Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

30 October 2010

My Books: Political Animals

This description, from a bookseller's catalogue, sums up this collection published by New Holland:

'All humans,' claimed Aristotle, "are political animals." This fetching collection of animal portraits, ranging from crocs and hawks to koalas, buzzards, lions and more, combined with (mostly unintentionally) [NO - intentionally!] entertaining quotations from the world's politicians serves as an enjoyable reminder of the all-too-human qualities of the political animals who are, or have been, in charge. Each spread features an animal portrait juxtaposed with a quotation from the likes of Dan Quayle, Richard Nixon, Maggie Thatcher, Adlai Stevenson, John Howard, Idi Amin and many others.

While out of print, this book might still be available from your average bookshop or from ABE books, or even the odd copy left in my collection.


27 October 2010

My Books: The Farmyard Wisdom Collection

These books have sold like hot cakes all over the western world. They are collections of my photographs of the various animals - sheep, chickens, pigs and cattle - with appropriate quotations by famous and infamous people.

They were published by New Holland Limited in New Zealand as light-hearted gift books, Christmas stocking fillers of no great literary consequence!

 While I enjoyed photographing subjects for three of the books, 'Pig Tales' took me to some pretty awful places. Some of the pictures I took along the way were unpublishable as the conditions in which the animals were kept were disgraceful.

I travelled all over New Zealand taking the pictures and yet, ironically, the front cover of 'Woolly Wisdom' was taken no more than fifty metres from my house.

All these books are still on sale in bookshops, from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, 
Mighty Ape etc etc. 
Trade enquiries may be made to 
New Holland Publishers worldwide.


26 October 2010

My Books: The Good Old Kiwi Pub

I had a marvellous time writing and illustrating this book because it took me all over New Zealand and because most of the pubs were quite old and had great background histories. Almost without exception they are privately owned pubs and so have not been subject to the ruinous modernisations that corporate pubs endure.

'The Good Old Kiwi Pub' was published by Saint Publishing who also produced several  calendars that I illustrated. It has been out of print for a long time and is an extremely rare collectors' item; it turns up from time to time from ABE Books, Amazon.com, EBay and Trademe.


25 October 2010

My Books: One Man's Heart Attack

I had a heart attack in 1989 when I was 56. I didn't know how badly I was damaged, what my prospects were, what my lifestyle should be in future. It was such a bewildering experience that I wanted to read something written by a fellow victim that might encourage my recovery.  There was nothing available. The only written works were by heart professionals who knew a lot about hearts from the outside but little about fear from the inside.

So I wrote 'One Man's Heart Attack', a book that could share real experiences with others who might require assurance from somebody who'd been there. It takes about 40 minutes to read; attention spans after coronary events are usually quite short!

Twenty years later aged 76 and having survived rather well, I had to have a quadruple by-pass. The cardiologist who advised this procedure produced a copy of my book from his desk drawer. 'Did you write this?' he asked. I admitted that I had. I thought he might tell me everything that was wrong with it but instead he asked me to sign his copy!

When I read it now I realize how much my writing has improved since 1989 but I was new to authorship then. Despite my wishing I could re-write it it is still relevant to anybody who seeks to share an insider's experiences.

'One Man's Heart Attack' was published by New House Publishing for general sale. A special edition was published for CIBA-Geigy for distribution to doctors in New Zealand. It is out of print but can still be found at ABE Books, Amazon.com, Ebay and TradeMe; or from me - I have a few copies left.


24 October 2010

My Books: Country Churches of New Zealand

I must confess right at the start that I am not religious. This book is all about small church architecture. But while writing and illustrating it I was impressed by the dedication and faith of the people who almost put church before home and family in their drive to erect houses of worship. Some of these churches date to the very earliest years of settlement of New Zealand by European - mainly British - immigrants.

Published by New Holland, the book has been out of print for a year or two although you might still find a copy in the odd bookshop. Other options are ABE Books, Amazon.com, TradeMe and EBay. Don't ask me for a copy, they've all gone!


