Friday, 9 March 2018
An introduction to some of the new titles that arrived this week. Click through to find out more, and to reserve your copies.
The Holidays by Blexbolex $35
At the end of the summer, a girl spends time at her grandfather’s place in the countryside. Then an unexpected guest arrives, who the girl doesn’t like. Through images and the characters’ actions, the book tells the story of those few days and what happens - it's about the assumptions we make that aren’t always right.
"An entirely new, wholly different form of bewitching visual storytelling." - Brainpickings
>> An interview with Blexbolex.
The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi Sapoka $37
How easy is it for a woman to blaze her own creative path? Ivory Frame escapes her aristocratic family to interwar Paris, where she becomes an artist of the Surrealist set. Many years later she is working on her last masterpiece and looking back over her life. A novel inspired by the life of Leonora Carrington.
"The Dictionary of Animal Languages is such a special book, suffused with an almost painterly intelligence. Sopinka's characters experience the world with an intensity we associate with children and visionaries. Watching them navigate the difficulties of the humdrum and the glamorous both is a distinctive, if unsettling, pleasure." — Rivka Galchen
"Not only a dictionary of animal language, but also an atlas of the human heart, Heidi Sopinka's gorgeous debut novel maps the difficult territory between history and memory, love and loss." —Johanna Skibsrud
All This by Chance by Vincent O'Sullivan $35
"If we don't have the past in mind, it is merely history. If we do, it is still part of the present." A thoughtfully written novel tracing the trauma of the Holocaust and of unspoken secrets through three generations of a family, crossing between Britain and New Zealand.
The Territory is Not the Map by Marilia Garcia $22
The distance between territory and map, the distance between a journey and the language used to write about it, the distance between one language and another - there is no straight line to measure any of this. A sequence of poems from one of the most exciting contemporary poets writing in Portuguese.
>> Read a sample poem.
After the Winter by Guadelupe Nettel $40
When a shy young Mexican woman moves to Paris to study literature, this begins to move the loom upon which the relationships of many people are woven.
"Nettel creates marvellous parallels between the sorrows and follies of her human characters and the creatures they live with." - New York Times
"The gaze Nettel turns on madness both temperate and destructive, on manias, on deviances, is so sharp that it has us seeing straight into our own obsessions." - Le Monde
Spring by Karl Ove Knausgaard $38
The third of Knausgaard's seasonal quartet covers one day in that season (13 April 2016) in the life of a man and his newborn daughter, a day filled with its own particulars but also manifesting the weight of the past, especially of something that happened in Summer nearly three years before.
Wanted: The search for the modernist murals of E. Mervyn Taylor edited by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith $80
New Zealand artist E. Mervyn Taylor was not only an internationally influential wood engraver. During the burgeoning of New Zealand nationalist-cultural focus in the 1960s he produced a dozen murals for government and civic buildings. Some were later destroyed or covered over. This book records the search for a distinctive artistic legacy.
Maybe Esther by Katja Petrowskaja $35
From Berlin to Warsaw to Moscow to Kiev, Petrowskaja's search for her family's twentieth-century history encompasses a great-uncle sentenced to death for shooting a German diplomat, a grandfather who disappeared during World War 2 and reappeared forty years later, and a great-gandmother, maybe named Esther, who, being too frail to leave Kiev when the Jews rewe being rounded up, was shot by the Nazis outside her home.
"Rarely is research into family history this exciting, this moving. If this were a novel it would seem exaggerated and unbelievable. This is great literature." - Der Spiegel
"There's a literary miracle on every page here. There's poetry and politics in this family memoir, but most of all there's the pleasure of being in the company of Petrowskaja's talent. A Proust for the Google age." - Peter Pomerantsev
Anchor Stone by Tony Beyer $40
Beyer's poetry has a clarity and space that allows meaning and association to orbit the lines and create patterns of resonance indicative of hitherto inaccessible levels of experience, both of society and the natural world.
Short-listed for the poetry award in the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
The Facts by Therese Lloyd $25
Poetry and relationships pull against each other, or buoy each other, in this collection of poems set against a failing marriage and an assertion of artistic vitality.
He's So Masc by Chris Tse $30
An acerbic, acid-bright, yet unapologetically sentimental and personal reflection on what it means to perform and dissect identity, as a poet and a person.
Dear Oliver: Uncovering a Pakeha history by Peter Wells $40
Well's discovery of a cache of letters among his elderly mother's effects led him to unravel the many strands of his family's history, and to find very personal experiences of the war against Te Kooti, the Boer War, the Napier earthquake, the Depression, class fluidity, personal and collective crises and AIDS.
Pasture and Flock: New and selected poems by Anna Jackson $35
Pastoral yet gritty, intellectual and witty, sweet but with stings in their tails, the poems and sequences collected in Pasture and Flock are essential reading for both long-term and new admirers of Jackson’s slanted approach to lyric poetry.
>> Read a sample.
Object-Related Ontology: A new theory of everything by Graham Harman $24
The world is clearly not the world as manifest to humans, says Harman: "'To think a reality beyond our thinking is not nonsense, but obligatory." At OOO's heart is the idea that objects - whether real, fictional, natural, artificial, human or non-human - are mutually autonomous. This core idea has significance for nearly every field of inquiry which is concerned in some way with the systematic interaction of objects, and the degree to which individual objects resist full participation in such systems.
