Category archive: Books and Reviews

Superstitions – Impotence

If they have faith in an old superstition, men who are concerned about their sexual vigour should eat a generous amount of rabbit kidneys. Rabbits are known to very procreative, by why their kidneys were regarded as the seat of their rampant passions has never been explained. (Nor is there any suggestion that another part of the male rabbit might provide a more logical encouragement.)

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Max’s Dogs – Kublai Khan’s dogs

In the 13th  century Marco Polo reported from China that Kublai Khan of Cathay had two kivichi  or Masters of the Chase, each commanding 10,000 men assisting the Khan to command a total of  5,000 dogs in tracking, hunting, and killing  wildlife. Marco Polo didn’t mention how big the kennels must have been.

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King Henry III of France (1575) was a devoted dog lover – perhaps a bit too devoted. He owned 2,000 dogs, so perhaps it is just as well that he had several palaces. He liked to have 100 dogs within patting distance, and he went walkabout with 20 at a time.

Green and gold vines amid gently tanned hills…

If I had my way on this autumn day, I’d be standing with my back to the sea, near Seddon in Marlborough, amidst grape vines with their lime green and gold lines. And I’d be looking out over gentle tanned hills, up to a great hunk of a mountain streaked with snow.

Instead, I’ve got to make do with the cover of a book.

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When Ajax visits town

The recent morning book launch of Ajax the Kea Dog was crowded out, so a second session followed for fans to meet this celebrity dog and his young Department of Conservation mate.

Sam Neill narrated the BBC documentary featuring Ajax and Corey Mosen in 2016.

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Shattered….

‘Christel is at shattering point’ the back-cover blurb says of Kirsten Warner’s The Sound of Breaking Glass. Shattering.

But I’m still feeling shattered.  And I’m already three days out from finishing the novel.

There’s a lot going on in this book.

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Not the Swinging Sixties

In the big picture New Zealand prospered in the 1960s. Materialism boomed, the economy flourished, brand-new houses dotted the suburbs and pop music and miniskirts and thumbing noses at conventions, gave spice to the day.

But on the edge of the lupins and the sand hills east of Christchurch, Cheryl Nicol’s childhood memory of 60s life, was one of make-do. In her memoir, A Parallel Universe, as the title suggests, a different world existed.  Life was hard. The picture, is grim.

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The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

When this wacky titled book, turned up – some new age novel I thought.

Not so. This is a true story about the jihadist takeover of the real Timbuktu and the remarkable story of one man’s finding, collecting and then saving hundreds of thousands of priceless manuscripts in Timbuktu.

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“I will do thy bidding gently…”

Richard Wagner was  devoted to his King Charles spaniel named Peps, who  actually participated  in his master’s composing.

Wagner’s biographer H.T. Finck records that Peps constantly sat near Wagner when the composer was at the piano. Sometimes Peps would leap on to the table and peer into Wagner’s face, howling piteously.

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One Hundred Small Chapters

One Hundred Ways to Read  A CityDid I want to read a book about Christchurch?

I’d seen the destruction of the earthquakes, later vast expanses of nothingness and recently, steps of reconstruction. I’d watched John Campbell cover stories on television about it and each Saturday for the last five years I’d read all about it in The Press.  (Maybe, thought I knew it.)

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