29 November 2007
The party season is well and truly upon us and the weekends between now and New Year’s Eve will have many people hosting parties and soirees of many different kinds. Traditionally writers like Martha Stewart, Nigella Lawson, and locally, Jo Seagar have been the obvious choice for hosts looking for tips for entertaining. Our Southern hemisphere festive period also makes BBQ-ing a popular choice for an informal gathering.
Don’t be lead into believing that these mainstream takes on entertaining are your only options however. Check out these titles for a more quirky look at party-throwing – (more…)
28 November 2007
Farmers’ Markets seem to be popping up everywhere. Farmers’ Market New Zealand Inc defines a farmers’ market as one “where local growers, farmers and artisan food producers sell their wares directly to consumers. Vendors may only sell what they grow, farm, pickle, preserve, bake, smoke or catch themselves from within a defined local area”.
If you like the sound of that and want to find a market near you, take a look at Guide to farmers’ markets : Australia and New Zealand. Another new book on the topic is Market Day : a taste of life at New Zealand farmers’ market. This beautiful looking book has lots of recipes, a guide to regional specialties, and a directory of lodgings and restaurants committed to using and serving good regional produce. Sounds yummy.
28 November 2007
2008 is to be the International Year of the Potato, and in 2009 Christchurch will play host to the World Potato Congress.
The history of the potato dates back to about 8,000 years ago near Lake Titicaca. Research indicates that communities of hunters and gatherers who had first entered the South American continent at least 7,000 years before began domesticating wild potato plants that grew around the lake in abundance.
You can find out more about the history of the potato by reading books such as The potato : from the Andes in the sixteenth century to fish and chips, the story of how a vegetable changed history and The Potato Book.
The library also has a good lineup of spud related cookbooks. As potatoes are such a versatile food, it is a good idea to choose the appropriate potato variety for your needs – boiling, mashing, roasting etc. The Potato Group of Horticulture NZ has a guide to types available in New Zealand and there is a helpful guide to potatoes on vegetables.co.nz.
27 November 2007
Grant Smithies is a passionate music reviewer. I don’t always agree with his taste, but I do admire someone who can combine knowledge and emotion so fluidly. His new book Soundtrack : 118 Great New Zealand Albums doesn’t claim to be a definitive work on New Zealand music, it’s a writer sharing the stuff he loves. The result is an honest and enthusiastic survey of New Zealand music. Smithies’ writing sits very nicely alongside guest contributions from the likes of John Campbell, Karen Walker, Chris Knox and the late John Peel. Best of all is the Christchurch representation, including essays on Bachelorette, The Bats, The Gordons and Shocking Pinks.
27 November 2007
Posted by Donna under Art
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TradeMe now has for sale eight illustrated bears, which involved the talents of Pamela Allen, Robyn Belton, Gavin Bishop, Jenny Cooper (2), and Helen Taylor, plus an unusual one by Jacqueline Wilson.
It is a once in a lifetime chance to own an original and unique work of art by some of New Zealand’s leading children’s book illustrators. An ideal Christmas present for a librarian or booklover.
Each bear has been transformed into a unique collectable which will not only increase in value as time goes by, but will continue to delight the buyer.
They are signed and has a certificate of authenticity. For example, Robyn Belton’s bear is a character from ‘Greedy Cat and the Sneezes’ by Joy Cowley and Robin Belton and comes complete with a Doctor’s bag and a signed copy of the book.
Funds raised from the sale of the bears will go towards Te Tai Tamariki, a proposed National Centre of Children’s Literature which will be a treasure house celebrating the best of everything that goes into the writing and illustrating of children’s books.
The auction has been organised by the Friends of Te Tai Tamariki and the artists works have been given free of charge. These bears will be auctioned on TradeMe from Monday 26 November until Sunday 2 December, 2007.
Go to TradeMe (search “members” for “magnumgj”). They’re beary, beary nice!
23 November 2007
Posted by Lady Deco under Music
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Not book covers but musical covers. I am a big fan of genre-busting reworkings of famous songs, like Johnny Cash doing Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode on his American IV album. In recent years entire albums have been produced that pick up this gimmick and run with it, verily like the wind.
Guns ’n’ Roses have been given the bossa nova treatment (see this earlier post for more details) and Richard Cheese does superbly loungey things to Tool and Snoop Dogg on his albums. You can also catch classic tracks from the 80s and 90s redone in a jazz vibe. By far my favourite at the moment is the rockabye baby series of CDs which feature lullaby renditions of songs by such artists as The Ramones, The Cure, Björk, and The Smashing Pumpkins. So if you’re raising a future headbanger (or Icelandic pop princess?) you might like to check this series out.
What’s your favourite unlikely cover of a song? If you could have any artist cover any song what weird and wonderful combination would you dream up?
