Friday, April 30, 2010


Beautiful Malice, the highly anticipated young adult novel which sparked a worldwide publishing rights frenzy, will be released in New Zealand on Monday 3 May.  New Zealand and Australia will be the first countries to publish this novel in the world.

Beautiful Malice
 made international headlines last year during the bidding war for worldwide publishing rights (see the Sydney Morning Herald feature titled 'Million-dollar Mum hailed as new JK Rowling' here:
Granta launches first iPhone app

30.04.10 | Catherine Neilan in The Bookseller

Granta has launched its first iPhone app, for its lead title of the year, Rupert Thomson's memoir This Party's Got to Stop.
The app is a free sampler, which includes a number of features and rich content such as text and audio samples, a video tour by Thomson of key locations from the memoir and multi-media interviews. Readers of the app are then given the opportunity to purchase the full text in app form or as a print hardback, with direct links to Twitter and email facilities for readers to share their experience with others.

Iain Chapple, head of digital marketing and development for Granta, said: "The This Party’s Got to Stop app represents just our first venture into the opportunities that the smartphone has to offer in allowing readers to engage with both writers and their work.

"We look forward to announcing an exciting range of further digital initiatives from across our rich and varied publishing throughout the rest of 2010."
Sales of typo cookbook jump four-fold

30.04.10 | Philip Stone in The Bookseller

Sales of Pasta Bible, the book that erroneously instructed readers cooking tagliatelle to add "salt and freshly ground black people", have jumped almost four-fold in Australia following the mis-print revelations.

According to Nielsen BookScan data, sales over the two weeks to 24th April were up 275% on the previous fortnight, from just 48 copies sold to 180. The book has been reprinted at a cost of A$20,000 (£12,000) to the publisher, according to reports.

Although Pasta Bible (Penguin Group Australia) is admittedly still some way off the Australian bestseller lists, it is nonetheless further proof that many books can benefit from bad news.

On UK shores, for example, sales of James Frey's Million Little Pieces (John Murray) jumped from an average weekly sale of just 489 copies in 2005 to 1,494 in February and March 2006 following his admission in January that year that large parts of his "memoir" were, in fact, fictional.

Just a few months later, revelations that Kaaya Viswanathan's début novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life (Time Warner), contained "unintentional and unconscious" plagiarism from works by other authors gave sales a 22.9% week-on-week boost from 974 to 1,197 copies sold, despite the fact that all copies were supposed to have been withdrawn from sale by retailers.

And in January 2007, following the Celebrity Big Brother racism row, sales of the late Jade Goody's memoir, My Autobiography (HarperCollins), jumped 71% week-on-week from 246 copies sold to 421.

However, bad news isn't always good for sales. Sales of Jonathan Ross' aptly-titled memoir, Why Do I Say These Things? (Bantam Press), fell 45% week-on-week (from 10,535 copies sold to 5,791) following the infamous "Sachsgate" scandal. It was initially tipped to be one of the Christmas bestsellers in 2008 but ended the year with disappointing sales of just 81,600 copies.

But "Sachsgate" had less of an effect on sales of Ross' prank telephone call cohort Russell Brand's new book at the time, Articles of Faith (HarperColiins), which suffered a far shallower 9% week-on-week fall.

Graig Sisterson reports:

So he won both the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger and the Edgar for Best Novel for THE LAST CHILD. Sheesh, that's rare. Both the big ones.

Three novels into his second career, it seems he made a good decision to leave the law.
Saturday Morning with Kim Hill: 1 May 2010
Radio NZ National

8:15 Antony Loewenstein: Israel and blogging
9:05 Charlotte Madison: flying Apaches
9:45 Wil Anderson: dissecting ads
10:05 Playing Favourites with Helen Medlyn
11:05 Robert Oliver: Pacific cooking
11:45 Jeffrey Mogil: men, women and pain

Saturday Morning guest information and links:

  8:15 Antony Loewenstein
Journalist and author Antony Loewenstein is the co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices and has written for many Australian and international publications. His book, The Blogging Revolution (Melbourne University Press, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-522-85490-9), examined the work of bloggers working under repressive regimes around the globe, and his 2006 bestseller, My Israel Question (Melbourne University Press, ISBN: 978-0-522-85706-1) was republished last year in an updated and expanded new edition. Antony is a guest at the 2010 Auckland Writers and Readers Festival (12-16 May).

9:05 Charlotte Madison
Charlotte Madison, Britain's first female Apache helicopter gunship pilot, served three tours in Afghanistan. She tells her story in Dressed to Kill (Headline, ISBN:  978-0-7553-1961-9).

9:45 Wil Anderson

Comedian, author and columnist Wil Anderson hosts the ABC TV series about advertising, The Gruen Transfer, which screens in New Zealand on Comedy Central from 4 May. He has been appearing at the NZ International Comedy Festival with his new show, Wilful Misconduct (to 1 May).

10:05 Playing Favourites with Helen Medlyn 
After a career in advertising, Helen Medlyn became a full-time professional performer in 1989, working as a jazz chanteuse, dancer, actress, musical theatre performer, cabaret entertainer and more. Her latest role is Marcellina in the NZ Opera production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, playing in Wellington (15-22 May), and Auckland (3-13 June).

11:05 Robert Oliver
Chef Robert Oliver was born in New Zealand, grew up in Fiji, and for more than 25 years, has run restaurants in Miami, New York, Las Vegas and the Caribbean. Two years ago he returned to Fiji, and traveled to Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa, Vanuatau and the Cook Islands to rediscover the art of Pacific cooking. He tells that story, with Dr Tracy Berno and Shiri Ram, in Me'a Kai: the Food and Flavours of the South Pacific, (Godwit, ISBN: 978-1-86962-175-9). 

11:40 Jeffrey Mogil
Jeffrey S. Mogil is the E.P. Taylor Professor of Pain Studies at McGill University, Canada and Canada Research Chair in the Genetics of Pain. He is a keynote speaker at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and its Faculty of Pain Medicine in Christchurch (1-5 May).
NZ writer Bernard Beckett wins international prize:
The Young Adult division of the 2010 Prix Sorcières in France,prix-sorcieres-romans-adolescents.html

The Prix Sorcières is an annual literary prize awarded in France since 1986 to works of children's literature in a number of categories.

The prizewinners are decided jointly by the ALSJ (Association des Librairies Spécialisées Jeunesse) and the ABF (Association des Bibliothécaires de France).

Qualifying works must be written in French or translated into French from the original language. Authors from outside France who have won the prize include Anthony Browne, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo and J. K. Rowling and now Bernard Beckett.
Congratulations Bernard, you are in illustrious company.
The NZSA/Pindar Publishing Prize Shortlist Announced – online voting to start 1 May

The judges have read their way through the staggering 508 applications received for the inaugural NZSA/Pindar Publishing Prize and have completed what has been an extremely difficult task.  They have come up with a short list of five manuscripts.

