a Nonviolent Future" (for more info go to the Metta Center website--you can even listen to his classes audiostreamed at UC-Berkeley if you follow the links). I am trying to get the word out about my new children’s fantasy adventure “The Call to Shakabaz,” which teaches young people the fundamental principles of nonviolence as practiced by Dr. King and Gandhi and is a rollicking good read to boot. This book is exceptionally different because it does not depend on a gory violent battle scene for the climax. Instead it demonstrates a peaceful resolution to conflict. In addition, all the characters in the book are Black. There are very few books for children in this genre with all Black characters. The book will be officially “launched” on January 15, 2007, in honor of Dr. King’s birthday, but copies are already in print and are selling like hotcakes in my little part of the world. Children, parents, teachers, and librarians are reading this book and loving it (Bob Spear at “Heartland Reviews” identified the book as a recommended title for reluctant readers because you can’t put it down). Please help me get the word out! Visit my website at This book is a great way to introduce children and teens to new perspectives on the uselessness of war and the power of peaceful conflict resolution. Amy "

Posted by Amy at Woza Books to Beattie's Book Blog at 11:03 AM

Amy has asked me to get the word out so here it is. Hope this helps Amy. And in particular any children's booksellers viewing my blog should visit Amy's website and have a look for themselves.Ciao.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


For many years I have driven a small Alpha Romeo, the current one, now 5 years old is a 147 model. This car, and the four before it, were all supplied and serviced by Continental Car Services in Newmarket. This image is taken from their company Christmas Card several years ago. Its an image that I have always been rather fond of so thought this year I should share it with a larger audience.I hope it appeals to you too.

I hope you have a wonderful relaxing break over the holidays and that 2007 proves to be wonderful for you in all the ways you wish.

Beatties Book Blog will be on holiday for a month from 22 December. I am hoping there will be loads of books for me under the Christmas tree, I shall report back!

P.S.We live near a street where every year the residents go to enormous trouble and expense to decorate their homes with Christmas lights and people pour in from all over with their kids to view the spectacle. It is wonderful of an evening to wander along that street and listen to the excited reaction of people young and old. A special Christmas greeting then to the good folk of Franklin Road in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby.
Some pics follow but they do not do justice to the annual magic transformation of Franklin Road. If you live in or near Auckland then a visit is a must.
Merry Christmas!

On Monday evening I attended a somewhat unusual book launch. Somewhat unusual in that the venue was not somewhere one would normally hold such an event, and the book being launched contains no words.

The book is YOU ARE HERE by noted NZ art photographer Harvey Benge with whom I spoke following the launch at WORLD in central Auckland's High Street.

I notice your book is published by the German publisher .
How did this come about?

The art photography arena is very small internationally, one is able
to meet people involved in the business easily and quickly.
I met publisher Markus Schaden through a curator and gallerist friend also in Cologne

Art books are normally launched in art galleries or bookshops but you
launched yours in a fashion store?

Yes, because I wanted to do something out of the ordinary. I have my
books in Colette,the house of style and design in Paris. WORLD is New Zealand's
equivalent and besides I really like Francis and Denise and admire their taste and sensibilities.......

You said in your remarks that all the photographs were taken in the same city,
Tokyo, and this was a first for you. Can you tell us something about how you
went about collecting these pics. Were they taken on one visit?

No, two visits...... on my way to Paris. I love Tokyo and have
friends there, it seemed natural to stop over and investigate the visual buzz of that place.

Presumably you take many more photos than are finally used? How difficult is
the selection process?

I might use one percent if I'm lucky. Because I'm looking at
building some sort of narrative in my books and as my ideas are often somewhat abstract finding pictures that work for me is often difficult.

What sort of camera do you normally use?

I always just point and shoot..... so I use a top of the line
amateur Nikon and an Olympus miji

You are comparatively unknown as an artist in NZ and yet you enjoy a high
profile in Europe where you exhibit and lecture every year and even live in
Paris and other European cities for several months each year. Is this a case
of the prophet being unknown in his own country?

It's not really the case that I'm unknown here..... amongst people
who know photography my work is well known.....for example I've just been included in the handsome new edition
INTO THE LIGHT - A history of New Zealand Photography. As I work for
long periods in Europe I think it's a case of over extending myself and working on
too many fronts at once.,Napoleon learnt about that the hard way.

Where did you get the title? This is your 11th title.
How difficult do you find coming up with something that pleases you?