Fathers and Sons by Howard Cunnell $25
As a boy growing up on the south coast of England, Howard Cunnell's sense of self was dominated by his father's absence. Starting with his own childhood in the Sussex beachlands, Cunnell tells the story of the years of self-destruction that defined his young adulthood and the escape he found in reading and the natural world. Still he felt compelled to destroy the relationships that mattered to him. Cunnell charts his journey from anger to compassion as his daughter Jay realizes he is a boy, and a son.
"There is so much aching love in this book, such pain and beauty." - Tim Winton
"Dazzlingly beautiful. This is truly heart-stopping writing." - The Financial Times
The Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorensen $35
It's 1969 and a remote coastal town in Western Australia is poised to play a pivotal part in the moon landing. Perched on the red dunes of its outskirts looms the great Dish: a relay for messages between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas. Crouched around a single grainy set, radar technician Evan Johnson and his colleagues stare at the screen, transfixed. Watching all this, and narrating this novel, is a caged bird, a galah named Lucky.
"Warm and smart." - The Australian
Future Sex: A new kind of free love by Emily Witt $25
How does the internet, personalised technology and shifts in ideas of empowerment, individuality and transpersonal identity alter the way we think and act about sex? Does this make it any easier or any harder to integrate or separate sex and love?
Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2018 edited by Jack Ross $35
Work from featured poet Alistair Paterson and a raft of established and emerging poets, as well as essays on poetics and reviews of collections published in the last year.
Maori Oral Tradition / He Korero no te Ao Tawhito by Jane McRae $45
A good overview of the resources and potentials of oral literature.
Look at Me by Mareike Krugel $37
Katharina's husband isn't coming home for the weekend - again - so she's on her own. When their chaotic daughter Helli has a nosebleed, Kat has to dash off to school to pick her up. Then their son, Alex, announces he's bringing his new girlfriend home for the first time. Kat's best friend from college is coming around tonight too, and she's wondering if she should try to seduce him - but first she needs to do the shopping, the vacuuming and the laundry, deal with an exploding clothes-dryer, find their neighbour's severed thumb in the front yard and catch a couple of escaped rodents. When she's got all that sorted, perhaps she'll have time to think about the thing she's been trying not to think about - the lump she's just found in her breast. Because you can't just die and leave a huge mess for someone else to clean up can you? And wasn't there supposed to be more to life than this?
Gone to Pegasus by Tess Redgrave $35
It's Dunedin 1892, and the women's suffrage movement is gaining momentum. Left to fend for herself when her husband's committed to the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, 23-year-old Eva meets Grace, an outspoken suffragist with an exotic and mysterious past. As the friendship between the two women grows through a shared love of music, Eva begins questioning the meaning of her marriage and her role as a woman. But Grace has a bullying husband and secrets she's been keeping from Eva, which could threaten the freedom both women find themselves fighting for.
Divided: Why we're living in an age of walls by Tim Marshall $38
In an age when mass communication links us across the globe, why are we increasingly reinforcing the barriers, both literal and figurative, between us.
Look, a Butterfly! by Yasunari Murakami $15
A white butterfly lands on many different coloured flowers. What happens when it lands on a cat?
A Way With Words: A memoir of writing and publishing in New Zealand by Chris Maclean $50
The great-grandson of New Zealand publishing pioneer George Whitcombe, Maclean has been responsible for a number of outstanding books about place, history and the outdoors in New Zealand, including Tararua: The story of a mountain range (1994), John Pascoe (2003), Stag Spooner: Wild Man from the Bush (2012), Tramping: A New Zealand History (2014), Kapiti (2000), Wellington: Telling Tales (2005) and Waikanae (2010). This book gives good insight into the New Zealand publishing industry.
In Search of Consensus: New Zealand's Electoral Act 1956 and its constitutional legacy by Elizabeth McLeay $40
In a series of backroom negotiations in 1956, the National Government and Labour Opposition agreed to put aside adversarial politics temporarily and entrench certain significant electoral rules. For any of these rules to be amended or repealed, Section 189 of the Electoral Act (now Section 268 of the 1993 Act) requires the approval of either three-quarters of all MPs or a majority of electors voting in a referendum. The MPs believed this entrenchment put in place a 'moral' constraint to guide future parliaments, but its status has changed over time. In Search of Consensus tells the story of why and how such a remarkable political settlement happened. It traces and analyses the Act's protected provisions, subsequent fortunes and enduring legacy.
Bizarre Romance by Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell $48
A quirky collection of graphic or illustrated short stories charting many different types of love, with many different outcomes.
"The book has much to say about the beauty and devastation of seeking companionship in any given human life. The collaboration is winningly strange.” — Publishers Weekly
London in Fragments: A mudlark's treasures by Ted Sandling $28
What sort of story can be told of a city based on the detritus found in the mud on the banks of the river that runs through it? Very well illustrated.
Dancing Bears: True stories of longing for the old days by Witold Szablowski $38
Why is it that some citizens of once-Communist countries exhibit such nostalgia for how they used to live? Perhaps for the same reason that dancing bears liberated into the wild will still raise themselves up on their hind legs when they see humans.
>> It's not easy running a retirement home for old dancing bears.
The Yark by Bertrand Santini and Laurent Gapaillard $20
The Yark loves children. More precisely, this hairy monster loves to eat children: ham of boy, orphan gratin, schoolchild puree, breaded babies, girl rillettes. But he has a problem: his delicate stomach can only tolerate the flesh of nice children; liars give him indigestion. There are not nearly enough good, edible children around to keep him from starvation. Then the Yark finds delicious, sweet Madeleine. Will he gobble her up? Or will she learn how to survive?