Judges Graeme Lay and Mia Yardley found the quality of much of the writing to be remarkably high. Many of the manuscripts were potentially publishable, judging from the writing samples provided - heartening evidence that standards of literacy are being maintained.
The applications were all anonymous and the judges will not know the identity of any of the authors until the winner is announced on 15 June.

The five manuscripts are (in alphabetical order): Chasing the Moon, Even the Trees are Bent, Surrender, Tomorrow's Rain and What You Wish For.  All are adult novel manuscripts.

Now it's your turn to have a say.  Online voting for the NZSA/Pindar Publishing Prize will be available from this Saturday, 1 May.  Go to and click on the advertising banner to take you through to the online poll.
One vote per email address is allowed - all duplicates will be deleted.  Voting will continue until 30 May.
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani

In Scott Turow’s new novel, a sequel to “Presumed Innocent,” Rusty Sabich finds himself again at the center of a complex trial.
Right - Scott Turow - Jeremy Lawson Photography.jpg

Review at NYT.
Finalists for the 2010 Sir Julius Vogel Awards Announced
Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Authors Nominated

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Association of New Zealand is please to announce this year's finalists for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards.

Please go here to view the Sir Julius Vogel award ballot for 2010.

In the Best New Talent category, author David Hair's nomination is based on his first published Young Adult novel "The Bone Tiki".  Published by HarperCollins, it successfully combines NZ fantasy and history themes with modern life adventure.

The voting will occur at Au Contraire, - the national science fiction convention being held in Wellington, New Zealand over the weekend of the 27 - 29 August 2010. All Au Contraire attendees and SFFANZ members are entitled to vote. For more information about Au Contraire — including how to obtain tickets to attend — please visit their website.


Los Angeles, CA  April 30, 2010 – Summit Entertainment has confirmed that Academy Award® winner Bill Condon will direct THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN, based on the fourth novel in author Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.  THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN, is currently being written by Melissa Rosenberg, and will star Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.   Wyck Godfrey, Karen Rosenfelt, and Stephenie Meyer will produce the project.

"Bringing Stephenie Meyer's BREAKING DAWN to the screen requires a graceful and intelligent hand and we believe Bill Condon is exactly the right steward, having shown equal and abundant talents of immense creativity and subtle sensitivity,” said Erik Feig, President of Production and Acquisitions, for Summit Entertainment.

Added author Stephenie Meyer, "I'm so thrilled that Bill wants to work with us. I think he's going to be a great fit, and I'm excited to see what he does with the material."

“I'm very excited to get the chance to bring the climax of this saga to life on-screen. As fans of the series know, this is a one-of-a-kind book - and we're hoping to create an equally unique experience," said Bill Condon.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions.

The third film in the franchise, THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE is due in New Zealand theatres on July 1, 2010.

About the TWILIGHT film series
The TWILIGHT film series stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and tells the story of 17-year-old Bella Swan who moves to the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her father, and becomes drawn to Edward Cullen, a pale, mysterious classmate who seems determined to push her away. But neither can deny the attraction that pulls them together...even when Edward confides that he and his family are vampires.  The action-packed, modern day vampire love story TWILIGHT, the first film in the series, was released in theatres on November 21, 2008 to a blockbuster reception. The second installment of the film franchise, THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON was released November 20, 2009.  The franchise has grossed over $1.1 billion in worldwide box office ticket sales to date.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Miéville wins third Arthur C Clarke Award

29.04.10 |   The Bookseller

Self-proclaimed writer of "weird fiction" China Miéville has won the Arthur C Clarke Award for an unprecented third time.

The City & the City (Macmillan) won the British Science Fiction Association prize for best novel earlier this month.

"It was particularly difficult for judges to pick a winner this year," said chair of judges Paul Billinger, according to the Guardian. "China eventually won because of the intricacy of the book and the way the whole of the concept expands from the initial premise into the different types of city. The way that was done was so clearly and cleverly written."

Miéville previously won the prize for his novels Perdido Street Station and Iron Council. The City and the City triumphed over titles from previous winner Gwyneth Jones and Marcel Theroux, with Miéville picking up an engraved bookend and a cheque for £2,010 last night (28th April).

The shortlist in full comprised:

Spirit by Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz)
The City & The City by China Miéville (Macmillan)
Yellow Blue Tibia Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
Galileo's Dream Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperCollins)
Far North Marcel Theroux (Faber)
Retribution Falls Chris Wooding (Gollancz)

I came across Monument Books first in Vientiane and then again in Luang Prabang. The Vientiane branch is about the size of Unity Books in Auckland and the branch here in Luang Prabang about half that size.
The stock in both was about 99% non-fiction with books in English, French & Lao. There was a small handful of fiction titles including books by Dan Brown and Robert Ludlum.
Both stores were air-conditioned and all books were wrapped in plastic "for protection" but notices around the store invited you to take them out of the plastic is you wished to look at them. The book shelving and furnishings in the stores were modern and attractive.

I bought some maps and postcards and noticed later on the bag that Monument Books also have branches at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap-Angkor International Airports in Cambodia.
They state they take Visa and Mastercard but on closer enquiry they said they would charge me an extra 20% to use Mastercard !!

Their byline is Monument Books - Best in Books in Cambodia & Laos.
That may be a fair claim, their two branches in Laos are the only bookstores I have come across so far.

Fortunately I bought several novels with me but I'm in danger of running out. I really need a Sony Book Reader or I-Pad when travelling!
So far I have read Charlotte Grimshaw's The Night Book, Stella Rimington's,,,,,,,,, and I have almsot finished Ian Rankin's first novel, The Flood. I have already written about The Night Book and comments on the latter two titles mentioned will be posted shortly.
An Interview With Vana Manasiadis

Vana Manasiadis was born in Wellington in 1973. She studied English and Classics at Victoria University, and later completed an MA in Creative Writing there. For the last few years she has been living in Crete, and travelling whenever possible, but she plans to be back on Wellington’s South Coast at the end of the year. Her poems have been published in a variety of journals, and her first collection of poetry, Ithaca Island Bay Leaves, was recently published by Seraph Press.

Read the interview on Tim Jones' blog, Books in the Trees.


Last night was the Auckland launch for the 42 Below book, organised by 42 Below and was in the old 42 style and in the 42 Below bar.

The music was lively, the cocktails powerful and the room crowded. Greg Johnson and his band played, along with a couple of songs from Taye Williams.
Jacob Briars, the vodka professor was the MC. The book was officially launched by Karen Walker and of course our Nicola did a wonderful tribute speech to Justine, Geoff and those involved in the book.

