Road Reads

Sunday, May 13, 2007

BOOK: "Kiwis Might Fly," by Polly Evans (Delta, $13).

TARGET AUDIENCE: Armchair bikers and marmite eaters.

The fact that you have an absurdly shallow premise needn't prevent you from producing an entertaining book. Brit wit Evans hears to her horror that the "real Kiwi bloke" is endangered -- the hirsute, taciturn mesomorphs who could fix anything with a wee bit of wire are becoming "Sensitive New-Age Guys." So she searches New Zealand for the last ones, riding an overpowered motorcycle that scares the hell out of her. (Nothing Freudian in that or anything.)

Evans's quest (originally chronicled in 2004 in the U.K.) takes her from Auckland (too urban for real blokes) through Maori country to the South Island's tip. She finds potential blokes, but each has some flaw: They have allergies or actually care for their children, for example. Even adventure tourism capital Queenstown, where adrenaline is "just a recreational drug," disappoints. It's all gentle ribbing, though, and often aimed at herself. And she gives us fine word pictures of an incredibly scenic land and sincerely friendly people. -- Jerry V. Haines

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