Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, $36.99 HarperCollins

King Henry VIII and his famous henchman Thomas Cromwell are both well known characters from British history. 

Hilary Mantel won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, in which she gives us a quite different perspective on this period in history.  Would you have wanted to get in the way of either King Henry or Thomas Cromwell?  If Wolf Hall’s characterisations are true, it might well have been a more pleasant experience than one could have anticipated.  Mantel achieves this new perspective by starting her novel a decade or more before Thomas becomes indispensable to the King, a period that most of us are less familiar with.  At this time Cromwell, a lawyer and merchant, is running his own business and also working for Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York and a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. 

Mantel’s style is very descriptive and she observes background events and conversations beautifully.  In this reviewer’s opinion, her style mostly works, although occasionally the pace does slow.  The King is busy denying Queen Katherine of Aragon in accordance with advice from his courtiers.  This advice contrasts with the stern response of the Pope and provides a sense of tension in the story.  Bringing his common sense and legally trained mind to bear on what’s going on, Cromwell gives the King strategic advice, rather than telling the King what he wants to hear.  Consequently the King appreciates that in Cromwell he has found an advisor who is not just out for himself. 

Whether the older Cromwell continues to be so selfless is not in this book’s ambit.  Wolf Hall, by the way, is the home of Jane Seymour’s family.  Her story comes after the specific timeframe of this novel.  However she is there almost from the beginning as lady-in-waiting to the new Queen, Anne Boleyn.  It’s altogether a clever new approach to some important British history.

As a reader one feels privileged to be a fly on the wall as Cromwell's life unfolds with its daily opportunities, tragedies and comic moments.  Warning: as it’s such a whopper, you may choose to skim read Wolf Hall, but the language of many passages is such that it’s well worth slowing down in order to savour it.

Wings by Raymond Huber

Wings by Raymond Huber Walker Books $19.99

We first met Ziggy the bee in Raymond Huber’s book Sting.  Young Ziggy is a bee who gets into lots of adventures, many of them quite risky.  This book was shortlisted for several awards including the NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Adults. 

Ziggy is back in a new adventure called Wings.  Huber has definitely got a thing about honey bees and the important part they play in our lives.  He takes these facts and has Ziggy and his fellow-bees illustrate them for us while they explore and get up to all sorts of hi-jinks.  Learning by stealth?  For sure!

In Wings Ziggy and his friends have been transported to Tokyo by scientist and friend to these bees, Sparkles to him, Sophie to us.  They meet some Japanese bees and their adventures begin with a big hornet as the nasty bad guy.  There is also a mystery danger to all the bees in the world that Sophie is hoping her Japanese friends will help her prevent.

This is a great adventure story that kids can read with wide open imaginations.  Great plots, clear action and strong relationships make for a great story. The main characters just happen to be bees!  Sell it to your young customers as a great adventure story for 8 to 11 year olds and you will be doing them a great favour.

Traitor by Stephen Daisley

Traitor by Stephen Daisley, Text Publishing $39 out now

Ex New Zealand infantryman, now Western Australian husband and father, Stephen Daisley takes us back to Gallipoli in 1915 in his novel Traitor.

 Mahmoud, a British trained Turkish doctor, is in the trenches with Kiwi soldier, David, when a shell bursts overhead injuring them both.  During their convalescence Mahmoud shares his Sufi beliefs and traditions with David, while David is allowed to guard his new close friend.  When it becomes clear that Mahmoud will be treated as an enemy rather than as an ally David engineers an escape attempt.  However in a Sufi-like way, this cataclysmic moment is a long time coming as we share the many private moments of these two men from opposite cultures. 

David’s choice to betray his country for his friend leads to the severest punishment, which is avoided in a very Anzac way.  He is allowed to serve the rest of the war as a stretcher bearer, where a new compassionate David is much valued by those he assists.  However when we meet David as old man sheep farming back in New Zealand, his world is still in tatters from his war experience. The man who returned to heartland New Zealand is not the one who left and his new compassion and quietly whispered about history separate him from the tough society of post war rural New Zealand.