And Justine's speech was just fantastic, I knew Justine could write but what a delight to hear her speak. She was most definitely in her element!  Very entertaining, of course it was her presentation of the speech that was great, very theatrical.
It was so lovely to be involved and meet some of the people who appear frequently in the book.

Justine's speech follows:

Yesterday at 2pm there was an intervention. It happened on the 19th floor of a building not far from here. I was the subject of that intervention. Three women I’ve known for over eighteen years suddenly wanted a piece of me. They called me to their boardroom.

I thought they were just spectacularly good drinking buddies and beloved confidantes. Who knew they were so smart and powerful. Turns out I’ve strayed onto their patch – -  they slammed the national newspapers down on their boardroom table and point accusingly at Geoff – WHY is HE so big in this shot – they demanded. We’ve been scanning the on line reviews they crooned –  Are you speaking on Wednesday – why didn’t you speak on Friday ? They showed me book publicity releases one page about the book, the second about the author and they wondered why the second page was about Geoff. They had done their homework.

As they spoke …I have to admit to drifting off for a moment – I adore satire and I began thinking that this very scene would make excellent book fodder. Nancy Mitford observed her friends and family with wit, mockery, insight and fearlessness – now there is someone I can respect. All my literary heros – seem to get away with abandoning conventional writing techniques and they certainly abandon Political Correctness … Oh how I aspire to that – THE HUMAN CONDITION … Intelligent Social commentary (and business people … its all SOCIAL) fascinates me but as you’ll see in Every Bastard Says No – I don’t limit my first wobbly literary lashings to friends and family I go all the way and finger Geoffs’ colleagues, his associates and even our country. Fortunately for quite a number of folk, Nicola Legat was there to issue some restraint.

It’s true that this is my first book, but the beloved intervention team have seen me leave a flash job in Advertising to be a lowly student in Journalism , they’ve seen me work as a receptionist in a film company (If you knew me you’d understand how very much I must have wanted to write) I waiting by the phone and sometimes at the airport, drycleaner, sandwich bar  where ever I was needed for my chance to write and research, this very same team laughed along at my column in Capital Times usually because I was taking a dim view of one of our friends. The intervention team delighted as I drafted up book ideas documenting the Saatchi and Saatchi Days –- when I began interviewing they gathered intelligence on who was nervous about the proposed book. They told me people were hiring lawyers least I spill the beans and we chortled and knew we were onto something. Then they waited and waited while I did ‘vodka wife’.

So, although they love Geoff and he deserves (well… a book written about him) they’ve been standing very by for quite sometime for a book written by me. I have something in the order of 6 known groupies here tonight, Kim has ordered 10 copies from Dymocks at three lamps Dad had Northlan, mum the CBD, Donna has the Eastern Suburbs– Rae is in a holding pattern above Sylvia Park ready to swoop.

That is loyalty and love and faith at its best – in many ways that is what every bastard says No is about. Matt Cooney Editor of Idealogue said Despite the title it’s a generous book … it needed to be – there were a heap of thankyous. To the 42 Below old boys and girls here tonight a thousand thanks – my advise after listening to all your stories is go out there and use what you learnt well but hurry the secrets are about to go on sale. Some people court controversy – you could safely say I fall into that category. That my beloved Geoff together with Grant ,Donna, Steve, Jackie, Justin, Mark, Jacob, Darryl and Ange  allowed me to muse freely about them in the book is a sign of their own beautiful self confidence. To them and to Simon, Dion and Ross Brown- my thanks.

There is a man among you called Dave Dewar – tonight he represents the YES people in New Zealand. He trusted his gut, ignored the scared mongers and backed 42 Below with his hard earnt cash in 2003 because he rated Geoff and he thought the idea might fly – he attended the AGMs and quietly cheered us on. These are the people acknowleged with love and gratitude in EVERY BASTARD SAYS NO.
The book needed an insert, an expander, a gusset to make room for the stories of support but no story is more compelling than that of Dave and Rae who mortgaged their home to invest in the IPO then did it again when the share price hit the 30s halting and consequently reversing the heart stopping drop. For 5 years they wore our t shirts and kept the faith - they were the largest private investors – not ‘rich friends’ just believers.

I tend to start out with a few hard serves and then give my best self – the love, to the folk still standing. There is love a plenty in the book but there are hopefully some well researched messages too. I’m a natural optimist but my research into why Every Bastard Actually said No – honestly left me disappointed and concerned about our countries psychological DNA no less. Those cherry thoughts are addressed in the book.
The message that isn’t in there however is the one for people considering writing a book. … The process immobilised me … I suppressed emotions, avoided human contact, developed acute intoleritus, and neglected (at times) personal grooming  (where was the intervention then girls?)

I’m now 17 hours Post the intervention and I’m staying largely on message … tonight its  all about the book … you’ll have to see Geoff for the business story.
Finally - I’m going to tell you about the third or was she the fourth fact checker. She rang me daily over the Christmas break and bless her she could barely keep the incredulous tone from her trembling lips … NOW Justine … page 242 line four… you say you made what. For cutting what  …. Page 309 Who … who was in rehab …  page 34 … line 30 … can’t sell, gutless, arrogant, are we being a little unkind to brokers? 178 line 45 is this statement about Muslims correct? Page 393 line 12 – what do you think Darryl means when he mentions the growth quite high up on his leg? And so it went on. . . Random House let us get away with a lot. Like growing a business in our country writing a book is actually hard, it’s also an intrinsically hopeful endeavour.

Nancy Mitford of course caused rift after rift with her astute and cutting observations. I’ve a long road to hoe before I can claim to be a Nancy Mitford but this book… MY BOOK  is about holding fast to dreams and believing so one day (she says with a confident flick of platinum hair) when I am a Nancy Mitford– I can promise you something – there is no way I’m writing anything that will in any way piss of the girls on my intervention team.
Nancy Drew Celebrates Her 80th Anniversary
By Jason Boog on Apr 28, 2010 , Galley Cat

Ever since this GalleyCat editor cracked a classic Nancy Drew book's yellow spine in the 1980s, we've been hooked on detective stories--from the Hardy Boys to Paul Auster.

Today's guest on the Morning Media Menu was Nancy Drew expert Jennifer Fisher--celebrating the 80th anniversary of the world's most famous girl detective (pictured in a fancy new edition). In 2000, Fisher founded Nancy Drew Sleuths, an organization of "American and international fans and scholars" dedicated to the 80-year-old detective. Fisher talked about the life of ghostwriters in the 1930s, fan conventions, and how authors can build community online and in the real world.
More at Galley Cat.
Laura Bush
From PublishersLunch

Once again, the NYT has "obtained" (which doesn't sound like "purchased") a pre-embargo copy of Laura Bush's memoir SPOKEN FROM THE HEART, in advance of the book's May 4 publication. (Too bad it's not an iPhone protoype, or Scribner would have a shot at getting it back.)