23 October 2010

My Books: Second Bite

This piece of fictional nonsense is full of sex and violence and based on a real murder that was perpetrated upon Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common, South London, England. It should have been published by Hazard Press who published my first novel 'The Wastings' but they broke the contract and I was too sensible to sue them

So I published it myself and the only way you can buy a copy is by contacting me by email. But be quick because there are few left!


22 October 2010

My Books: Anzac Memories

I compiled this selection of images and quotations from the First World War for New Holland Ltd. in 2005. The selection of quotations, which were applied to some pretty serious images, was designed to be somewhat cynical. I've always been fascinated by the Great War - 'The War to End All Wars' - because it combined utter stupidity with unbelievable courage.

Only twenty years later the 'War to End All Wars' was resumed with Germany its initiator. More stupidity. More courage.

This book, though in short supply,  is still available from some bookstores, and can be found on Amazon.com, ABE Books, TradeMe and E-Bay.


21 October 2010

My Books: Little Donny's Bedside Book

When I retired from formal business in 1990 I took up writing books and articles. The articles in this collection were written at spot moments over twenty years until 2010. They were published in newspapers, magazines and blogs. They are largely unchanged and so carry references to on-that-particular-day happenings in modern history. But I might have changed a name or two in order to make them more relevant to present reading.

The book is available from Blurb.com. Go to: www.blurb.com, enter 'Don Donovan' in the search box and my book will appear.


20 October 2010

My Books: Antipasto

I have recently published this book which is a collection of random samplings from various writings, watercolours and photographs made over a few years of visits to Italy - particularly Tuscany. Among many other things, it touches upon Florence, Lucca, Barga and the hill villages of the Garfagnana, that area between the Apuane Alps and the Apennines that is drained by the Serchio River.

It also includes visits to Umbria: Carsulae, Terni and San Gemini.

The book is available from Blurb.com. Go to: www.blurb.com, enter 'Don Donovan' in the search box and my book will appear.


17 October 2010

New Zealand's Westland: Hokitika Beach

Tracking west from Hokitika Beach you'll not see land until you reach South America. The sea rolls in, unimpeded for thousands of kilometres, leaving the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand one of the harshest in the world with few safe harbours most of which have tide-thrown bars at their entrances.

And yet in the mid-nineteenth century when this narrow strip of land between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea was explored and raped minutely by gold miners from all over the world, its harbours - especially Hokitika's - were crammed with ships, tall ships, sailing ships whose skippers, picking their moments, took on the bars in the hope of coming to safe haven. Many didn't make it, consigning their passengers, crews and cargoes to the sea. 

Nobody really knows how many wrecks lie off these shores although timbers still wash ashore to join the litter of tree branches and stumps that are shot out to sea from Westland's rivers only to be cast up again by the westerly tides.

This is Hokitika Beach on a fine evening...



14 October 2010

11 October 2010

Central Otago: Lake Hawea - the Promise

This is a view from Lake Hawea, east of the main divide. It promises savage weather through the pass and to the west. On this day it was harsh but grand, the layers of mist and rain dramatically delineating distance from one mountain range to another. And yet, when we reached our goal at Haast Township the sun came out! It's almost impossible to predict what you might find at the end of this winding, wild precipitous road; but it is as much fun to travel hopefully as it is to arrive.



09 October 2010

Haast Road mosses, South Westland New Zealand.

The Haast Pass lies on the south-west corner of New Zealand, north of Fiordland. It is an area that's steep, bush-clad; parts of it are little explored. There are very few tracks and even fewer roads. The main road through the pass connects Central Otago to the West Coast over the main divide of the Southern Alps.

The change from the drier, warmer, gentler landscape of Otago to the wilder West Coast is abrupt because the mountains themselves trap the easterly flow of air coming from the Tasman Sea and cause great dumps of rain on South-Westland. In the space of an hour you can pass from a land of sere tussock grasses to rich rain forests, trees hung with sphagnum moss and wonderfully verdant rock mosses. Those in the illustration lie beside the highway, they glisten with droplets of leaching moisture close by hundreds of silvery cascades that drain slopes whose peaks, more often than not, are wreathed in mist and low cloud.



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By Don Donovan