This is definitely a story of mate-ship, but also one of humanity.  The relationships ring true and the story will delight.

Telling Tales, A Life in Writing by William Taylor

Telling Tales, A Life in Writing by William Taylor, $39.99 HarperCollins Published May 2010

William Taylor is well known to many New Zealanders through his more than 30 published novels, most for young people. Blue Lawn and Jerome both captured the angst of being young and gay in this country and, despite some controversy, both have sold well.

In Telling Tales Taylor, now in his early seventies and the recipient of many awards (Taylor was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004 for his services to children's literature), writes about his own life starting when he was about six or seven and living along with his siblings and mother in Levin – at that time his father was abroad fighting in WWII. A quirky and forthright individual who was also very stylish and hugely competent in matters usually handled by men, his mother was unlike most others to be found in provincial towns of the time. In due course Taylor senior returned from the war and the family moved from pillar to post over the next few years as various business ventures were started and, unfortunately, went on to fail. In this prologue Taylor details his family connections back to England, along with the actual migration of his grandparents and goes on to write about his family’s links to the Hutt Valley. In many ways his was the typical life of a young person of this era, i.e. a member of a family where the parents struggle to make ends meet as they get on with bringing up their children.

Taylor goes on to describe the many parts of New Zealand that he got to know as a child – and later as a schoolteacher and much-esteemed headmaster, and the books he wrote in each of these places.

Telling Tales is a story of a certain generation of New Zealander for whom private matters are kept private. We do learn that as a teenager he was very shy, while he describes his sister as being quite interested in the opposite sex. However, nothing is revealed of Taylor’s private life after his marriage to Delia ends, other than an admission that his ongoing sexual confusion led to his marriage break-up. On the pendulum of sexuality he puts himself somewhere in between heterosexual and homosexual.  And he reflects that his 10-year marriage is the longest intimate relationship he’s ever maintained. Is the reader entitled to know more intimate details than this?  Probably not, but more self-examination and sharing may have made for a more gripping and interesting life story, an actual autobiography. But at the end of the day this story of a writer producing the words that become books is in itself well told. 

Surfer Boys : Gay Erotic Stories edited by Neil Plakcy

Surfer Boys : Gay Erotic Stories edited by Neil Plakcy $33.99

A cover shot of a cute everyman clutching his surfboard attracted me to this book.  Plakcy has collected together an anthology of sexy stories from writers from many parts of the globe.  The common thread to Surfer Boys is the world of surf, wetsuits and board shorts.  The beaches aren’t all the Californian clich├ęs with Texas, Sydney and even Tunisia setting the sexy scenes.  One story questions if a gay guy can be hard enough to surf, another is the story of a man getting over a break up and finding new beginnings on a beach as he rescues a fallen surfer.

Plakcy’s own experience as a writer and as editor of a previous collection of erotica show in his selction of well crafted stories.  And yes you might need a tissue or two to clean up the aftermath, but these are also great stories that celebrate sex, a little romance and the pleasures and potential of guy-love.

There are 19 stories in all from many noted writers.  This is a diverse and yes sexy collection to tide you through until your life next includes your own Mr Sexy Boardshorts.

South of Broad, by Pat Conroy

South of Broad, by Pat Conroy $38.99 - March 2010 

A friend described Pat Conroy’s writing style as one that uses a hundred words where one would normally suffice.  But while this extravagant use of words may slow your entrance into South of Broad, do not let it deter you.  Through the voice of young Leo King, Conroy introduces the reader to Charleston, South Carolina in 1960 - a city with a long history of segregation, by both class and colour.

As a boy Leo discovers the body of his brother in the bathtub and subsequently spends some time in a mental institution. He also gets in trouble with the law, but despite these setbacks Leo seems to be a happy self-contained young man with a caring father and a formidable but fair mother who happens to be the principal at Leo’s high school, where his father also works.  In the early part of the novel Leo shares fascinating details of his city with the reader as he cycles the streets hurling newspapers onto his customers’ front porches. 