While the paper's story is attracting reasonable interest, we got a lot more Twitter-play yesterday by focusing on the question raised at Amazon's Omnivoracious. They noted that their "fascination with the cover for Laura Bush's upcoming memoir...touched a nerve with a few readers and emailers." The big question: "I can't decide if it's gorgeous or horrible, but I lean toward gorgeous, in a weirdly inhuman way."

As for the pre-publication revelations, Bush "describes in vivid detail the circumstances" of a car crash she had at age 17 when a vehicle she was driving struck another car and killed a high-school friends of hers. That incident is the focus of the Times' report, though she calls certain remarks by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid "uncalled for and graceless" and objects to his George Bush's opponents "calling him names."

Dress designers, key media, green protagonists and some of the top brands and people in the eco industry were all on hand at the Parlour Gallery above Ecostore in Freeman's Bay, Auckland, last night for the launch of environmental journalist Francesca Price's new book 'The Good Life', published by New Holland.

In keeping with the evening's green theme, drinks were provided by carbon zero certified winery Yealands, Phoenix and The Good Water Company and food by Kokako Organic, IE Produce, Naked Organics, Ceres, Retro Organics, Aroha Organic Goat Cheese, Green & Blacks and Cakes with a Conscience. Every guest also went home with an eco 'goodie' bag brimming with organic products.

After arriving back in New Zealand from the UK, Francesca Price went in search of a greener and more sustainable existence back home and has written a practical but inspirational guide to help the everyday New Zealander access information that will show them how they too can live a more eco-friendly and fulfilling life.

'The Good Life' is available in all good book stores now, RRP $39.99.'

Photo above - Belinda Cooke of New Holland Publishers, author Francesca Price and Malcolm Rands of Ecostore celebrate the launch of Francesca's new book, 'The Good Life'.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Speaks Volumes

High Street’s Unity Books just celebrated its 21st birthday. Sally Conor reports on a niche retailer still thriving despite big changes in the book world.

Metro, April 2010 issue.

A customer walks into Unity Books. He browses in a swift, pointless way for a minute before turning to the counter where Jo McColl waits patiently for him to ask for help.
“I’m looking for an uplifting book for a friend who’s had a difficult time lately.”
“Is she a big reader?” McColl asks.
“Oh, yes,” he says.
“Umm, okay, so not an Oprah’s book club sort of thing then? Do you know what she’s read lately?”
McColl starts to walk around the shop, handing him books. A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby.
Another staff member tries Invisible Cities by Italian writer Italo Calvino.
He politely looks at all of these but says no, no, no. He’s a tricky customer. McColl tries something closer to home — poet Glenn Colquhoun’s Playing God — but the customer keeps going back to Yeats. He’s clutching the Collected Poems in his large hands but dithers — he knows he doesn’t yet have the right book.

The right book is a powerful thing. It can hold just the right bit of information, it can convey the perfect message, it can heal and comfort, enrage and inspire.
McColl understands the power of the right book. After more than 30 years of selling books, this tiny 52-year-old mother-of-two, with a bright halo of blonde hair and one of the best collections of belt buckles and cowboy boots in the country, holds a world of words inside her head. Along with her late mentor Alan Preston and also departed friend, the novelist Nigel Cox, McColl founded Unity Books Auckland at 19 High St in 1989, with the simple aim of bringing the right books to the Big Smoke.
“We’d talked about having an Auckland shop for ages,” she says. “Nigel and I had been running Unity Wellington for years, but suddenly it seemed like the time was now. The fact that the stockmarket crash had just happened didn’t seem to deter Alan.”
Sportsman and philosopher Preston started the original Unity Books in
Wellington in 1967. Over the next 20 years, it grew into a hub for readers, writers, beatniks and people who just fancied a good yarn.
“The book trade was seriously British back then,” McColl remembers. “There were very few American books in the stores and New Zealanders didn’t read any modern American fiction like Richard Ford, Alice Munro or Jayne Ann Phillips. So we shipped them in. We lived in fear of being sued. But then the open market really freed things up.”

In Auckland, the new Unity won the support of local artists and intellectuals, as well as lawyers and media personalities. It soon became a distinct entity from its Wellington parent and began to reflect the tastes and curiosities of both its managers and its customers.

Part of that identity came down to how the space inside the store was and continues to be organised. Custom-built tables float like islands on the shop floor and display thousands of books arranged in a spectrum of ideas rather than by rigid categories. Science blends into contemporary philosophy. Law books give way to journalism, which becomes American politics and history. Gay literature nestles snugly alongside business and economics.
The only real rules on these tables are those that govern McColl’s mind. She uses a combination of intuition and experience to arrange books in ways that appeal to people’s senses and most inquisitive child-selves. Customers in Unity pick up, and often buy, books by authors they’ve never heard of on subjects they never knew existed.

Around the front counter dwell small, funny and wilfully snobbish books that appeal to a shopper’s whimsy. “Ooh! What’s this?” the unsuspecting customer will say, as the eftpos machine waits for their pin number, idles, then quietly cancels itself. “Oh, go on then!” they cry, throwing it onto the pile along with the new hardback Paul Auster (lukewarm reviews but who cares?), Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, Born to Kvetch by Michael Wex (the customer isn’t Jewish but he really likes the cover) and Corvus by Esther Woolfson (a memoir about the author’s life with her pet rook).
And then there’s the window. From its opening, the Unity Books front window has been an eye-level cabinet of
curiosities with the power to lure un­suspecting shoppers inside and make even the most thrifty bookman happily pay $180 for that gorgeous volume of Blake. The window is like a siren, calling pedestrians to a doom of eternal diversion.
Unity isn’t loved by everyone. Some deride it as elitist and technophobic. Its policy of stocking all of the essential backlist (such as the complete works of Philip Roth), at the expense of anything popular and pulpy like the new Dan Brown, baffles and annoys many; the occasional casual rudeness of the staff gets up plenty of noses.
A certain smugness inevitably pervades a place where, contrary to a dominant retail culture that’s all about the bottom line, the customer is not always right. Unity by its very nature is prescriptive — it seeks to tell its customers what’s worth reading and what they ought to like.
The shop’s lack of a computer catalogue system is also a frequent point of contention, even derision, especially among other book retailers. Unity’s manager Carolyn Alexander uses the internet to do business but, otherwise, she and McColl between them hold the whole shop — all 16,000 books of it — inside their heads.
“Bookselling is a combination of art and science,” says Joan Mackenzie, friend of Unity, stalwart of the publishing and book retail industries and current book manager for Paper Plus New Zealand. “A computer system can have enormous benefits to businesses but, in a bookselling environment, I think they can also have drawbacks. At Unity, they’re so close to their customers and to their stock that they can get by without it.”
“We’re small enough to do without,” says McColl simply. But all too often customers ask for a book and, when told without a moment’s hesitation that it isn’t in stock, look offended and say, “Don’t you want to check your computer?”
A young mother walks into the shop and browses the New Zealand table. In a light German accent, she says, “Excuse me, I’m looking for a book I saw in, um, Kaikoura? It’s about a man who recognises his love for birds.” McColl doesn’t even bother replying; she hands the customer How to Watch a Bird by Steve Braunias.

