Now, Now, Louison by Jean Frémon $36
A remarkable fictional autobiography of Louise Bourgeois, in the form of a self-addressing interior monologue.
"A truly wonderful book. Jean Frémon knew Louise Bourgeois, and in his words that are also her words I discovered her ahain in all her bitter, tender, heroic, violent creativity. There is something uncanmny at play in this small book, something I don't fully grasp. but I suspect that elusive, haunted excess may be exactly why I love it. " - Siri Hustvedt
>>Louise Bourgeois as I knew her.
>>Something like a portrait of Louise Bourgeois.
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso $37
The first graphic novel ever to have been long-listed for the Booker Prize. "A profoundly American nightmare. The fictional killing in Sabrina is disturbing, but Drnaso doesn't fixate on the gore or the culprit; he's more concerned with how the public claims and consumes it, spinning out morbid fantasies with impunity. It's a shattering work of art." - Ed Park, New York Times
>> Some pages.
>> Very mild spoilers.
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan $33
A novel of slavery and freedom, fulfillment and restriction, love and anger, in which a young slave survives a Barbados plantation, reveals an astounding artistic talent, and, with his new master, eludes capture and enters a world of fantastic possibility. From the author of Half Blood Blues.
Short-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.
>> I've never regretted a lost sentence.
>> Edugyan in conversation with Attica Locke.
Poemland by Chelsey Minnis $30
"If you open your mouth to start to complain I will fill it with whipped cream." A remarkable sequence of lines, beamed at us straight from the frontiers of poetry: surprising, disorienting, stimulating, even overstimulating, to great effect, "like waking up drunk in a lemon yellow room."
Old Masters, A comedy by Thomas Bernhard and Nicolas Mahler $48
Quite how the celebrated Austrian cartoonist Nicolas Mahler managed to make such an enjoyable graphic novel out of a novel told entirely in interior monologue and remembered dialogue by the celebrated Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, a book in which nothing happens, in which the narrator, Atzbacher is entirely obscured by his subject, Reger, is uncertain, but the results are a hugely satire of mores and pretensions, in the arts and in society.
>> Read Thomas's review of Bernhard's original novel.
>> Some sample pages.
Sex and Rage: Advice for young ladies eager for a good time by Eve Babitz $23
Fed up with the superficial pleasure-seeking of her sun-and-surf, pleasure-and-leisure life in Los Angeles, Jacaranda heads for New York and a new life as a writer. Babitz's dreamy-yet-sharp 1979 novel has been reissued to new acclaim.
"This novel is studded with sharp observations. Babitz's talent for the brilliant line, honed to a point, never interferes with her feel for languid pleasures." - The New York Times Book Review
"Babitz's style is cool, conversational, loose, yet weighed with a seemingly effortless poetry." - Guardian
>> Pleasure for pleasure's sake.
Brutal Bloc Post Cards edited by Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell $50
Brutalist hotels, avant-garde monuments and futurist TV towers: rare and previously unpublished vintage postcards from the Eastern Bloc.
The Witches of Benevento: Mischief season by John Bemelmans Marciano and Sophie Blackall $30
Benevento, a town in southern Italy, is famous for its witches, who are not broomstick-riding hags but a variety of supernatural beings. Among them are the Janara, who fly about on stormy nights performing mischief; the Clopper, an old witch who chases children through the streets of town; and the Manalonga, who hide in wells and under bridges and try to drag children down. Benevento is an ancient town; a Roman theatre is at the centre, a castle fortress overlooks the town and the river, and farmland surrounds it. The stories in the 'Witches of Benevento' series take place in the 1820s and feature five children, two of whom are twins. Book #2 is The All-Powerful Ring.
>> Website (fun).
Flu Hunter: Unlocking the secrets of a virus by Robert G. Webster $35
Webster's research into the 1918 influenza epidemic, which included exhuming the frozen corpses of flu victims in the Arctic, enabled him to build a model of genesis and spread of influenza viruses, and their potential for epidemics. Confirming his hypothesis that the natural ecology of these viruses, and the origins of new strains, was among waterbirds, New Zealander Webster gained world-wide recognition for his contributions to the understanding of the disease, ad for his modelling of its spread.
Khazana: A treasure trove of modern Mughal dishes by Saliha Mahmood Ahmed $55
Indo-Persian food conveying the flavours and culinary approaches of the Mughal Empire.
Shape of Light: 100 years of photography and abstract art by Simon Baker and Emmanuelle de l’Ecotais $55
A good survey of photography and its relationship to abstraction since 1910.
Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin $35
"Told in a clear, powerful prose that grabs the reader from the off, the novel is an unflinching look at a life of a young woman recovering from trauma. The offbeat story of mid-20s narrator Mona, who makes her living as a cleaner first in Massachusetts and later in New Mexico, is by turns laugh-out-loud funny and deeply affecting as past abuses are revealed." - Irish Times
"This book is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine on acid." - Sara Wingfield
In sorting through how patients, insurance companies, advertising agencies, filmmakers, and comedians misconstrue a doctor 's role, Andrew Bomback (M.D.) realises that even doctors struggle to define their profession. As the author attempts to unravel how much of doctoring is role-playing, artifice, and bluffing, he examines the career of his father, a legendary pediatrician on the verge of retirement, and the health of his infant son, who is suffering from a vague assortment of gastrointestinal symptoms.
Vegan Recipes from Spain by Gonzalo Baró $50
A remarkable and often overlooked traditional cuisine, along with innovations and extemporisations using fresh ingredients and Iberian approaches.