There is so much detail in this novel. To just quickly sketch the basics, the novel starts at the beginning of a high school summer when some new arrivals at Leo’s school and neighbourhood form the nucleus of a group of friends that transcends and challenges Charleston’s traditions.  A year of transformation follows; but happenstance has brought them together and will take them forward to when the reader meets them again in 1989. At this time the group undertakes a challenging expedition to San Francisco to track down one of their cohorts, a journey that thrusts them into the midst of the reality of the AIDS epidemic and also the truth of their own pasts.

Beautifully written, South of Broad has humour, lightness and depth.  The extravagant language takes you on a journey that cycles through these people’s lives and loves and will have you laughing and also shedding a quiet tear. Conroy is well known for previous novels, The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides - both some years ago. It has been a bit of a wait for this novel, but well worth it.    

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood, Random House $29.99

Christopher Isherwood was a true twentieth century man.  Born in England in 1904, living in Berlin, China and finally Los Angeles where he died in 1986.  His life reflects the enlarging of the world that had come with the colonization of America.

In his novel A Single Man he chronicles one day in the life of George, a middle aged gay English Professor teaching at a Los Angeles University.  George’s lover has been killed in a car accident some months earlier and George is getting on with his daily life, as illustrated by the first scene of waking and struggling out of bed.  He lives in a high state of self awareness, which redefines his everyday experiences  for you. Take his thoughts during his drive into Los Angeles : As he drives, it is as if some kind of autohypnosis exerts itself.”  And in this state George shares with you his fantasies and thoughts of new realities for his world, with himself in a centre of power.

Isherwood is at his best however when describing George’s awareness and interaction with his neighbours and especially his students.  He nervously balances teaching the meaning of literature with avoiding causing offence to any of the many minority groups in his 1960s Californian classroom.  This anxiety is beautifully contrasted with the comfort he later experiences during his gym workout with people he can be comfortable with. 

This is a very personal novel.  George is exposed to us in all his better and worse qualities.  The language of this intimacy satisfies while leaving a taste for even more.

Shift by Rhian Gallagher

Shift, poetry by Rhian Gallagher Auckland University Press $24.99 In store 1 September 2011

Rhian Gallagher was born in 1960’s Timaru.  She has studied with Bill Manhire and at London University.  Many of her poems have been published.  This is the second collection of her own work.   She fits in writing around her day job at the Otago University Bookshop.

As you begin reading this collection, Gallagher’s verse transports you with familiar sentiments, perplexing journeys, a sentiment of missing pieces,  and a desire to live up to the image of a twin sister who disappeared before you became fully acquainted.  This is a very personal collection of poetry. 

The journey takes you on to Europe where the world is described as truly foreign to what was home and then love arrives in a section named “Butterfly”.

After the initial passion of the new romance, the visit home to the new lover’s parents produces many images.  A delightful memory I savoured and indicative of the fresh engaging poetry of this book is:

Excerpted from Under Cover page 36

Lapping the Freezer...

Your gentle step

Breaks between single beds

And we’re almost invisible,

With our hush of unison,

Making love like the drowned.

Eventually the love story surrenders to the incredible tension this great planet exercises upon people and connectivity.  Our poet has come full circle and is home again reconciling the feeling of belonging and still remembering the missing piece from her childhood and family.

I often engage only tentatively with poetry.  This is poetry that doesn’t demand to be read out loud.  It invites you in and slowly builds to an idea of a true story, hinted at, rather than factually retold.  A delight.  Well done Rhian.

Sharp Shooter by Melanie Delacourt

Sharp Shooter by Melanie Delacourt, published September, $35

While this book’s heroine Tara Sharp appears to be paying homage to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, the action and setting soon engage and make for a great read in its own right.