McColl and her husband Lawrie bought Unity Books Auckland and half of Unity Wellington in 2002. Preston became ill with cancer and died in 2004 and Cox wrote some of New Zealand’s most bizarre and engaging fiction before succumbing to the disease in 2006. The benevolent ghosts of McColl’s partners seem to lurk in the rafters of 19 High St. She says, “Whenever I’m in Unity, I don’t feel like they’re really gone.”
To remember Preston and Cox and to mark the 21st anniversary of Unity’s Auckland opening, McColl throws a party for customers, friends, publishers and ghosts alike. Even the Wellingtonians are obliged to admit that Unity Auckland has done pretty well for itself.

Speakers include Fergus Barrowman, publisher of Victoria University Press, the architect Nigel Cook, who lived across the street when Unity opened — or as he describes it, “When Jo, Nigel and Alan reached out and grabbed civilisation and dumped it on our doorstep” — and University of Auckland fine arts lecturer Peter Shand, who muses eloquently on “the courtesies of small stores”.
“Shopping at Unity,” he says, “is a joy because they know stuff about us, who we are, our families, and what we like to read. Interactions, knowledge, emotions, connections — these things are what books are all about. But to feel welcome — that’s what Unity is all about.”
Susanna Andrew, Cox’s widow and a former Unity employee who met and fell in love with Nigel behind the shop’s wooden counter, introduces a new award in his name, which includes $1000 of Unity books to go to a local writer each year. “It’s a torment and a madness to believe in the afterlife,” she says, “and to believe you can talk to that person. I’ve been dreaming about Nigel vividly this week while I’ve been trying to decide who should win, but there were so many writers he loved.”
The announcement is made: the inaugural winner of the Nigel Cox Award is Wellington poet Geoff Cochrane.
The speeches are over and the drinking can begin in earnest. Unity’s current crop of young staff go overboard on the free bubbly and have to be driven home.

Independent booksellers face numerous challenges, with the continuing rise of giants like Amazon and the threat of an uncertain digital e-book future. Unity is in much better shape than many independents overseas. A recent survey by the British Booksellers Association found that because of increased competition from the internet and supermarkets, a declining high-street culture and the credit crunch, 102 independent British bookstores closed in 2009, leaving just 1289 in the UK — a decline of 27 per cent since 1999.
But Joan Mackenzie argues that the outlook in New Zealand is far from grim. “I think people are getting tired of the big corporates,” she says. “They’re starting to go back to niche retailers who respect their business and appreciate it.”

She believes retailers here have time to work out where they’ll fit in the new scheme of things. Amazon’s Kindle digital reader has been on sale in the US for more than two years and shows no sign of becoming available here, despite being on sale in more than 100 countries. But with Apple’s long-awaited iPad hitting the shops here later this year, the digital reading revolution is set to really take off — and take New Zealand with it.
Unity, however, has only just hit the internet in a meaningful way, launching a new website last year. McColl says she hopes it will “be a good way of taking books to people outside the city”.
While so many are looking to sell books globally and electronically, McColl wants simply to continue to provide the real thing to local people. The right book is still Unity’s primary concern.
And our tricky customer would be glad, surely. He decided the Steve Toltz was the right gift for his friend after all. 

This article was published in the April 2010 issue of Auckland's METRO magazine and is reproduced here with their kind permission.My thanks to editor Bevan Rapson and to Sally Connor for her tribute to a great independent bookstore.

Metro's  latest issue (May), out this week, is their Best Restaurants issue with a free guide book to Auckland’s Top 50 restaurants and the next, the July-August Winter Double Issue, will feature another “Metro Literary Review”, like the one they had in our Sumer Double issue at the beginning of the year. The Bookman is a longtime subscriber to Metro and especially appreciates their generous book review coverage in each issue. And the annual Best Restaurants guide book sits on my office desk for handy (frequent) reference.
Expanded role for Random House Australia's Margie Seale

28.04.10 | Benedicte Page In the Bookseller

Random House Australia m.d. Margie Seale is to take on new responsibilities for exploring and evaluating potential business opportunities in Southeast and Northern Asia on behalf of Random House worldwide.

Seale continues to report to Brian Davies, head of operations, UK and overseas, at Random House Group UK for her m.d. role, but will report to both Davies and Random House Inc's chief financial officer Anne Davis for her new duties.

Random House Inc's chairman and c.e.o. Markus Dohle said Seale had "an open-ended mandate" and will take "a step-by-step approach in recommending corporate investment opportunities, print and digital publishing and licensing agreements, brand extensions, and more."

He added: "Margie's expanded responsibilities are a great example of how we can use local talent
for the potential greater benefit of our entire worldwide company."

Davies said: “This is a terrific new expanded role for Margie which will see her exploring new business opportunities on behalf of Random House worldwide—it is a fantastic opportunity and one that is richly deserved."

Apologies for lack of pictures on recent blog posts. I'm currently on holiday in Laos and cannot upload pics from my files at present.
Normal transmission will resume as soon as possible.
Gillian Newman reports:

UBS Canterbury was thrilled to launch two important New Zealand books recently at its Ilam shop -
Sleepwalking in Antarctica and Other Poems by Owen Marshall, published by Canterbury University Press and No Fretful Sleeper A Life of Bill Pearson by Paul Millar published by Auckland University Press.
Pic left shows Owen Marshall, right, with UBS supremo Philip King.

Both were launched by Patrick Evans in his inimitable manner, tricking the audience at the Owen Marshall evening by reading what we all assumed was an earlier poem by Owen. It was in fact part of a short story, thus demonstrating the lyricism of the writing whether it be prose or poetry.

Pic right, Patrick Evans.

At Paul’s launch he told how pleasing it is to have Paul and his young family as part of Canterbury University life, and the dedication he shows to his research and writing, and its relevance to the New Zealand canon.