23 November 2007
Ian Rankin was a polished yet human performer at his Literary Liaison in Christchurch recently. He’d obviously talked about his books and how he came to write them a million times before but he did it with good grace, good jokes and a good accent.
Unfortunately no one asked him who he likes to read, but he did mention Robert Louis Stevenson and Muriel Spark – in fact he dropped his doctoral thesis on Spark to write his first novel. Rankin loves the dark side of Edinburgh; the body snatchers Burke and Hare (although they were imports from Ulster) and Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Other writers who cropped up in conversation were two who live in the same street, or ‘writers’ block’ as it is known – J.K. Rowling and Alexander McCall Smith. Kate Atkinson, who will be visiting Christchurch for the writers’ festival next year (“you’ll like her, she’s good but she’s much more posh than me” said Rankin) lives a stone’s throw away.
Rankin chose the name Rebus because Morse was a code and a rebus is a puzzle. A few years after the Rebus books were first published, he met the only Rebus in the Edinburgh phone book, a man who happened to live on a street called Rankin.
The old puzzle has proved difficult to bring to life on the small screen; New Zealand viewers have only seen one of the adaptations of the Rebus stories, the one starring John Hannah. Rankin prefers Ken Stott, who stars in another series yet to be seen here – Hannah is a nice guy but too young and too pretty to be Rebus.
22 November 2007
The Costa Book Awards shortlists have just been announced (they were formerly known as the Whitbreads). As part of the announcement, some new research was released to mark the launch of the Awards. Apparently 77% of UK readers have enjoyed a book so much the first time that they’ve re-read it. 29% of those surveyed admitted they have re-read a book at least twice, 27% three times and 12% four times – and 17% have re-read the same book a whopping five times.
The most revisited reads are:
- The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling
- Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
- The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
- Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
- To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
- Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews
- Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
- The Bible
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Douglas Adams, the Brontes and Jane Austen are definitely on my re-readable list. I’d throw in a return visit to the swashbuckling medieval romance of knights and ladies in Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe – and anything by Mary Webb. She was a writer of compellingly depressing Hardy-esque rural emo (cruelly mocked by Stella Gibbons in the book Cold Comfort Farm) …
What books do you revisit? and what is it that draws you back into its pages?
21 November 2007
Excellent Scottish writer Ian Rankin is due to visit Christchurch tomorrow. I’ve always been a fan – he is one of the few writers for whom I’ll happily yield up an outrageous amount of money for a large format paperback just to read his newest offering as soon as possible. Sadly Ian has retired his Inspector Rebus and the latest novel Exit Music will be the last in the series. I’m a fan of crime fiction as long it is not in the gruesome serial killer formula and anything with good characterisation, plotting and good writing will get my attention, so learning that one of the best will be no more is rather sad.
2007 has seen another favourite crime writer Michael Dibdin write his last Inspector Zen novel. In this case it was because Dibdin died. Read Michael Dibdin’s obituary in the Guardian. Both Rankin and Dibdin are fine writers by any standard and the word “formula” does not really apply.
A visit to Ian Rankin’s official website is an interesting one. There is lots of good fan stuff – lists of all his books, a map of Edinburgh, quizzes, video clips of interviews with the author and so on.
Some of my other favourite crime writers seem to still be going strong – Lawrence Block (Bernie Rhodenbarr), Tony Hillerman (Joe Leaphorn), Walter Mosley (Easy Rawlins), Donna Leon (Inspector Brunetti), Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch), Ruth Rendell (Inspector Wexford) and Peter Robinson (Inspector Banks) – but new suggestions are always welcome.
21 November 2007
News from Otago University for poetry lovers and bibliophiles alike:
A limited edition hand-set printing of Hone Tuwhare’s classic poem ‘Rain’ has just been completed as part of the 2007 Printing in Residence Programme at the University of Otago Library. Eleven other poems were re-printed from Tuwhare’s Come Rain Hail (1970) and produced in a large format portfolio production. It was printed by Dr John Holmes, under the University Library’s Otakou Press.
Tuwhare’s well-known ‘Rain’ was illustrated by Olav Nielsen, a Dunedin printmaker-artist. Six other Dunedin artists were involved: Inge Doesburg, Simon Kaan, Mary McFarlane, Kathryn Madill, Jenna Packer, and Marilyn Webb. Each selected a poem and created their own delightful image-masterpieces.
All the copies printed have been sold. Those interested in viewing the production can call into Special Collections at the Otago University Library (1st floor) and request to see it, or otherwise view online images. Next year’s project, which will feature master-printer Alan Loney.
For more information about Hone:
- Books by Hone Tuwhare at Christchurch City Libraries
- Information about Hone at Christchurch City Libraries
- The New Zealand Book Council entry on Hone
If you are looking for a different interpretation of Hone’s poetry, try the sound recording Tuwhare. This was a project commissioned by Toi Maori Aotearoa and directed by Charlotte Yates in which poems by Hone were set to music by recording artists from NZ/Aotearoa.
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