Thursday, November 13, 2008


Bernard Brown – Cape Catley - $34.99
Bernard Brown is a very funny, irrepressible and articulate man with a sharp mind who has led a distinguished legal and academic career in New Zealand since 1962. This is his highly entertaining, often hilarious, semi-autobiographical account of a remarkable life. I say semi-autobiographical because it also contains fiction and verse.

The food lives of a kiwi here and there
David McGill – Silver Owl Press – NZ $36.99

You have to hand it to David McGill. He is an author/publisher/journalist/social historian with dozens of books to his credit, his is a prodigious output. Last year he published a personal pop music history, (The Treadmill Tapes), which music historian and commentator Chris Bourke described as “barmy but charming”. This latest book could probably be called a personal food history. The author describes it as “food memoirs based on diaries, letters, journalism and recipe clippings from a lifetime of national and global roaming”. It is witty and entertaining, I especially enjoyed his account of being a student in the 60’s. And it is liberally scattered with recipes, “ancient and modern”.
At some future time whn someone comes to write David McGill’s biography there will be an abundance of research material available.
The book is being launched at Turnbull House, opposite The Beehive in Wellington on Saturday 22 November at 3.00pm and you are invited to be there. You can guarantee it will be no ordinary launch with fun and hilarity in abundance. I hope to report on the launch at a later date.

Critical Essays on Robin Hyde
Edited by Mary Edmond-Paul
Otago University Press - $40

Robin Hyde was a major figure in New Zealand writing as a poet, novelist and journalist. She first wrote under her actual name of Iris Wilkinson. Born in South Africa she came to New Zealand as a baby and lived in Wellington and Christchurch. She left New Zealand for England in 1938 and tragically took her own life there in 1939..
Hyde’s work has undergone a revival in recent years with the publication of collected poems, reprints of novels and a major biography.
Lighted Windows is the first critical study of her work and it includes new information on her life and work and significantly increases our understanding of her writing.
I don’t know Edmond-Paul apart from the two anthologies she edited and her non-fiction title, Her Side of the Story, which explored the importance of reading three woman writers in terms of the material culture of which their work was a part. I see in the cover blurb that she is on the staff of Massey University’s Auckland campus.
She has done us proud with this important academic text.

The sayings of Taitokerau
Merata Kawharu with photographs by Krzysztof Pfeiffer
Auckland University Press- $44.99

The author, Dr.Merata Kawharu is Director of Research at Auckland University’s James Henare Maori Research Centre.
She is also a member of the NZ Historic Places Trust and the Michael King Writer’s Centre Trust. Her impressive and profusely illustrated book is a collection of 200 proverbs and sayings from the Taitokerau region stretching from Auckland to Cape Reinga with new translations in English along with explanations of the origins and meanings of the sayings.This title is culturally and academically important.
Superb photographs by Auckland-based international photographer
Krzysztof Pfeiffer complement the book beautifully.

A guide to creating your perfEct home
David Killick – Random House - $34,99

The author has been editor of The Press’ monthly lifestyle supplement at home for the past 12 years and in this book he guides the homeowner through the myriad choices they must make when building, renovating or landscaping.
It is an appealing book ,with full colour photographs throughout, divided into two parts. In part one the author brings together practical, comprehensive information when planning a new home or renovation to an existing one while part two features 12 very impressive South island homes.
All in all an inspirational book and at this price extremely good value.

A collection of inspirations
Natalie Bloom – Allen & Unwin - $29.99

A totally charming, gorgeous little hardcover book that should find its way into many a woman’s Christmas stocking this year.
The author started Bloom cosmetics in 1994 when she was just 22, and is now recognized as an outstanding Australian business success story with an export business in more than 15 countries. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and three children.
Beautifully designed, eclectic and inspirational.

Murdoch Books - $34.95

This book is astonishing, there is no other word for it. Totally unprecedented in my 40 years in the book trade it is an all-in-one illustrated resource that makes almost everything possible.
From mixing the perfect martini, giving yourself a manicure, hanging wallpaper, sewing curtains, setting up a beehive, removing gum from a child’s hair, splinting a lower leg injury, using a squat toilet, standing up on a surfboard, catching fish bare-handed, reading music, juggling – you name it, it is in this indispensable guide. Instructions for life from the everyday to the exotic all told with a minimum of text, the detail is in the graphics.
The perfect quirky Christmas gift for that impossible person who has everything.

Iain Sharp – AUP - $64.99

In some ways I have left the best to the last. This is a beautiful book, and a very important one too in New Zealand’s European history. Author Iain Sharp is a remarkable guy. He is one of our best serious book reviewers, he is a manuscripts librarian in the Special Collections section of the Auckland City:Library, he is a poet ,author, historian, editor and journalist. And he has a doctorate from the University of Auckland in English Literature. Whew!

In this truly gorgeous piece of publishing he tells the story of Charles Heaphy – artist, explorer, surveyor, politician and soldier, and of course NZ’s first Victoria Cross winner.
It is major art and history biography which I have been delighted to read and will now add to my bookshelf with great pleasure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I 've just bought a copy of Iain Sharp's book - I've been intrigued by Heaphy for a long time. It is generally good, but there are several really silly errors (might've been picked up by a au fait editor?) which do need to be corrected before a second - well, printing, I'd suggest, rather than a 2nd edition-