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A Book

by Desi Arnaz

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Got to say, one stupid title for a book!

This was my first attempt at writing a review on GR’s shiny new book page! & so far everything very slow. & private notes don’t show while writing the review.

Much the same, as trying to do anything now as a GR librarian!

But I digress.

I have never seen I Love Lucy (other than excerpts on various television specials) but my late mother loved this show & said it was way funnier than any of Lucille Ball’s subsequent TV programmes.

The start of the book about Desi’s privileged childhood in Cuba & the contrast in his life after the family had to flee to Miami after the Cuban Revolution in 1933. From a life of luxury Desi went to cleaning canary cages in Miami. I really admired the boundless optimism, self belief & creativity that kept him going & eventually he did make it in the music world.

When he fell in love with, & then married Lucille Ball, to make the marriage work they needed to live in the same place. Lucille was always (rightly most of the time!) jealous, & Desi admits to also having a jealous nature. I Love Lucy was born not without some (racist) resistance to the idea of having Lucille’s character married to a Latino. (even though that was what had happened in real life!) The programme was a huge success, & the Arnazs showed a strong entrepreneurial streak with subsequent ventures.

The couple in 1957. Public Domain photo.

But all this hard work, infidelity, & Desi’s alcoholism (although he doesn’t use this term) & health issues took a toll on their marriage, & the couple divorced in 1960. On the jacket blurb Desi does promise a sequel, but I can’t find any evidence that this eventuated.

I enjoyed this book very much! Desi has a lively writing style & has lived such an interesting life. The book does sag just a little in the middle before an ending to the fairytale romance that shocked me a little. I’m glad they became friends again in later life.

This book is supposed to be collectable now. I guess I will find out if that is true for the NZ market when I list it on TradeMe.

& an extra for WordPress. What does everyone think of Goodreads new book page?

Impossible: My Story

by Stan Walker, Margie Thomson (Ghostwriter)

First, let’s get one thing out of the way. Impossible couldn’t be nominated for the Ockham’s (NZ Book Awards) last year as although Stan’s voice shines through, he had the services of a ghostwriter, Margie Thomson. The Ockham rules are clear – the majority of the book has to be written by the writer.

For the most part Ms Thomson does a sterling job of organising Stan’s thoughts, although the ending of the book rambles a bit.

For those of you who don’t know him, Kiwi Stan Walker won the final series of Australian Idol aged only 19. Stan has the voice of an angel, but that isn’t the most remarkable thing about him. What is truly remarkable is Stan’s ability to forgive a nomadic childhood full of physical and sexual abuse.

but when we landed on the Gold Coast the heat was a whole other thing. It was so hot it shocked us when we got off the plane. And there was Pāpā, and we had our new beginning. But of course we didn’t. You can’t just move somewhere else and expect the problem to change. You’re the problem, and you take it with you wherever you go. Be a drug dealer and a rip off and an abuser in New Zealand, you’ll be exactly the same in Australia. It was all exactly the same, and the cops started coming around to get my dad, just like they did back home.

Since this is real life, I don’t consider it a spoiler to say Stan’s whole immediate family healed through finding their faith, although finding out some truths was hard for them. And I haven’t even touched on Stan getting stomach cancer…

Not a perfect book, but still very highly recommended.

Those of you who would like to discover Stan’s voice… Much to my surprise I found that Stan himself doesn’t care much for this song.

And my favourite is the duet he sang with fellow Kiwi Ginny Blackmore;

Mophead Tu

by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved Mophead and I love it’s sequel as well!

Selina (NZ’s Poet Laureate at the time) is invited to read a poem to the Queen at Westminster Abbey.

Being called a

doesn’t phase her, but having to work from a word that the Queen has chosen calls for a bit of thinking and reflection.

The book that has resulted is hilarious!

The illustrations aren’t quite the same quality as the first Mophead book (but I love this one of the late Prince Philip!)

This book has some important and thought provoking messages.

Rock on, Selina!