YOUR ARE HERE, a street sign in Tokyo where the only English was
Rest in Japanese, so in effect I didn't know where the hell I
was..... a metaphor for life in fact.
People seem to like the titles of my books...... normally they come
to me very easily....

Harvey Benge sees things in cities that I am sure I would not even notice. He has an "eye" for the unusual which is wonderfully illustrated in his latest work.
Here are three pics from YOU ARE HERE

Two editions have been published:

250 run of the normal edition, signed and numbered - $55

25 of deluxe slip-case edition - with signed and numbered print of
Tokyo Girl No1 - $250

Original prints available of selected images, edition of 10, 195mm x
245mm signed and numbered $480

other images and sizes, prices on request.

For copies of the book, prints or information email Harvey at:

The book is also available from WORLD deluxe, Little High Street,57 High Street, Auckland.

Harvey Benge information:
Tel: France: 06 29 83 74 31 New Zealand: 021 146 0672
http://harveybenge.comYOU ARE HERE from Cologne

Following on from my post on this subject yesterday here are today's questions and answers from the New York Times, simply click on the link above.
Some of the issues raised are on bias in reviewing, books declined for review, why more non-fiction is reviewed than fiction, and the choice of books to review.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

NON-VIOLENCE - The History of a Dangerous Idea -
Mark Kurlansky
Jonathan Cape NZ$45

This morning (Tuesday 12 December) I reviewed this title on National Radio with Kathryn Ryan. Many do not get to hear these radio reviews so for you here are some notes on the book.

First off let me say I am a huge admirer of Kurlansky and have read everything he has had published which runs to two books for children, two works of fiction, one collection of food writing edited by him, and eight works of non-fiction .
He was in New Zealand last year for the Christchurch Readers and Writers Festival but sadly I was away at that time and didn't get to meet him. He is on my list of people with whom I would most like to have dinner!

He is often referred to as a micro-historian which I guess is to say that he writes micro-histories.
Among his titles that fit this description are his two biggest selling titles, "Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World", and "Salt: A World History".
Earlier this year I reviewed on National Radio his previous title, "The Big Oyster: New York in the World, A Molecular History" and I remember saying on air that this book couldn't fail with me because it was about one of my most favourite cities along with my most favourite food delicacy.

Kurlansky was for many years a highly acclaimed journalist writing for such newspapers as The Miami Herald, The New York Times, and The International Herald Tribune.

About 15 years ago he gave away his journalism for a full-time career as a writer and his 13 books are testament to his focus and dedication to his work.

One might call Non-Violence a micro book, that is if you were referring to its format but you certainly couldn't use that phrase to describe the subject matter.

He takes a look at pacifism in world history and shows how modern ideas such as the EU and UN came out of non-violence movements.
He shows how all the major religions of the world- Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Bhuddism and of course especailly the Mennonites and Quakers, all have passages in their writings and beliefs rejecting warfare as immoral.

He discusses these along with the teachings of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, and many others including the Maori Chief Te Whiti who led the peace movement at Parihaka in the 1860's and 70's. Te Whiti also has the honour of being the source of the quote at the head of chapter 5.
Apparently when Kurlansky was in New Zealand someone told him about Parihaka so when his speaking commitments were over he buried himself in the Auckland War Memorial Museum Library for several days researching the subject and here is the result.

I love this sentence from the beginning of his piece on Te Whiti when describing this " remote corner of the far-flung British Empire" - The few islands beyond Australia are not near anyone else nor on the way to anywhere. I think we Kiwis can all agree with that!

Although he doesn't actually come out and say it it is nevertheless pretty clear that Kurlansky is a pacifist himself.

At the end of the book he gives us his "25 Lessons" that he considers we have learned
from the history of non-violence. Years ago I was involved with coaching secondary school debating teams both in Hawkes Bay and in Auckland and how I wished I had had his list of 25 lessons back then because each one of them would make a great debating subject or even a good discussion subject in history or philosophy classes.

Some examples:

Somewhere behind every war ther are always a few founding lies.

People who go to war start to resemble their enemy.

Violence is a virus that infects and takes over.

There is also an extensive bibliography and comprehensive index, both musts in a serious work of non-fiction.

I should also mention that the book has a foreword from the contemporary "Father" of peace and non-violence, the Dalai Lama, impressive stuff.

As stated at the outset I am a great admirer of Kurlansky's books and have enjoyed enormously everyone of his previous titles. With this latest title, while I still admire his writing style and arguement, I think to really get the most from it you would need to be more interested than I am in US history and foreign policy and/or the subjects of non-violence and pacifism.