A Politically Incorrect Feminist: Creating a movement with bitches, lunatics, dykes, prodigies, warriors and wonder women by Phyllis Chesler $45
The 'second wave' feminist awakening of the early 1970s was distilled in the rage and passion of individuals, many of the more prominent of whom (Gloria Steinem, Kate Millett, Flo Kennedy, and Andrea Dworkin) were close associates of Chesler, which makes her profiles of them particularly interesting and unfiltered.
Fashion Climbing: A New York life by Bill Cunningham $40
Drawn to fashion despite his family's opposition, Cunningham moved to New York and made a name for himself as a photographer, personality and designer. He remained, however, a secretive man, and this memoir was not available for publication until after his death.
>>Have you seen the film about Cunningham?
Blanket by Kara Thompson $22
We are born into blankets. They keep us alive and they cover us in death. We pull and tug on blankets to see us through the night or an illness. They shield us in mourning and witness our most intimate pleasures. Curious, fearless, vulnerable, and critical, this book interweaves cultural critique with memoir to cast new light on a ubiquitous object.
What is Philosophy For? by Mary Midgley $39
Do we still need philosophy to help us think about knowledge, meaning and value? (Yes.)
Shakespeare's Library: Unlocking the greatest mystery in literature by Stuart Kells $40
Knowing what Shakespeare read would provide new levels of insight into his works, but which books did he read and where are they now?
Fake by Kati Stevens $23
What distinguishes the authentic from the imitation? How does our relationship with, and attitude towards, a copy or a stand-in differ from the relationships and attitudes we develop with and towards the authentic and the original (if at all)? Can we know the difference? Can we ever escape the ersatz?
Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany, 1919-1933 by Matthew Gale and Katy Wan $35
Although 'magic realism' is a term today more commonly associated with the 20th-century literature of Latin America, it was first coined in 1925 by the German art historian and critic Franz Roh to describe an emerging style of modern realist paintings with fantasy or dreamlike subjects. This interesting and often surprising survey of art in Weimar Germany and Austria includes work by Otto Dix, George Grosz, Christian Schad, and Jeanne Mammen.
A Very Late Story by Marianna Coppo $28
The characters in this book know that they're characters in a book, and they know that they are therefore entitled to a story - but where is it? Perhaps waiting for the story is the story.
>> c.f. Waiting for Elmo.
Heart-Breaker by Claudia Dey $33
In subzero temperatures, mother Billie Jean Fontaine walks out of her bungalow barefoot, takes her husband's truck and drives off into the wilderness alone. She never returns. But no one ever leaves The Territory, a community cut off from the rest of the world, a place warped by its own strange ways where the people believe the year is 1985. Here they live by their own rules - until this woman breaks them.
"A dark star of a book." - Lauren Groff
"I loved its every page." - Sheila Heti
Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller $37
A woman becomes obsessed with a couple she meets at a country house. What is the secret trauma that lies behind the attachment?
"Rich and compelling." - Guardian
The Ruinous Sweep by Tim Wynne-Jones $28
Was there a fight? A murder? An accident? As Donovan lies in a hospital bed, his girlfriend, Beatrice, tries to piece together what has happened to him. "The Ruinous Sweep is a story with parallel narratives that converge in the middle. The author’s descriptions of the state in which Donovan is trapped – unconscious but experiencing terrifying, realistic visions, and unable to wake up – evoke a sense of fear and frustration in the reader. Beatrice’s narrative is more straightforward – and her tense interactions with adults, particularly the condescension she experiences from a police officer assigned to Donovan’s case, as well as the disdain for teenage relationships from a cold hospital nurse, are remarkably true to life." - Quill & Quire
New York: Capital of food (recipes and stories) by Lisa Nieschlag and Lars Wentrup $45
So many cuisines (all of them good).
Spectrum: Heritage patterns and colours by Ros Byam Shaw $55
Drawing from the Victoria and Albert Museum's unparalleled collections of wallpapers and fabrics, this useful book analyses colour palettes from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. The exemplars are arranged chronologically with their own double-page spreads that explain the significance of the palette. A colour grid is shown beside each pattern, in which the colors in the original piece are shown in proportion to their use, and with their CMYK references to enable designers to replicate these colors in their own work. Useful, beautiful, interesting.
Munro: A Cat. A Mouse. A Crossword Clue. by Sharon Murdoch $20
Every morning, in a quiet corner of the kitchen, the puzzle page from the newspaper mysteriously appears beneath Munro the cat's food bowl. Munro and Mouse ponder the clues. A delightful, whimsical, witty collection from the New Zealand Cartoonist of the Year for the last three years.
"Munro is a recognisable cat who does things familiar to cat owners: the fastidious washing between his toes, the determined sleeping in a tight ball, the turned-back and ears set at an irritable horizontal, upside down paper-shredding, and bristling displeasure. The fact the cat reads, takes mice for rides, goes ice-skating, and that birds have bicycles, is the buoyant part of the art. The peculiar joy of it all!" - Elizabeth Knox
Make Blackout Poetry: Turn these pages into poems by John Carroll $30
Use a marker pen to delete the words you don't want on this anthology of source pages. What you are left with is poetry, but whose? Especially fun if done in parallel with another text-deleting poet.
>> A few similarly crafted examples from our 2018 poetry competition, The Great New Zealand Prose Deletion.
Stardust and Substance: The New Zealand General Election of 2017 edited by Stephen Levine $40
A retrospective kaleidoscope view of the seven-and-a-half week campaign that changed the landscape of New Zealand politics. Perspectives from party leaders, campaign leaders, media commentators and other experts and observers. *Includes a DVD!* Let's read this.