Friday, 12 January 2018


Robinson by Jack Robinson          $30
Written following the 2016 referendum in which the UK voted to quit the European Union, Robinson is in part a record of the disfiguring influence of Defoe’s novel on British education and culture. The latter-day Robinsons of Kafka, Céline, Patrick Keiller and others are surveyed, and Robinson himself as a fictional character – more ‘a sort of ghost’ – makes known his opinion of the author.
"Quirky and stylish, Robinson is Robinson’s witty and indefinable response to Brexit. Readers are taken on an erudite journey through the many different versions of Robinson Crusoe since the original 'father of all Crusoes' who 'built a wall and fortified it with guns'." - The Irish Times
"This is a very witty, quick-moving book. It has to be witty, because it is about the depressing, miserable condition of contemporary Britain. It has to be quick-moving, because it covers a lot of ground – vignettes, glimpses, quick recreations or summaries of many books, photographs, films. It's a book about literature (and much else) but free of the encumbering formalities of academic writing." - Christopher Palmer
>> Read an extract.
The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregor          $30
Eleven prequel stories of the characters appearing in the acclaimed Reservoir 13
"McGregor writes with such grace and precision, with love even, about who and where we are, that he leaves behind all other writers of his generation." - Sarah Hall
Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz           $30
A woman is beset by extreme ambivalences of every kind, particularly her longing for and revulsion by family life. If a thought is thought it must be thought until its end, and Harwicz maps the darkest (and most common) paths of thought sensitively in exquisite prose. 
Blue Land and City Noise: An Expressionist stroll through art and literature by Cathrin Klingsohr-Leroy      $60
A beautifully presented selections of Expressionist art and of the more-seldom-seen Expressionist literature, all claiming the value of a subjective response to the world. 
The Absence of Absalon by Simon Okotie        $28
An unnamed investigator investigates a series of disappearances: of his colleague, Marguerite; of Harold Absalon, the Mayor's transport advisor, whose disappearance Marguerite had been investigating prior to his own disappearance; of Richard Knox, the owner of the townhouse, who had fallen out with Absalon before disappearing; and of Absalon's wife Isobel. What is going on? How do objects stand in the way of understanding? A highly original approach to crime-fiction narrative. 
"This is literature as insanity, the mind stuck in an endless loop - focused, it would appear, too closely on the job at hand. The detective story as existential crisis took form with Beckett's Molloy more than 60 years ago; and the concept of the novel as crazed digression was first incarnated in Tristram Shandy, over 250 years ago. Okotie is in very good company - and has also set himself a high bar. He succeeds. Superbly. - Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
Moving Kings by Joshua Cohen         $38
Twenty-one-year-olds Yoav and Uri, veterans of the last Gaza War, have just completed their compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces. In keeping with national tradition, they take a year off for rest, recovery, and travel. They come to New York City and begin working for Yoav’s distant cousin David King—a proud American patriot, Republican, and Jew, and the recently divorced proprietor of King’s Moving Inc, a heavyweight in the Tri-State area’s moving and storage industries. What starts off as a profitable if eerily familiar job—an “Occupation”—quickly turns violent when they encounter one homeowner seeking revenge.
"This is a book of brilliant sentences, brilliant paragraphs, brilliant chapters. There’s not a page without some vital charge — a flash of metaphor, an idiomatic originality, a bastard neologism born of nothing. Cohen is an extraordinary prose stylist." — James Wood, New Yorker
Do It the French Way by Daniel Gaujac       $45
As well as building the "hideous monstrosity" that has become France's foremost visual icon, Gustav Eiffel also build the Thuir Distillery in 1873, which was the origin of many of France's iconic aperitifs, including Pernod Absinthe, Byrrh, Lillet, Ricard and Suze. The first half of this book features photographs of the restored distillery, the second contains illustrated recipes from some of the world's foremost bartenders for cocktails based on these aperitifs. All in all a very pleasing book. 
Difficult Women by David Plante         $38
Pen portraits of the aged, alcoholic, Lear-like Jean Rhys; Sonia Orwell, George Orwell's widow, both exploiter and victim; and Germaine Greer, always ready to make a virtue of her difficulty. Plante writes revealingly throughout, revealingly often of himself.