Tara, an intelligent young woman who wishes to get a ‘proper’ job, but needs to find a way of dealing with her ability to see an aura in everyone she meets, lives in her parents’ converted garage. Although she has established this semi-independence, she still regularly raids their fridge when groceries and cash run low, which happens often.  Meanwhile her psychiatrist puts her in touch with a Mr Hara who begins to teach her how to control and best use her special talent. Soon after she lands a casual contract as a private investigator, and this leads to being asked to check a woman out with regards to her true feelings towards her boyfriend.  A simple job  that inevitably becomes more complicated as Tara finds herself getting close to the business of some dangerous people; big industry players who seem to have an axe to grind with the people she is working with. 

A light easy read, perfect to take on holiday.

Sanctus by Simon Toyne

Sanctus by Simon Toyne, HarperCollins

In the wake of The Da Vinci Code there has been an avalanche of at best average, over wrought thrillers with a theme drawn from ancient Christianity. 

Simon Toyne, with a background in television, delivers us Sanctus, a gripping thriller set in the Taurus Mountains.  An ancient rock citadel in the mountains is the site for a monastery belonging to a sect of monks guarding a secret that is only known to the inner circle.  The book opens with a monk, Samuel, climbing the sheer cliffs and then bracing himself on the edge held up by the wind for hours before finally flinging himself into a death flight. 

Why?  Who are these monks?  Why would one choose to exit the monastery via certain death?  .

Arcane rituals, conspiracy, secrets and the power of knowledge are all themes that course through this book.  It seems that no one has ever left the monastery once they know its secret.  Is Samuel’s death some kind of message to the world? 

Unlike the previous pretenders you may have read, Toyne is not an author to get sidetracked.  He delivers a well paced adventure full of intrigue.  There is a feeling of warmth in many of the character’s relationships.  His plot twist is well delivered and if you are anything like me; it will be an unexpected one.

This is well worth the read and I think is a better book than any of Dan Brown’s

Richard Till Makes It Easy

Richard Till Makes it Easy, by Richard Till, $34.99 Renaissance Publishers

Richard Till treated us to a highly entertaining instore evening a couple of weeks back. He’s always got plenty to say and this particular evening was no exception. In his laconic – in fact remarkably laid-back - style (quite different to the hyped-up frontperson for Progressive Enterprises that we see on our tv screens every night), he shared with us his love for traditional recipes and related food rituals. For the Till family, Christmas is all about the turkey and the pudding – with all the usual other stuff in between.

So what does his new book deliver? Well, the style is very chatty and the layout is interesting and reminded me more of an old scrapbook. There are plenty of great combinations such as Osso Bucco (Beef Shins Italian style) served with gremolata. Also included are some classics including the ‘world famous in the South Island’ Cheese Rolls and one of Richard’s particular favourites, Devils on Horseback. My friend Susan made me Mum’s Chocolate Square and it was indeed yummy, although thinner than the chocolate squares found at most modern cafes these days.

Richard Till Makes It Easy evoked memories of food I have enjoyed before and it’s inspired me to try again.  I suggest you give some of the recipes a go yourself.

Boy Crazy: Why Monogamy is So Hard for Gay Men and What You Can Do About it, by Michael Shelton

Boy Crazy: Why Monogamy is So Hard for Gay Men and What You Can Do About it, by Michael Shelton $36.99.

Michael Shelton is an American clinician focusing on behavioural and addictive sex and sexuality concerns.  I opened this book expecting to be sold monogamy as a nirvana or absolute goal.  My personal feelings were discomfited and challenged as I read a wide ranging survey of masculinity and maleness concluding with the author’s opinion that men don’t cope well with monogamy, thus their need for sexual variety.  

Can one relationship fulfil all our emotional and sexual needs?  A possible answer appears to be yes, but only if all parties have worked through their own issues and communicate and share ongoing intimacy and passions.  Genetics, upbringing and role modelling have made it difficult for gay men to show intimacy and emotions with their male mates. 

When faced with a partner’s infidelity many of us instinctively flee or avoid dealing with what is going on.  Shelton explores the options and motivations in Boy Crazy and impresses me with his practical approach.  We have options and if we communicate our feelings honestly, all parties to a relationship can make more appropriate and positive choices for either monogamy or non-monogamy. 