Each event was attended by large and appreciative gatherings of colleagues, friends and family and the warmth and regard for each of the writers was evident
Peter Carey: At Home in Australia, New York and Writing
By Charles McGrath
Published: April 26, 2010, New York Times

The novelist Peter Carey, whose new book, “Parrot and Olivier in America,” came out last week, likes to call himself a Marshian, which is another way of saying he’s from Australia.

Mr. Carey, one of only two writers to win the Booker Prize twice (the other is J. M. Coetzee, a South African), grew up about 30 miles from Melbourne in the improbably named town of Bacchus Marsh, where his parents owned a car dealership.

First working in an ad agency and then writing full time, Mr. Carey, now 66, lived down under until 1990, when he moved to New York.

He still speaks in a broad Australian accent and is not shy about mentioning that his homeland recently issued a 55-cent postage stamp in his honor, or two postage stamps, really. One shows Mr. Carey as he is today, ready to erupt into a smile, which is practically his default expression. The other shows a photograph, selected by Mr. Carey himself, from 30 years ago, when he looked a bit — well, Marshian, with thick, nerdy glasses and features that seem a little mismatched.

“I have pictures that are much worse,” he said recently, laughing, in the SoHo apartment where he lives with the book editor Frances Coady.

Until now, all of Mr. Carey’s novels have in one way or another been about Australia. Probably the most famous are “Jack Maggs” (1998), which reimagines Dickens’s “Great Expectations” from the point of view of Magwitch, Pip’s benefactor, newly returned from the penal colony down under; and “True History of the Kelly Gang” (2001), which recounts the story of Ned Kelly, the Australian outlaw and folk hero, in Kelly’s own words, vivid, expansive and unpunctuated.
Full story at NYT.
Scholastic New Zealand delighted with Wonky Donkey

The Wonky Donkey has been a runaway success for us. We are currently reprinting it for the ninth time, and this time it has Booksellers NZ Gold accreditation for over 30,000 copies sold in New Zealand. It has also sold over 20,000 copies in Australia and will be released to the trade in North America in May.
We see the secret of its success as the combination of a funny, catchy song with the age-old cumulative text structure, all brought together by some very cheeky illustrations.
PANZ AFTER 5 EVENT with Faber & Faber's Will Atkinson

PANZ is delighted to launch our 2010 After 5 programme with a special international guest. Will Atkinson, Sales and Marketing Director from Faber and Faber, is visiting Auckland and will be our speaker.
Always at the forefront of new developments, Will's discussion will include some of the outstanding initiatives which retain Faber's position at the forefront of the industry: the newly formed Faber Finds imprint; digitisation; The Faber Academy; the Independent Alliance and more.

Date: Tuesday 11 May
Time: 5.30pm
Venue: The Booklover, Hurstmere House, Cnr Hurstmere Road and Anzac Street, Takapuna, Auckland
Admission: $10 (includes a glass of wine)
A  message  from Dr. Donald Kerr, F.L.S.
Special Collections Librarian
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

In late 2007 and early 2008, Special Collections had an exhibition called “Retrospective: A Look Back at the Last 21 Exhibitions”, which was that - a glance back at all the exhibitions (four per year) mounted in the de Beer Gallery since the completion of the new Central University Library in early 2002.

Events and other happenings meant we did not get around to making this exhibition live until today. Through the efforts of Merrin Brewster, our Web Developer, you can now revisit on-line all those exhibitions up to early 2008. A link is provided to each. And haven’t we done well? From Grand Tour travel, architectural ruins, and garden history through to the marvellous Monro medical books, poet laureates and Linnaeus.

Please enjoy it:
EVENT CHANGES: Auckland Writers & Readers Festival


We are sad to announce that due to a family emergency, Elizabeth Gilbert has had to cancel her tour of New Zealand for the 2010 Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.  The Festival sincerely apologises to those who have already purchased tickets for “An Evening with Elizabeth Gilbert” on Saturday 15 May, and advises them to call THE EDGE Ticketing Service on (09) 357 3355 for a full refund of the ticket price or transfer to another event. The “New Zealand Listener Opening Night” on 13 May will go ahead as planned with advertised guests Colm Tóibín, William Dalrymple, Thomas Keneally and Emily Perkins.

One of the the things I have noticed here in Laos is the absence of foreign newspapers, apart from The Bankkok Post. No English, Australian or American newspapers. It may be that it is just not economic to import and distribute them or it may be a censorship issue. The Bookman always enjoys the International Herald Tribune while in Asia but sadly it is not available here.

During our three days in Vietiane the hotel has supplied a copy each morning of the Vientiane Times but this looks like a newspaper you might expect in a country where freedom of speech is not practised. It is laregly filled with what read very much like Government press releases. For example in today's issue these are some of the headlines:
Govt approves five year socio-economic development plan
Govt urges greater commercial crop production
School hygeine programme to combat bird flu, tooth decay

Makes you wonder. Mind you one can watch CNN and BBC World News on TV so........
Kahurangi Calling:
Stories from the backcountry of Northwest Nelson

by Gerard Hindmarsh

Rich stories from the backcountry of northwest Nelson are the subject of a new book being published by Craig Potton Publishing this month.

From archaeological digs uncovering evidence of settlement from the 1300s, to the characters who founded the Golden Bay Alpine and Tramping Club in the 1960s, and those who continue to enjoy the area today. Kahurangi Calling: Stories from the backcountry of Northwest Nelson by Gerard Hindmarsh is a masterful blend of natural and social history describing the ecological treasures of the area alongside the stories of the characters who explored and lived there.

‘The type of person who’s drawn to life in the backblocks does tend to be a
bit more colourful than most,’ says the Golden Bay author who’s spent more than twenty years researching the book.

After Fiordland, Kahurangi National Park is the second biggest stretch of unadulterated wilderness left in New Zealand. It is a sanctuary whose attraction lies in its wondrous geology and its unique plethora of flora and
fauna. And the tales of asbestos extraction, life-endangering expeditions, hunter gatherers living off the land, and the effects of the Murchison earthquake where whole mountain tops crashed make fascinating reading.

Kahurangi Calling: Stories from the backcountry of Northwest Nelson is an engaging read about a remarkable corner of New Zealand. It is packed with tales from historical and living memory of prospectors, farmers, trampers, hunters, hermits and many others. Anyone with a love of our backcountry will treasure this book.

About the author

Born in Wellington in 1957, Gerard Hindmarsh trained first as a cartographer before shifting to Golden Bay in 1976. Long-haul truck driving, fertiliser spreading, forestry, building a house and setting up a cinema all preceded his move into journalism in 1991. His award-winning feature writing has appeared in a variety of publications both here and overseas, and he also served for many years as National Radio’s Asian Correspondent on Kim Hill’s Nine to Noon show. He has five children and still lives on his land at Tukurua, near Colllingwood in Golden Bay, on the edge of Kahurangi National Park. His previous books include Angelina: From Stromboli to D’Urville Island, a fictionalised account of his grandparents’ lives, and Swamp Fever, a memoir of his time as an alternative lifestyler in Golden Bay.