The latest newsletter from the International Institute of Modern Letters has just been published and it is well worth a visit. My favourite section, Recent Web Reading, included the above gem, a book list of book lists.

Sam Tanenhaus has the enviable job of being the Book Review Editor at the New York Times and in this column (click on link above) he answers reader's questions on selection of books for review, the purpose of reviewing and books in translation.
I found both the questions and his very full answers most interesting.Worth a look.

Click on this link from the Guardian for a take-off of the various best books of 2006 columns that are appearing everywhere just at present.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Click on the above to read this story from the Saturday edition of London's Daily Telegraph.

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson Vintage NZ$23.00

Collecting Books by Matthew Budman - House of Collectibles (part of Random House US) NZ$33

The Company They Kept-Writers on Unforgettable Friendships Edited by Robert Silvers & Barbara Epstein - A New York Review Books NZ$55

The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby Penguin/Viking NZ$40

As reading time permits I'll comment on all of these. Meantime I did manage to read the Nick Hornby on the plane coming home and over the weekend and what a book? Wow!

Nick Hornby will be known to may as the author of High Fidelity, About a Boy, How to be Good, and A Long Way Down (shortlisted for 2005 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award) as well as the non-fiction Fever Pitch, and 31 Songs..
It is my computer that makes him look purple by the way!
He is actually a rather white born and bred Brit rather than the alien he looks here!

This new book is an absolute treasure trove for the book lover.
It is a collection of the monthly essays he wrote from September 2003 until June this year in the remarkable US magazine Believer.

At the top of each monthly chapter for 28 months Hornby lists Books Bought and Books Read. He then proceeds to discuss them and anything else that pops into his head while writing.
It is simply wonderfully entertaining stuff without a trace of snobbery or affectation. It was a joy to read and I know I will be returning to this book over and over in the years ahead.
There are also selections from some of the books mentioned and an excellent index at the end of all the titles he discusses.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


6.15am Monday, just off to airport but this entertaining story from the NY Times overnight

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Bookman Beattie will be in Christchurch Thursday and Friday this week, visiting the splendid UBS Bookshop at Ilam amongst other things, so no doubt I'll come away with a nice pile of new books to report on next week. Meantime though I'll be off the air until Monday next.

It is now 5 weeks since I launched this site and 74 blogs later I'm gradually getting the hang of what I'm doing.
To all of those who have made comments on the site, and the much greater number who have e-mailed me, and to the staggering number who have visited the site I offer my thanks for your interest and support.
The huge interest from librarians, teachers, booksellers and publishers has been pleasing.
Can I urge you to comment on the site whenever you feel inclined. You can do do anonymously if you wish. Be as frank as you wish!

"Talk" to you Monday.


With the forthcoming movie, Miss Potter,(starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor),a boom in visitors to the glorious Lake District and of course sales of Peter Rabbit , Miss Tiggywinkle, Pigling Bland, Samuel Whiskers, Johnny Townmouse, Little Pig Robinson, Squirrel Nutkin & co is anticipated.

It is 104 years since The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published and the fact that the whole series is still in print today is a testament to the enduring popularity these little gems of books.
I still have a complete set here from when I used to read them to my own kids when they were little tots back in the 70's!

This from the Guardian today.

I note with interest that the Guardian story is written by journalist/author Martin Wainwright and wonder whether he might be any relation to the late,legendary A.Wainwright, who wrote and illustrated the much-loved books on walking in the Lake District?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

$95,000 to bring NZ history to life

This story appeared in the NZ Herald today.

Living in Ponsonby I was especially interested to read that among the eleven projects awarded by the New Zealand Historical Research Trust Fund Jennifer Carlyon and Diana Morrow have been given given $10,000 to write:

A History of Freemans Bay, Ponsonby and St.Mary's Bay

The Fund has given awards in History since 1990 with projects numbering 193 having been assisted to the tune of $1.37M.
Details of previous awardees, application forms and other information is available from their webiste - click on the link above.

A History of Freemans Bay, Ponsonby & St.Mary's Bay will be an illustrated and is to be published by Random House in late 2008.
Keep an eye out for it because these local histories sell quickly and are rarely reprinted.
A history of the Auckland area known as Epsom went out of print within two months of publication earlier this year.

But then its Norman Mailer so I guess we shouldn't be surprised. Not everyone approves though................Sebastian Faulks is only one of a number who disapprove of this trend.

