Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Night Vision

by Martin Edmond
(Auckland University Press 2011)

Another marvellous book from the amazingly prolific Martin Edmond, who seems to have been "in the zone" for years on end, producing book after book after excellent book.

And here's the latest title, which garnered a rave review in The NZ Listener from Justin Paton, who as art curator and critic knows what he is talking about. Says Paton, "it's always a relief to encounter a new book by Martin Edmond." I know exactly how he feels, and I share the difficulty in not knowing how to shelve Edmond's books. They are a mix of non-fictional, poetic and fictional treatments of biography, art criticism, history, autobiography, fantasy and travelogue.

The current one - on the great NZ painter Colin McCahon's fugue in the Sydney Botanical Gardens -  is gentle, full of quiet moments and contemplation, easy walks, clear signposts, and when the dark falls and things are decidedly hairy, we are led on a careful walk through the darkness. It's as if we have night goggles on. Edmond makes a genial self-effacing guide through impossible lost territory. He shows us things that never happened - but he doesn't play tricks on us, or tell barefaced lies - and it's his honesty and his own imaginative wanderings and wonderings that make us feel we understand a little more as we make the Way of the Cross through seedy Sydney.

Rugby vs Rugby

New Tabby stalks the All Black teddy

You could be excused at the moment, and frankly, much of the rest of the time, for thinking that there is nothing in New Zealand as important as Rugby Union.

But that's not true. There's Rugby League too.


Friday, September 23, 2011

A hot time in the old town tonight

Hello there! What I'm reading is an incredibly fascinating and well-designed new book about one of my favourite subjects:

VOLCANOES OF AUCKLAND: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE by Bruce W Hayward, Graeme Murdoch and Gordon Maitland (Auckland University Press 2011).

I grew up in Auckland on a ridge near the Onepoto crater and skinned my knees on scoria many a time. But there's so much new to learn and this book is just a delightful combination of education and enjoyment. There are maps, lists, artists' impressions, historical and scientific facts and conjectures with useful illustrations and all organized in pleasantly logical ways. "The essential guide" is not a misleading subtitle at all. There are some reassuring facts about the scope of future eruptions and the amount of likely warning time, but plenty of room for a touch of frisson also...

The book won't die while there are books like these around that feel good to hold and look at and read through.