A Wood of One's Own by Ruth Pavey         $33
What is the point of leaving London, seeking a piece of land upon which to plant a wood and then discovering the unromantic complexities of rural life if you do not also write a charming book about your experiences doing so? 
Ice by Anna Kavan          $33
A pleasing new hardback edition of Kavan's classic post-apocalyptic novel, described by Peter Owen as "a cross between Kafka and The Avengers". Inspired by the two years Kavan spent in New Zealand, which she constantly felt as close to the Antarctic, by the ice imagery common to heroin addiction (she overdosed in 1968, the year after Ice was published), and by a David Attenborough television documentary, Ice is a tale of obsession set in a world threatened by a vast ice sheet in the wake of a nuclear war. 
"There is nothing else like it. This ice is not psychological ice or metaphysical ice; here the loneliness of childhood has been magicked into a physical reality as hallucinatory as the Ancient Mariner's." - Doris Lessing
The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a global world by Maya Jasanoff        $70
Migration, terrorism, the tensions between global capitalism and nationalism, the promise and peril of a technological and communications revolution: these forces shaped the life and work of Joseph Conrad at the dawn of the twentieth century. 
"The Dawn Watch will win prizes, and if it doesn’t, there is something wrong with the prizes." - Guardian 

Revolutionary Yiddishland: A history of Jewish radicalism by Alain Brossat and Sylvie Klingberg        $23
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. Now in paperback. 

Robot House by Peter Testa      $55
New applications and developments in robotics are transforming architectural practice (and theory too, for that matter). This book takes us to the forefront of design. 

Dawn of the New Everything: A journey through virtual reality by Jaron Lanier      $40
An account of the enormous paradigm shift implied by technological advances in the last three decades, advances that find us on the brink of wholly new ways of being and thinking. Written by one of the pioneers in the field. 
"A deeply human, highly personal and beautifully told story." - Dave Eggers
A Plea for the Animals by Matthieu Ricard        $40
The moral, philosophical and evolutionary imperatives for not only treating animals with compassion but also for recognising that they and we have common natures and concerns. 
Under the Knife: A history of surgery in 28 remarkable operations by Arnold van de Laar       $38
The history of surgery is one of conceptual revolutions as much as technical revolutions. 
Paladares: Recipes inspired by the private restaurants of Cuba by Anya von Bremzen and Megan Fawn Schlow     $60
Cuban cuisine is notable not only for the appreciation of 'ordinary' ingredients but for the inventiveness in their treatment. This book is meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated. 
I, Mammal: The story of what makes us mammals by Liam Drew       $27
What does it mean for us to have more in common with a horse and an elephant than we do with a parrot, snake or frog?

Extreme Cities: The peril and promise of urban life in the age of climate change by Ashley Dawson     $35
Cities are ground zero for climate change, contributing the lion's share of carbon to the atmosphere, while also lying on the frontlines of rising sea levels. Rethinking cities and the way we use them could make all the difference not only to the environment but to issues of inequality and social justice also. 
A Cat, a Man, and Two Women by Junichiro Tanizaki        $23
Shinako has been ousted from her marriage by her husband Shozo and his younger lover Fukuko. She's lost her home, status and respectability, but the only thing she longs for is Lily, the elegant tortoiseshell cat she shared with her husband. As Shinako pleads for Lily's return, Shozo's reluctance to part with the cat reveals his true affections, and the lengths he'll go to hold onto the one he loves most.

Perfect Simple: Inspired eating from a Nordic kitchen by Simon Bajada         $40
The clean, fresh flavours of modern Scandinavian cuisine are an expression of simple ingredients, traditional preparations and contemporary approaches. 

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio          $38
Compared with Donna Tartt's A Secret History, If We Were Villains is a riveting mix of love and murder set in an elite drama college specialising in Shakespeare (what else?). 
Gender Medicine by Marek Glezerman         $23
Recent research has suggested that both diagnosis and prescription are jeopardised by the assumption easy assumptions about the similarity of subjects, when the differences between subjects, for instance in gender, may be instrumental in achieving desired health outcomes (so to call them). This book examines more flexible approaches.
Eleanor and Hick: The love affair that shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn        $37
In 1932, as her husband assumed the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt entered the claustrophobic, duty-bound existence of the First Lady with dread. A lifeline came to her in the form of a campaign reporter for the Associated Press: Lorena Hickok. 

At War with War: 5000 years of conquests, invasions and terrorist attacks, An illustrated timeline by Seymour Chwast         $37
Balances anger and despair with wit and humanity. 
>> A video about design legend Seymour Chwast and about this book

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