But with the recent fuss over Ian McEwan's "borrowings" perhaps this trend is not altogether surprising?

Read this story from the New York Times, I'd be interested in your reaction if you have a moment to comment.

If you haven't already subscribed (it's free!) do so now by e-mailing: or or using the link above.

Slide the Corner, by Fleur Beale,published by Scholastic NZ has been awarded the 2007 Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book, by the Storylines Trust of New Zealand.

Instituted in 1998, the Gaelyn Gordon Award commemorates the life and works of Gaelyn Gordon (1939-1997), and honours a book by a New Zealand author that has proved itself a long-standing favourite with New Zealand children, yet not won a major award.
There was a wonderful piece about the Queen speaking English more like her subjects in London's Daily Telegraph reprinted in the New Zealand Herald this morning. It made me hoot with laughter.
For those of you who do not see the New Zealand Herald or The Daily Telegraph here is the whole piece from the Telegraph. It is worth a read.

Monday, December 04, 2006


The issue on sale today, dated December 9,is a must-read for book lovers with a massive eleven pages devoted to their top picks for the year. A number of them slipped by me unoticed but I'm pleased to say that I have read and enjoyed their Best of the Best, the top three.
Don't miss this feature.

News from Penguin Books:

Behind the puffery in their press release there is a most encouraging story here:

Linda Olsson cracks tough US market

The international rights to Linda Olsson’s Let me sing you gentle songs have now been sold to publishers in Germany, Holland, Italy, the UK and the USA. First published in September 2005, Let me sing you gentle songs is now one of Penguin New Zealand’s best selling debut novels.

Swedish publishers Bonniers Förlag AB published Let me sing you gentle songs in August 2006 sold a significant 18,000 hardback copies in three months. A third reprint is underway and the paperback edition is scheduled for April 2007.

Linda’s American agent, Kathleen Anderson of Greenberg Anderson Literary Management has sold the American rights and the novel, re-titled Astrid and Veronika, will be released in the US in January 2007. Penguin US has ordered a first print run of 55,000 copies.

Let me sing you gentle songs is among the 138 international novels long-listed for the 2007 Dublin IMPAC Award. It was short-listed for the Asia Pacific section of the Commonwealth Prize.

The international success of Let me sing you gentle songs should inspire other New Zealand authors to pursue international publication. Northern Europe is terra incognita for New Zealand publishers, with considerable potential opportunities. Eva Bonnier, the Managing Director at Bonniers has used her considerable influence to lobby for Janet Frame's candidacy for the Nobel Prize and maintains that apart from Frame's work, not a lot has been submitted to them from New Zealand. A successful publication in one Scandinavian country usually flows on to the others and then often on to Germany and Holland. A vast market compared to New Zealand.

About Linda Olsson

Linda was born in Stockholm, Sweden and is a permanent resident in New Zealand since 1990. She lives in Ponsonby, Auckland. Linda graduated from the post-graduate course ‘Writing the Novel’ at Auckland University in 2004 and Let me sing you gentle songs was written during this time.

And other news of interest from Penguin:

Marina Lewycka, author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian is in New Zealand on 13 and 14 February 2007 to promote her new book Two Caravans. She will have two events, one in Wellington and one in Auckland. More details to come. Email for more information.
Robert McCrum, Literary Editor The Observer, successful author, and former publisher at Faber and Faber, with his views on plagiarism.(which he describes as "one of literature's seven deadly sins"), and the Ian McEwan row.

A thoughtful read taken from the Guardian Online edition today.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Here are three very different titles each of which I have enjoyed this past week and am happy to recommend.

Final Approaches - a memoir - Gerald Hensley
Auckland University Press NZ$50.00

Do not be put off by the rather text book appearance of this insider's view from one of our most highly respected senior civil servants.
Among other things Hensley was our High Commissioner in Singapore 1976-80, Head of the Prime Minister's Department 1980-87, Head of Domestic & External Security 1987-89 and Secretary of Defence 1991-99. Quite an impressive record.

Then last year he was awarded The QE11 Army Memorial Museum Literary Award valued at $70,000.00 which he is going to use to write a history of NZ's military diplomacy during Word War 2.

In his memoir covering some 40 years he provides a fresh look for political junkies and others at contemporary NZ history, both internal and external. His two chapters, The Last Years of Muldoon and The Elusive David Lange I found absolutely fascinating.