This little gem is a thorough examination of relationship, emotional and sexual issues for gay men and how to deal with our primary relationships as our desires ebb and flow.

Relax and Grow Rich By Mike Hutcheson and Claire Wadey

Relax and Grow Rich By Mike Hutcheson and Claire Wadey, HarperCollins $34.99

Yes,  Relax and Grow Rich written by advertising guru Mike Hutcheson and creative counselor Claire Wadey, is yet another self-help book.  The subtitle tells it all: How to Live a Successful, Satisfying and Sustaining Life.

Basically this book helps you to get your head around how to take control of your life and live it in a way that rewards you best, with love, happiness and enough money. 

The key message is that good ideas do not thrive if you are stressed.  A sense of ‘slow’ is needed to allow the good stuff to surface. 

Flow is also important.  Think of it as like being an athlete who is in the zone, i.e. being engaged in activities requiring skill and commitment.  If you become adept at your flow, be it swinging a golf club or driving a race car, your brain will be free to be imaginative and intuitive, enabling good ideas to flow.

Wadey and Hutcheson tell you that ideas are a lot easier to have than they are to implement.  But ideas won’t keep; something must be done about them. Take the principles in this to heart: learn to embrace your slow, find your flow and you may well become rich and happy.

The Complaints by Ian Rankin

Why is it that we enjoy reading about grumpy policemen and their failed relationships and dysfunctional families? Is it because their circumstances are so similar to our own? Or maybe it’s because we can see they are as fallible as the rest of us …

In Ian Rankin’s newest book, The Complaints, we are introduced to Malcolm Fox, a detective in an Edinburgh Police Complaints office where not only does the general public disdain him, but his workmates do too. The story starts just as Fox and his team have completed an investigation of a colleague that results in a prosecution.

This story takes place within an 18-day period and twists and turns brilliantly. As a complaints officer Fox has always been able to trust his direct superiors, but as events unfurl he finds this is no longer possible. We share his worries about caring for his aging dad and the importance of being there for his sister. Coincidence then seems to push him personally closer to the subject of a new investigation. And as more things go wrong Fox and his new comrade get even more involved.

Rankin’s Rebus character has become much loved. Fox has the potential to become just as well regarded, warts and all. The Edinburgh setting seems to accurately reflect the city as it encountered the economic problems of 2008. And although the politics of policing the police are convincingly described, Rankin’s strength lies in his strong narrative and his descriptions of characters and events. Well done, Mr Rankin. This will make a great summer read.

Published October 2009. $37.99

Michael Kirby: A Private Life $39.99

Michael Kirby: A Private Life $39.99

Michael Kirby is a well known public figure in Australia.  He has served in the High Court and on many other public bodies.   Like me you may have heard his name when he publicly came out several years ago.

After a long and successful career on the bench this is Michael’s opportunity to share his private self.  It is a book that talks of the challenges growing up in overtly homophobic 1950s Australia.  This was a country with similar attitudes to New Zealand.  In New South Wales the prevailing attitude of the police and other authorities was that homosexuality was a perversion to be deplored and stopped.  Michael tells us of meeting his life partner of 30 plus years when they were both in their late 20s.  That was a long time to wait to be brave enough to actually seek out a partner for love and companionship.

The warmth in his stories and essays bring this little book alive.  The care he took to keep his private life from being public is something many of us can relate to.  Michael Kirby’s family and close friends knew Johan was his partner, but Johan was completely invisible in the public and work life of Michael for many years.  I was moved by the telling of their first public outing in the latter part of Michael’s career.

He also tells of visits to schools, Africa and many human rights conferences where he shared his personal tales and also the experiences of Australia as a nation finding ways to cope with AIDS in the 1980s.

Michael Kirby nicely captures the feelings of coming out in a repressive society.  He also sets an example of how to make a positive impact on the lives of others by getting involved and sharing his story.

