Friday, 10 February 2017
A DOZEN INTERESTING NEW RELEASES THAT ARRIVED THIS WEEK
Helper and Helper ('Snake & Lizard' #3) by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop $20
Snake and Lizard are back, negotiating their life together and finding out what the world has to offer. These wry, warm tales, beautifully illustrated by Bishop, are perfect for reading aloud or as an early chapter book.
>> You will like the other 'Snake and Lizard' books, too!
>> Not to mention Frog and Toad.
A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on art, sex and the mind by Siri Hustvedt $40
As well as being an admired novelist, Hustvedt's knowledge of neurology, psychology and art make her an incisive feminist critic. In this book she explores the genderisation of visual culture with reference to Bourgeouis, Mapplethorpe, Almodovar, Wenders and Bausch, and also the relationship between brain function and subjective experience.
>> An interview with Hustvedt.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders $33
Is this The American Book of the Dead? Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son Willie died of typhoid in 1862. This inventive and much-anticipated novel from the author of the Folio Prize-winning Tenth of December has a president, "freshly inclined toward sorrow," driven by grief into communion with the disembodied spirits of the dead in what becomes a meditation on the force of death in personal and collective histories, notably the American Civil War.
>> Read the review in The New York Times.
>> Saunders speaks.
The Big Picture: On the origins of life, meaning and the universe itself by Sean Carroll $43
Carroll does a great job of the pretty-near-impossible task of synthesising the various fields of scientific discovery, from the cosmic to the quantum to the neurological scale, into a systematic view of the nature of reality.
"Carroll beautifully articulates the world view suggested by contemporary naturalism. Thorny issues like free will, the direction of time, and the source of morality are clarified with elegance and insight. This is a book that should be read by everybody.' - Carlo Rovelli
A Card from Angela Carter by Susannah Clapp $23
We have noticed a renewal of interest in the work of Angela Carter, with pleasing new editions of The Bloody Chamber and her Fairy Tales. And what an outstanding writer she was: unconventional, agile, playful, strident, and a notable stylist. Susannah Clapp was a close friend of Carter's, and is her literary executor. This brief, evocative biography is hung upon a series of postcards sent by Carter to Clapp during their friendship. It is a delight to read and, I think, really captures Carter's personality: "She snarled and she frolicked: the combination made her strong meat."
>>We also have Edmund Gordon's excellent recent biography The Invention of Angela Carter available.
>> Are there wolves in the forest?
The Holocaust: A new history by Laurence Rees $40
Rees' book is remarkable for the amount of new information gathered from 25 years worth of interviews with Holocaust survivors and perpetrators. This research enables not only a reassessment of the social mechanisms that induced and permitted genocide but also of the range of the victims' responses. Also recorded here is the resistance, albeit ultimately futile, of individual stories to the overwhelming story that subsumed them.
>>> Also arrived this week: Denying the Holocaust: The growing assault on truth and memory by Deborah Lipstadt ($30), which asks why Holocaust deniers like David Irwin are on the rise in a post-factual world.
Urban Acupuncture: Celebrating principles of change that enhance city life by Jaime Lerner $32
Changes to a community don't need to be large-scale and expensive to have a transformative impact. In fact, one street, park, or a single person can have an outsized effect on life in the surrounding city. Imagine the Church Street Bohemian Quarter closed to traffic and becoming a model for a new way (for Nelson) of thinking about community-focused urban use!
The Dialogue of the Dogs by Muguel de Cervantes $21
Is this the first talking-dog story in Western literature? All Cervantes' concerns, both with structure and content, here writ small and going about on all fours.
This Is Memorial Device: An hallucinated oral history of the post-punk music scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and environs, 1978-1986 by David Keenan $37
A novel capturing the immense creative freedom unleashed in the aftermath of punk upon youths in a small Scottish town. Memorial Device is the name of the band, and the mechanism of the book.
"Looks set to be the first best thing you read in 2017." - The Skinny
>> "It isn't easy being Iggy Pop in a small town in the west of Scotland."
Revolutionary Yiddishland: A history of Jewish radicalism by Alain Brossat and Sylvie Klingberg $37
Socialists, Communists, Bundists, Zionists, Trotskyists, manual workers and intellectuals: before the Holocaust decimated their numbers and laid waste to the land their radicalism addressed, the Jewish communities between Russia and the Baltic brought forth a swathe of new ideas compounded of idealism and doubt. The book examines what was lost, and what might have been.
Forbidden Line by Paul Stanbridge $36
Imagine Don Quixote set in modern Essex and London, somehow adhered to residues of the Peasants' Revolt and so full of every possible brilliant and stupid thought that it comprises an assault not only upon the realist novel but upon reality itself. Not really much like anything else.
The Rose by Brent Elliot $75
Compiled by the historian at the Royal Horticultural Society, this solander box contains not only an illustrated history of forty rose species and hybrids and a survey of the cultivation and cultural significance of roses, but also an exquisite print of each of the forty roses, which you could frame if you felt so inclined.