Back in the 1970's NZ Jaycee ran an annual event called The Outstanding Young Man of the Year Award. David Lange and I were both shortlisted one year, probably 1971 or 72, along with eight others. We all spent a weekend together in Rotorua being interviewed by judges as well as sight-seeing and socialising and generally being treated as V.I.P's (which we certainly weren't!).
The contest was won by Dryden Spring, later to be knighted for his services to the dairy industry. Although Lange and I both cringed somewhat in later years at having been involved in the event,we did nevertheless get to know one another well over the weekend and I remained a steadfast admirer of his for the rest of his life.
So it was with huge interest then that I read of the times that Hensley was Head of his Department during his time as PM.

These were of course the days of The Rainbow Warrior ,the ANZUS row, the first coup in Fiji, Cyclone Bola, the Oxford Union debate,and the sinking of the Russian cruise ship Mikhail Lermontov in the Marlborough Sounds.

A fine piece of publishing which will be a most useful addition to the published records of our domestic and international affairs in the second half of the 20th century.

Picture from the blog archives shows the late Michael King, author, and myself, publisher, at the press conference held at the Hyatt Hotel, Auckland to launch The Death of the Rainbow Warrior in 1986.
I recall Warwick Rodger, Editor Metro, asking me at the time what we thought we were doing running a press conference for the launching of a book! I had the feeling he only attended out of respect for Michael King although as it transpired some press stories did arise from the book as a result of new information Michael provided about the case.

THE FAINTER Damien Wilkins Victoria University Press NZ $27.00

This is Wilkins' 5th novel, (it comes after a gap of four years), and it maintains the high standard he set with Chemistry,Nineteen Widows Under Ash,The Miserables and Little Masters.

Our protagonist, Luke, is a young and ambitious diplomat on his first overseas posting in New York where preparations are underway for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations,Jim Bolger was Prime Minister at the time.

One night Luke witnesses an horrific murder which leads to frequent fainting spells so he is sent home to New Zealand to recover living on the Canterbury farm owned by his sister and brother-in-law.

Here we meet an array of wonderfully drawn characters, salt-of-the-earth, decent rural folk on the face of it but with all sorts of uneasy relationships within their community. During this time Luke seems somewhat uncertain of his own sexuality which adds some confusion to his relationship with two of the characters but by the time we get to part two of the novel, set 10 years later, that seems to have been settled.

This is a big, solid and satisfying read although I felt left hanging somewhat at the end. Perhaps Wilkins will give us a sequel? I should welcome that.

And now, as someone once said, time for something different.

THE HOUSE OF PEINE Sarah-Kate Lynch Black Swan NZ $28.00

Ever since I read Lynch's third novel, By Bread Alone, I have been a fan and now with her fifth novel she again pleases. This is the story of 40 something Clementine's battle to save her family's Champagne house after her father dies and leaves the business to Clementine and her two estranged sisters.
As with her previous books Lynch has done her research thoroughly. She learned French then spent time in Champagne and Paris, (why wouldn't you?!), and then with that behind her has woven an intricate plot, developed interesting characters,employed her strength with dialogue, thrown in a few twists and hey presto another entertaining read that like her previous titles is bound to sell just as well in the U.K. and other markets as it does at home here in New Zealand.

Don't be fooled by some who classify Lynch's books as chick-lit. It ain't. Her characters are not in the right age group to start with! No, it's just good old fashioned entertaining reading.
P.S. If you like the occasional glass of Champange be sure to read the author's afterword where she talks of the research into this subject and of those who helped along the way..


A review of the new Sony Reader from the New York Times suggests that publishers, and book lovers, have little to worry about at this stage.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


New Zealand Electronic Text Centre

Many thanks to Paul who brought this most interesting site to my attention during a productive session on blogging when we met Monday.
Here is the New York Times take on the Ian McEwan story, see blog from earlier today:

Here it is,from The Independent, the shortlist we have all been waiting for!
O.J.SIMPSON - this one will just not go away !

From Variety:

This from the Guardian. Interesting stuff.,,1957845,00.html
Confused as to which movie to see?

Then here are two excellent New Zealand sites that will help:

I can't believe punters are wasting their hard-earned money on Nicky Hager's latest diatribe, The Hollow Men.
This is tabloid journalism in book form, and in any case it has already been largely dissected by the weekend papers with any so-called juicy bits having already been well reported.
If you are a non-fiction reader save your money for a title that is worth reading, something for example from the entertaining GINGER SERIES published by Wellington's Awa Press.
My favourites so far are:

How to Look at a Painting by Justin Paton
How to Drink a Glass of Wine by John Saker
How to Catch a Fish by Kevin Ireland
How to Read a Book by Kelly Ana Morey

Another wonderful series of non-fiction titles come from Four Winds Press.

