Monday, November 14, 2011

The Groove Book Report: What to buy for Xmas: Three Books for the Ladies in your life.

3. The Trouble with Fire - Fiona Kidman, Random House (Vintage) $36.99

Over 20 books Kidman is still the considerate writer. Like a well made quilt and a cup of Earl Grey from a bone china cup, she treats every word as a treasure, to cherished and admired.

This, her latest work contains eleven long taled vignettes, vaguely connected by a theme of 'fire'. The book itself is divided into three parts, the spark, the flame and the extinguishment, I favour to guess. Although it really isn't that clear.

Our favorite Wellingtonian, Kidman is now 71 and many of the stories in the first section seem as if they are autobiographicial, or at least anecdotes from her friends and relations. They seem worn in and famiilar, to a degree. A woman looking back over life. Like any of that theme and genre they cover the power of the past, how it plays on the present, and how we allhave different perspectives on it. We write our own plays and then perform them to a criticalaudience, hoping to sell the scenes to our own end.

Opener, 'The Italian Boy' is about a writer who receives a visit from an old friend, promping her to remeber the events of her school days which are both threatening and romantic. It takes in the extremes of the day, like (in the 1970s) New Zealand women had to fly to Sydney to have an abortion because it was illegal here. 'Heaven Freezes' sees a a man remembering his first wife as his second marriage crumbles, and dwelling on the past to forget the incoming future. 'Preservation' offers alittle twist, wth the most unlikely member of a group of girlhood friends ending up in prison.

They'r not nostalgic stories but there is a feeling of years passing as girls gofrom cheeky wee slips to greying matriarchs. you can sense that Kidman is accepting her own fate and toying with it almost as a distraction or a defiance to grow old with out the poise and grace of accomplishment.

The main story in the second section has three connected tales tracing the generations of a family with a grim, long-buried secret. The first, 'The Man From Tooley Street', uses the Morrison macabre to paint a goulish picture of a young Waikato farmer’s wife disappearance. It's not until no. 3 'Under Water' that he maternal grand daughter uncovers a credible solution to the mystery. What most likely happened to her? These are fractured relationships, always enveloping Kidman's favourite topic: the plight ofwomen through the ages, and a reflection on how their lives have changed.

Finally, secton 3 contains two historical stories, both based in fact it would seem. 'Fragrance Rising' is about Coalition Prime Minister of the 1930's Gordon Coates whlst 'The Trouble With Fire' is about Lady Barker, author of the book 'Station Life In New Zealand', which recorded her time living in the foothills of the Southern Alps in the late 1800s. Both are good historical fictions of individuals, metaphors that highlight themes like race relations, women's rights and women's work and the genuine hard yakka of the day.

Always, Kidman speaks with a gentle voice of confidence and authority, She's done her home work and her characters are so real you could pop next dor and borrw a cup of sugar. If you've never read Kidman, then here's a good entry level to one of our greatest writers of fiction and non fiction.

The Groove Book Report: What to buy for Xmas: Three Books for the Ladies in your life.

2. Hand Me Down - Michelle Holman Harper Collins, $24.95
All right I admit I'ma little out ofmy depth on this one. Romance noves are not really my thing. Though I have to say they are adictive! Not that I'm saying that I'd read this or anything. But if you were holed p in a chalet for a month with a lot of red wine and bear steaks, the I guess this wouldn't be too bad a read, I guess. Ok, Ok. Actually it was pretty good. Holman is a master at the compelling read, and yes, the characters are sufficiently engaging and realistic to hold your attention.

Ok, quick synopsis. Over 26 years ago , two little girls were born in the small town of Pisa, um, Otago. (Home of the best Cherries by the way!). One, a brunette, olive skinned girl and the other blonde and blue eyes. 'Hand Me Down' starts the day these two babies go home home with the wrong set of parents. Oh dear, you can see where this is heading. But wait! All her life, April Ritchie is a princess in her daddy's eyes, her family were wealthy and important (they own the biggest house in Pisa and the largest farm). Seventeen years later, though, this little girl's life was about comes crumbling down as rumours were spark that she's not the biological daughter of Heather and Grant Ritchie. April gets kicked out of home and leaves Pisa, vowing never return but before a quick detour into the hospital to steal the two medical records (her's and that of one Nola Gutsell. Fast forwad nine years later, April's flat-broke and making her living as a kissing telegram girl. When a job comes up, it takes April back to her home town of Pisa. A lot has changed in 9 years. Her family home has been sold to the one person whose reputation she ruined, to a whole town annoyed at April for the girl she used to be.

