Take Five: Including Vinacular and From Pigskin to Paper

by Guy Somerset / 13 December, 2012
Vinacular; From Pigskin to Paper; and The Moderately Hungry Maggot.

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VinacularLooking for that special something to slip into a loved one’s Christmas stocking? What you need is a maggot. No, really. They’ll love it. THE MODERATELY HUNGRY MAGGOT (Wedge Press, $18) is Bill Manhire and illustrator Mark Harfield’s scabrous spoof of a certain hungry caterpillar but moreover a deliciously black-hearted inversion of Manhire’s poetic paean to his childhood, 1950s; here, instead of youthful pleasures, he reels off a litany of contemporary evils comparable to “really rotten flesh” and “a dog turd” when it comes to a maggoty appetite. You’ll have to buy the book to find out if you’d be tucker yourself – although I’ll save real-estate agents and jet-ski riders the bother. Not sure what ski instructors and pigeon trainers have ever done to Manhire, though. Available from bookshops or via marionxmcleod@gmail.com. A less fondly remembered aspect of the 1950s (and the decades either side of them) is transformed into rich comic pickings in historian Redmer Yska’s A WOMAN’S PLACE: GOOD WIVES, HAPPY HUSBANDS AND WHY A WOMAN’S WORK IS NEVER DONE (Penguin, $24.99). Through newspaper articles and advertisements of the time, Yska transports us back to when “A woman naturally resents being bullied, but on the other hand she likes to feel that the man who loves her also knows how to manage her”; “Husbands resent housework taking priority over their comfort and nothing sends a man scurrying to the club night after night more quickly than the washing, ironing and eternal cleaning”; and “The probability is that your husband is going to be landed with a wife ready to come apart at the seams, rather than the little career woman you visualise.” One, perhaps, for John Tamihere. John Saker’s droll entries for VINACULAR: A WINE LOVER’S A-Z (Awa Press, $25) should strike a chord with existing wine lovers, while enabling more occasional imbibers to bluff their way through dinner parties with something more to offer than “I’ll have white, please”. However, the real joy of the book is the wonderful illustrations by Scott Kennedy, whose work will be familiar from Awa’s Ginger series. A beautifully produced little hardback.

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I can’t help but think The Moderately Hungry Maggot would have raised a smile with Margaret Mahy. RUMBUSTIFICATIONS (TVNZ) is a DVD of Mahy in and around her Governors Bay home reading some of her best-loved stories to her grandchildren. It is – as you’d imagine – an absolute delight. Also available: that tremendous Elizabeth Knox-fronted Mahy documentary, A TALL LONG FACED TALE (TVNZ).

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Tall, but not particularly long-faced, STEPHEN MERCHANT is the welcome unsmug half of the comic partnership that brought us The Office, Extras, etc, and he’s in New Zealand with his live stand-up show Hello Ladies. Opera House, Wellington, December 17; Auckland Town Hall, December 19 and 20.

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WOW or Woollaston – you decide. Or you can do both. OFF THE WALL: WORLD OF WEARABLE ART UP CLOSE is an interactive exhibition put together with the help of Weta Workshop’s Sir Richard Taylor and featuring 30 creations from the WOW collections. Rotorua Museum, until February 10. Also at the museum is WOOLLASTON 101, which showcases the 101 works on paper Toss Woollaston gifted to Nelson’s Suter Art Gallery in 1971, alongside drawings, watercolours and oils held in Rotorua. Until February 24.

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Books – they aren’t held together by themselves, you know. In so far as they are held together at all as we head into the age of the e-book. Harking back to more glorious eras, FROM PIGSKIN TO PAPER: THE ART AND CRAFT OF BOOKBINDING is another great exhibition from the Special Collections of the University of Otago library in Dunedin. Until March 22. While you’re on campus, check out, too, ART IN THE SERVICE OF SCIENCE: DUNEDIN’S JOHN BUCHANAN, a Hocken exhibition highlighting the life and work of this renowned 19th-century botanist and draughtsman. Until February 9.
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