Kahurangi Calling: Stories from the backcountry of
Northwest Nelson
by Gerard Hindmarsh is published by
Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson, RRP $39.99

Author event:
Monday 3rd May 6:30pm
Gerard Hindmarsh will be talking about his new book  Kahurangi Calling
Trinity Hall, 64 Nile Street, Nelson
Tickets $5 (includes wine & fingerfood) available from Page & Blackmore Booksellers
For further details: ph: 03 5489992, e.:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feeding the African Imagination: Visiting Nigeria's Cassava Republic

By Belinda Otas, with additional reporting by Tolu Ogunlesi

Abuja, Nigeria might not be where you would expect to find cutting edge publishing. Yet, Cassava Republic, a four-year old company started by a husband-and-wife team, is part of a renaissance of publishing on the African continent. And they're doing it by publishing fiction aimed at Africans, importing authors from abroad and trolling the Internet and blogs for the best new talent.
Read the article ...
When Will E-books the Answer for Africa's Readers?

Today's story about Nigeria's Cassava Republic suggests that e-books may be the perfect means of overcoming African publishing's printing and distribution problems. Of course, as the publisher in the story notes, there still isn't that much Internet penetration, but it is improving. At what point do you foresee e-books being a viable distribution channel for Africa?
Let us know what you think!
Ian McEwan and David Nicholls go head-to-head in UK’s only prize for comic fiction

Ian McEwan and David Nicholls are amongst the five authors who have today, Tuesday 27 April 2010, been announced as contenders for this year’s Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. The 2010 shortlist also includes Paul Murray, Tiffany Murray and Malcolm Pryce. The prize, now in its 11th year, celebrates the novel of the last twelve months that has best captured the comic spirit of P.G. Wodehouse.

This is the first time Ian McEwan has been shortlisted for the prize, whose previous winners include Will Self, Paul Torday, Marina Lewycka, Michael Frayn, Howard Jacobson and Man Booker Prize winner DBC Pierre. This is the second time Tiffany Murray and Malcolm Pryce have been nominated, having both been shortlisted for the prize in 2005.

The five shortlisted novels are:

·    Solar by Ian McEwan (Random House, Jonathan Cape)
“A comedy every bit as brilliant as its title might suggest” (The Times), Solar is a novel take on climate change. The book focuses on the ambitions and self-deceptions of Nobel prize-winning physicist Michael Beard, whose best days are long behind him
·    Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (Penguin, Hamish Hamilton)
A dark comedy about a maths-loving, competitive-eating, E.T.-searching genius called Ruprecht Van Doren and his roommate Daniel ‘Skippy’ Juster, set in a boys’ school in Dublin
·    Diamond Star Halo by Tiffany Murray (Portobello Books)
“Cider with Rosie with an impeccable soundtrack” (Mark Radcliffe), this witty story of fate, magic, and rock ‘n’ roll shows what happens when a family and a farm become the breeding ground for fame
·    One Day by David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
One Day chronicles the unlikely friendship between Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew over two decades. “'A totally brilliant book about the heartbreaking gap between the way we were and the way we are.... the best weird love story since The Time Traveler's Wife.” (Tony Parsons)
·    From Aberystwyth with Love by Malcolm Pryce (Bloomsbury)
The latest instalment in the Aberystwyth series sees Louie Knight, Aberystwyth’s only private detective, trying to unravel a murder mystery that is bizarre, even by his own exceptional standards…

The judges of the prize are: James Naughtie, broadcaster and author, David Campbell, Everyman publisher and Peter Florence, Director of the Guardian Hay Festival. David Campbell comments on the shortlist: “Perhaps not enough books can make us laugh aloud as Wodehouse does. This shortlist will.”

This year’s winner will be announced at the beginning of the Guardian Hay festival in late May. The winner will receive a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and a set of the Everyman Wodehouse collection which now totals 70 books. As is tradition, an unsuspecting locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig will also be named after the novel in question.

Ahead of the winner announcement, shortlisted authors will take part in a special event at The Groucho Club, London, on Monday 24 May and visitors to will have the chance to win a set of the shortlisted books and a jeroboam of champagne.
Jason Pinter - Bestselling Thriller Writer
Posted: Huffinton Post,  April 23, 2010

Why Men Don't Read: How Publishing is Alienating Half the Population

Back in 2005, while I was still working as an editor, I had an opportunity to acquire a book that I was confident would be a bestseller. The author had a huge media platform, was one of the stars on a show watched by millions of people each week, hosted his own radio show, headlined his own band, he had a fascinating life story, thousands (if not millions) of fans worldwide, and even had a degree in journalisn. Unlike many celebrity memoirs, I knew this author was passionate about his story and had the writing chops to make it a great read. The author's agent wanted, in my opinion, a reasonable advance. I had confidence that this book was low risk, very high reward. However...

Read the rest of Jason Pinter's piece at Huffington Post.
Visitor numbers on the rise at Bologna

26.04.10 |  The Bookseller

Visitor numbers at this year's Bologna Book Fair increased by 3%, despite disruption caused to UK travellers by the British Airways strike.

The fair, which ran from 23rd to 26th March, attracted more than 4,760 foreign professionals. There were more than 1,200 exhibitors, of whom more than 1,100 were from 66 foreign countries.

In total, 91 nations were represented by exhibitors, professionals and journalists.

The organisers said: "These very positive results are even more important because they forecast a significant upturn of the market." The Bookseller
The Kids Are Alright! Why Digitization and E-books are Good for Literacy
By Kristen McLean, executive director of the Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC)
Publishing Perpectives

"Will the next generation still be interested in books? Will they have the attention span? Will they care about ideas?," asks Kristen McLean of the Association of Booksellers for Children.

Read the article ...
Has Your Child Gone Digital?

Some parents are reticent to introduce their children to electronic media, be it a television or a computer. Tell us: do you use an e-reader to read to your children? Do they use one on their own, and, if so, is it something you encouraged or did they come to it by themselves?

Let us know!

American writer Sima Rabinowitz has just reviewed the 10th issue of White Fungus on US literary site New Pages. She had some nice things to say about New Zealand. Here's the link:

27 April 2010
Pat White is writer in residence at Randell Cottage

New Zealand writer Pat White started a six month term as writer in residence at Wellington's Randell Cottage last week.
Pat White says he is delighted to be living in Thorndon, so close to the natural walking areas of both the Botanic Gardens and Town Belt.
'The cottage is very close quality libraries, including the Turnbull Library,' he says,' which will be useful for my research on Peter Hooper.'
White is using his term as the Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage writer to work on a biography of Peter Hooper (1919 – 1991).  A West Coast writer, teacher and fellow environmentalist, Hooper wrote award-winning fiction, as well as poetry and non-fiction.