Pierre et Gilles

Pierre et Gilles, Double Je 1976-2007 Taschen $135.

Taschen always produce gorgeous illustrated books with wonderful photography.  The series of books that have consistently delivered beauty are those from Pierre et Gilles. This edition is a celebratory biography of their life and work.  These two artists celebrate the beauty in all things using an interesting amalgam of photography and painting.  The major part of this book is devoted to beautiful reproductions from their portfolio.  This work overflows with superlatives of beauty. They celebrate excess and ambiguity.  The natural beauty of the subject be it Marc Almond , Nina Hagen, Jeff Stryker or even themselves is beautifully exaggerated with perfect make up and fabulous sets.  What a beautiful book!  But is it art or something more sexual?

Digital SLR Cameras and Photography for Dummies

Digital SLR Cameras and Photography for Dummies, John Wiley $44.99

For some people photography is practised without a thought.  Framing the subject, focusing, avoiding wobble, keeping an eye on the verticals in the image all come easily.  For others taking a great photograph is nigh on impossible.

If you are in the first group you won't really need this book, but you may want to buy a copy for friends who fall into the second group and therefore never manage to take a great picture of you. 

Actually this is more than a book for first time photographers.  The author simplifies everything from start to finish.  SLR, he tells us, stands for Single-Lens reflex meaning that you are seeing the same image the lens is focused on, so that you know exactly what you picture will look like. 

The advent of digital SLR cameras has taken away much of the hassle and costs that used to be associated with such good cameras.  This Dummies guide reveals all you need to know about how your camera works, how to select the best one for you, along with all the clever tricks that will make using the camera itself trouble free.  He also teaches you what you can do on your computer to add the best finish to your image.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage by Justin Cronin, Hachette $39.99 published July 2010

Publisher, Hachette, has for many years enjoyed huge sales from Stephanie Meyer's Twilight books.  These are slowing down, so they have been looking for their next biggie.  Justin Cronin's new book The Passage may be the one.  However a blockbuster cannot be created solely out of marketing hype.  The book has to be damned good and consumers need to choose to read it based on more than advertising.  A month or so since release it is starting to sell itself.

The Passage is the story of Amy.  Justin Cronin develops a back story of a scientist's quest for the truth behind the disappearance of a tour group who had ventured into the jungles of Colombia and then has this research hijacked by an American military offshoot, whose guinea pig recruitment policy leads us to 9 year old Amy, through whom we learn of the consequences of this military experiment gone awry.  The experiences of America's few survivors and of Amy make for a marvelous story.

In many ways this is an Armageddon story.  Think Cormac McCarthy's The Road mixed with a great thriller and perhaps a vampiric Jurassic Park.  Cronin has not written a book for a specific genre such as thriller or fantasy.  The Passage draws on many styles but it is truly a damned good yarn.  These people are confronted with a reality different to ours.  Their world may still consist of big malls and freeway flyovers.  However in this future, decades on in time, no one is shopping and no vehicles travel on the roads.  The most useful thing a freeway bridge does now is shelter a vampire-virus inflicted being from the deadly gaze of the sun.

This is a great story.  Step outside your comfort zone and enjoy this read.

Part 2 publishes later in 2012.

Outback: Currawong Creek by Paul Freeman

Outback: Currawong Creek by Paul Freeman $110.00

Paul Freeman first came to my attention when he wrote a biography of out rugby league player Ian Roberts in 1996, which at the time seemed quite daring. Since then Freeman has developed his photographic career with a number of exhibitions and some particularly daring photographs of Australian men in his four Bondi  books. Now there is Outback: Currawong Creek: his second Outback book.

This new one is a large format coffee table book featuring glorious duo toned and full colour images of hunky, mostly nude, men in outdoor farm settings. Although the men themselves are pretty good to look at, the context in which they’re seen is relaxed yet totally credible, whether they are alone or in scenes of playful camaraderie.

Freeman has captured a male spirit that while not specifically gay will still hold enormous appeal for many gay men. I think I have found my man’s Christmas present.