And there the story starts as our heroine (sic) must prove to the town that she has changed. What will happen when the truth of who April really is comes out, will her closest friend 'Latoya' Gutsell feel betrayed?

This is book five of Michelle Holman's cracking collection of slightly trashy romantic click lit. Like a good buttery chardonnay and a a Violet Crumble, it's a superb story that will will keep you in laughter in parts and tears in others (or if a guy like me train spotting the cliche's) as the cracks between April's tough exterior start showing and her true colours revealed. The best bit is the Kiwi twist on this slighly overcooked America saga, and that alone will make it the book to read with those left over turkey sammies and pink champers & lemmy-aide.

Indulge on the You tube clip:
Hand Me Down by Michelle Holman - YouTube

The Groove Book Report: What to buy for Xmas: Three Books for the Ladies in your life.

1. Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury, Harper Press, $28.99

Every wondered why the cocoa in your cupboard is call 'Bournville Cocoa'? Bournville was the location at the beginning of Richard Tapper Cadbury's Empire. With meticulous detail and a surprising mix of economics, anthropology and good old down to earth invesigative journalism, the great, great, great grand daughter of the original chocolate baron unveils the story of not only a chocolate empire but an industry and a commodity more precious than gold. This is a product consumed and known by virtally every kid able to read the posters at their local shop. What you might not know is that, unlike other chocolate barons, the Cadburys were Quakers. Honest hard working and frugal. An odd juxtaposition you might think, for a family that makes a luxury good. And there lies a tale. Cadbury covers the economic situations, the exploration and the eventual all-out fight for market share. And of course there are a few nogstalgic "Willy Wonka Factory" moments, too. After all, we are talking about the kid who grew up in the sweet shop! Interestingly absent from the narative is any real scorn on Kraft, the current owners of the Cadbury brand. The politics and historionics behind Cadbury's demise and sale, andevental recovery of sorts is all on the page, be itsome what clinical. Cadbury, herself seems content that it exists and is alive and well. That is enough. Also missing is any real analysis of Cadbury's contribution to modern day obesity and tooth decay or the commonisation of treats such as candy and chocolate from expesive luxuary tems to everyday items from the super market. Still, we are talking about one of the UK's most beloved and revered brands, with a real history and an accessibility like no ther. For that we should be thankful.

Monday, November 7, 2011

This week on the Adventures of the Coffee Bar Kid

This week we check out new music from LA Mitchell, Sharon Jones, Amira Grenell (feat. at WOMAD next year), and interview

Mike McRoberts (TV3's Foreign Correspondent) about his biography 'Beyond the Front Line' and Sports Writer Bob Howitt, who's just released 'Black where it belongs' a retrospective play-by-play celebration of the All Blacks most awesome World Cup Campaign.

Plus we GIVE AWAY two passes to Fly My Pretties IV - St.James Theatre 19 November.

All the goss on the Pretties:

Fly My Pretties will be touring the country from October through to November, with a re-imagined show, new cast and wealth of new songs. The fresh concept will see the 16-strong cast collaborate with celebrated contemporary visual artist, Hayley King (Flox). Audiences can expect a completely new production, from re-imagined costumes, to unique boundary-pushing visuals. In Act I, Flox will interpret each song from the new album into iconic images, which will be uniquely brought to life both during the performance and as an exhibition of original limited edition prints in the theatre foyers.
In Act II, Fly My Pretties will deliver a set filled with a range of their classics plus a few surprises from Live at Bats, The Return Of… and A Story.
Led by Barnaby Weir, the latest Fly My Pretties family will combine an exciting and diverse mix of established and up-and-coming New Zealand talent, with performances in Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland.

Wellington: Saturday 19 November – St James Theatre.

For more info see:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tonight on the Adventures of the CoffeeBar Kid

We take a sneak peak at what's on offer at next year's International Arts Festival. And Review and peruse Aligator Reocrds back catalogue (Now in it's 40th Year!) See you tonight from 7.30 only on Groove 107.7 FM and streaming right here!