White himself is also an accomplished poet and will give two poetry readings during May:
·     Palmerston North - 7.00pm on 5 May at the City Library
·    Wellington -  7.30pm on 17 May as guest poet of the New Zealand Poetry Society at The Thistle Inn. 
White's published collections of poetry include Signposts (1977); Bushfall (1978); Cut Across the Grain (1980); Acts of Resistance (1985); Dark Backward (1994); Drought and Other Intimacies (1999); and Planting the Olives (2004). 

 White has also produced the paintings and sculpture for an exhibition and catalogue Gallipoli: In search of a family story, which has already been shown five times in the North Island and may appear again at the Waiouru Army Museum this August.  White was recently writer in residence at the Robert Lord Cottage in Dunedin, and he completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters last year.
Randell Cottage hosts a French writer for six months of the year and a New Zealand writer for six months. White follows writer Fariba Hachtroudi, who has recently returned to France.
George W Bush memoir Decision Points: new details released
The publisher of former President George W Bush's book "Decision Points" on Sunday has set a November release date and unveiled its cover design.

Published: The Telegraph .  25 Apr 2010

George W. Bush's book 'Decision Points' Photo: AP

Mr Bush has said he is not writing a traditional memoir but an account of key decisions in his life. The cover features a photo of then-President Bush alone with his thoughts, standing in the Rose Garden Colonnade, wearing a dark suit and holding a briefing book, his head turned slightly from the camera.

According to Crown Publishers, "Decision Points" will offer "gripping, never-before-heard detail" on such historic events as the September 11, attacks and the 2000 presidential election along with Bush's decision to quit drinking, his relationship with his family and other personal details.

"Since leaving the Oval Office, President Bush has given virtually no interviews or public speeches about his presidency," Crown said in a statement. "Instead, he has spent almost every day writing 'Decision Points,' a strikingly personal and candid account revealing how and why he made the defining decisions in his consequential presidency and personal life."

A publishing industry source familiar with the book said that Mr Bush had completed a first draft and was editing the manuscript on a computer at his office in Dallas. A former White House speech writer, Chris Michel, is helping with research. The source was unsure whether Mr Bush had compared notes with his wife, Laura Bush, whose memoir comes out May 4.
Full story at The Telegraph.
Beatrice and Virgil
By Yann Martel
Text, $39

Reviewed by Nicky Pellegrino

Books about authors who are struggling to write can be overly indulgent and introspective. Yann Martel’s convoluted allegory is neither of those things. What it is instead is rather weird.
The story begins with thinly disguised autobiography. Henry is a writer who’s had one hugely successful novel and is struggling to follow it up. He spends years trying to write something fresh and meaningful about the Holocaust, wrestling with the limitations and possibilities of fiction and non-fiction and coming up with the idea of combining both in a “flip book” – one-part essay, one-part novel. When his publishers nix the idea he is pitched into misery and decides to abandon writing.
There is no hiding the real-life parallels here and Martel, the Booker prize-winning author of Life of Pi doesn’t even try. This first part of Beatrice and Virgil feels more like an essay, justifying why it has taken him so long to write another novel and exploring why he feels compelled to write in the first place.
But then the character of Henry moves to a new city. There he takes music lessons, works in a chocolateria, walks his dog and becomes a father. One day amongst his fan mail there is a curious letter. Part of it is a photocopy of a short story by Gustave Flaubert about a man who hunts and massacres vast numbers of animals and part of it is the fragment of a Waiting for Godot style play in which two characters, Virgil and Beatrice stand beneath a tree and talk about a pear.
Henry seeks out the sender of this material who turns out to be a mysterious old man, a taxidermist who works in a store filled with stuffed animals, among them Virgil, a howler monkey, and Beatrice, a donkey. The taxidermist needs help with a play he is writing about these two animal characters and the scenes from this play, that are scattered throughout Henry’s story, turn out to be about the horrors of the Holocaust.
The further into this book you get the more dark and disturbing it becomes. It’s as though Martel is beguiling the reader with a fable and then suddenly surprises them with brutality and reality.
If it was a masterpiece he was trying to write then Martel hasn’t managed it. This is more of an oddity, touched with gothic, embedded with literary references and with a nod to Orwell’s Animal Farm. But if what Martel wanted was to trick his readers into taking a fresh look at the Holocaust, to remind them of its horror and how close it remains to us then he has succeeded I think. Beatrice and Virgil may not win him another Man Booker Prize – at least it shouldn’t – but it is a startlingly original work and fans of Life of Pi are certain to devour it.
Nicky Pellegrino, in addition to being a succcesful author of popular fiction, (her former title The Italian Wedding was published in May 2009 while her latest, Recipe for Life was published by Orion this month), is also the Books Editor of the Herald on Sunday where the above piece was first published on 25 April.
Stephenie Meyer - $26.99, HB, Atom

The first new title from Stephenie Meyer in nearly two years will be published on
Saturday 5 June 2010 at 4.05pm.

Fans of ‘The Twilight Saga’ will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner,
a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire
world she inhabits. In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and
romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army
as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter
to its unforgettable conclusion.
The character Bree not only features in the book Eclipse, but in the upcoming movie
from Summit Entertainment. ‘Stephenie was gracious enough to let me read a draft
of the novella while we were prepping the movie “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,”’ said
Director David Slade. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the story and it gave us great insight and
inspired location choices and the tailoring of scenes. I think fans are going to love the
fascinating details involved in the loves, fears and actions of an emerging vampire.’
In less than five years, Stephenie Meyer has become a worldwide publishing
phenomenon. In New Zealand alone sales have surpassed 400,000 copies. ‘The
Twilight Saga’s ‘ translation rights have been sold in nearly50 countries and 100
million copies have been sold worldwide.
(Note that information about The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide, including
publication date, will be released by the end of the year.)

A Message from Stephenie Meyer

Surprise! I have a new book coming out. It’s called The
Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
. Well, it’s more of a novella
than an actual book—my version of a short story.
Actually, this has been a surprise to me, too. The reason
why it’s a surprise was that I never intended to publish
this story as a stand-alone book. I began this story a
long time ago—before Twilight was even released. Back
then I was just editing Eclipse, and in the thick of my
vampire world. I was thinking a lot about the newborns,
imagining their side of the story, and one thing led to
another. I started writing from Bree’s perspective about
those final days, and what it was like to be a newborn.