New Zealand Wine-Lovers Companion An A to Z Guide, by Karl du Fresne, Craig Potton Publishers $29.99.

New Zealand Wine-Lovers Companion An A to Z Guide, by Karl du Fresne, Craig Potton Publishers $29.99.


Wine columnist and freelance journalist, Karl du Fresne, has had a long interest in all things wine.  In this book’s introduction he laments the lack of a reference book to assist him when he first became interested in understanding wine, rather than simply drinking it. 

He tells us that this book is not for wine geeks or wine experts.  It is instead a readable A-Z of all things wine with a specific New Zealand focus.  For example grape or wine types from Bordeaux to Primotivo and on to Ximenez are all defined in the context of New Zealand wine. During our Mum’s sherry-drinking heydays of the 1960s, Ximenez was the seventh most planted grape in this country.

Wine growers and makers, industrial terms and much more are all explained.  This is a perfect book for double checking your wine facts and ensuring your expertise is based on more than the things you believe you remember from that wine tasting the other month.

No Fretful Sleeper, A Life of Bill Pearson, Auckland University Press $59.99

No Fretful Sleeper, A Life of Bill Pearson, Auckland University Press $59.99

In No Fretful Sleeper, Paul Millar explores the life of West Coast writer Bill Pearson. Born in 1922, Pearson embraced reading at an early age and grew up aware that while he enjoyed the company of girls he felt amorously towards boys.  For a Presbyterian West Coaster this created difficulties, thus he headed to London in his 20s, where he wrote prodigiously, mostly exploring his leftist principles and how New Zealand’s small society stifled and oppressed anyone who was different.  Prior to ths period in his life, he found a sense in belonging when he served in the New Zealand Army at the end of World War 2 and later as a member of the Maori Club at the University of Auckland.

He published one novel, Coal Flat, and a couple of non-fiction works on literature and wrote lots of reviews and critical surveys.  Publishers Blackwood and Janet Paul considered Pearson’s critique rare in the local scene.  “We have both been struck with your careful and judicious criticism”. However Pearson’s serious response to writing did not endear him to everyone he reviewed and he perceived that some reviews of his own work were in return vengeful.

Pearson’s upbringing and wariness had created the heart of this problem.  In being ever watchful of giving himself away Pearson was seen to be a very unemotional academic character.  Even his close colleagues such as CK Stead had no chance of knowing the real Bill.  Millar writes that Stead doubted the capacity of the Bill Pearson he knew to properly understand Sargeson. But the man Stead knew as a colleague was the closeted persona, not the warm caring man many such as the members of the University Maori club had come to know.

 No Fretful Sleeper is a well written study of a major figure from New Zealand’s literature and also an intriguing insight into growing up different in 20th century New Zealand.


Natural Pet Care by Pat Coleby

Natural Pet Care by Pat Coleby $28
Pat Coleby is a qualified vet with many years experience.  Our pet friends are more and more being afflicted with diseases and conditions similar to those suffered by their human owners.  Could this be caused by pampered lifestyles and artificially contrived tinned or packet foods with lots of apparently necessary additives?
This book gives you an overview of how to best treat your dog, cat or other small pet animal.  Colbey looks at how their relatives live in the wild and then reflects on ways to best replicate that domestically.  It seems that a natural kibble without added soy or canola oil are best at .  Prime cuts of meat are not recommended.  Some animals have almost died from protein overdoses.  Again looking at animals in the wild, initial feeding would include skin, fur and viscera, well before meaty muscle tissue was available.  Often the muscle or meat would be buried to decompose before being eaten.
There is a great section on natural remedies and information particularly on using natural methods where possible.  All this is finished off with sensible advice on acquiring a pet, making this a very useful book for anyone wanting to be the owner of a happy healthy pet.
Wadey and Hutcheson tell you that ideas are a lot easier to have than they are to implement.  But ideas won’t keep; something must be done about them.  Take this to heart, learn to embrace your slow, find your flow and you may well become rich and happy from applying the teachings in their book.