I refer to their Montana Estate Essay Series.

I particularly enjoyed Kevin Ireland's "helpful" On Getting Old, Lydia Wever's On Reading, Kate Camp On Kissing but there are loads of other gems too including essays by Harry Ricketts, Jack Lasenby, Simon Morris,Margret Mahy, Vincent O'Sullivan, Paula Boock, and Damien Wilkins.

This from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Monday, November 27, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006


This from The Book Standard, yet another set of awards!

By Audrey Eagle, two hardbound volumes in slipcase, Te Papa Press NZ 200.00

Way back in 1975 William Collins (New Zealand) Ltd.,as they were then known, published a most stunning book, Eagle's Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand in Colour.

In those days I was a bookseller at Beattie & Forbes Bookshop in Napier and I was so taken with Audrey Eagle's glorious illustrations when the publishers sent me proof pages prior to publication that I immediately wrote to the author/illustrator in Ngaruawahia to offer my congratulations.

I was reminded of this last week when I read a review of the new edition in the November issue of Forest & Bird. I went and hunted out my copy of the original publication and was delighted to find that 31 years ago I had popped inside the book correspondence between my self and the author and the publishers.
In her letter to me dated 1 August 1975 writes -

Thank you for your enthusiastic letter about my book.Your comments are the first I have received from someone who has not "grown up" with the book and it is gratifying to know that you consider it so acceptable".

Subsequently I arranged for a second launch of the book, (the first was held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum),at the Hawkes Bay Art Gallery & Museum in Napier on 24 November accompanied by an exhibition of the original artwork from the book.

It was a very happy occasion with many copies of the book being sold at a special launch price of NZ $42.50, the post publication price was NZ$50.00, it seemed a huge price back in those days!

For the interest of book trade folk, those that were around in the 70's anyway, the people I corresponded with at Collins included David Mackie(Sales Director),Pat Kent(Publicity), Margaret Jones (Editorial),Larry Gordon (sales rep).Ted Ford was the publisher at the time,and David Bateman was the M.D.
And the Hawkes Bay Art Gallery & Museum was directed by James Munro who curated the exhibition.

Then in 1982 Collins published a second volume, Eagle's Trees & Shrubs of New Zealand Second Series.
Tucked inside my copy of this volume I found a review by Robyn Baker which appeared in the NZ Times 16 January 1983.
Robyn Baker writes, inter alia:

The text of the two volumes mentions all the species and varieties of trees and shrubs accepted in "H.H.Allan's Flora of New Zealand Vo.1", and in addition contains illustrations and descriptions of trees and shrubs discovered or recognised as species since the 1961 publication of that book.

The second series also includes a number of plants which have not been illustrated before. Audrey Eagle relied on Tony Druce, a botanist with the DSIR, to identify these plants.

It took Audrey Eagle eight years to complete the second series. The last two years were involved with the text, which describes where the plants are found, the heights and general shapes.
Audrey Eagle has given the original paintings to the Turnbull Library.

In Audrey Eagle we have an inspiring example of a person who has made a 30 year commitment to produce these two volumes, and through her definitive work New Zealanders have a truly remarkable and invaluable inheritance.

And so to the two new volumes.
They contain every botanical artwork from the earlier books, with over 170 new paintings, depicting every presently known native tree and shrub in New Zealand.
They are, as the publisher says, the result of decades of skilled draughtmanship and loving, painstaking observation, as well as many years of field and laboratory research by New Zealand scientists.They represent Auydrey Eagle's life's work, but more than that, they are an outstanding contribution to the study of botany in New Zealand and an important addition to any library.

In her Preface the author says in part,
my aim has been always to help people learn about the wonderful and unique plants of this country, and to help them learn to love the forested and alpine areas as I do. So much pleasure comes from the natural beauty of the environment but it all needs protecting. Knowledge, as well as sentiment, is the key to conservation.

Amen Audrey I say.

Audrey Eagle was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to botanical art in June, 2001. I am sure all who view these new books will agree this was a richly deserved honour.

Michael Szabo reviewing the new Te Papa Press title in the November issue of Forest & Bird said:
The production values embodied in the two volumes and slipcases are second to none.
At $200 not everyone will want to buy it. If , however, you have a passion for botanical illustrations then you will be well served by this definitive book.

Personally I think it is a steal at $200 !!