Dedalus by Chris McCabe $38
Chris McCabe playfully reclaims the inventive spirit of the founding text of Modernism in English: Ulysses. Tracing the same structure as the original, McCabe describes the events of the following day, 17th June 1904. Stephen Dedalus wakes up, hungover, with scores and debts to settle, unaware that Leopold Bloom is waking up in Eccles street with his own plans for him. Dedalus is shot through with cut and paste disruptions from the Digital Age. From 1980s Text Adventure gaming to Google maps and pop-ups. McCabe picks up the tradition of Laurence Sterne and B.S. Johnson, underpinning the paragraphs of his storytelling with concrete poetry.
“Parts of this book will remain with me, and pollute my reading of Hamlet and Ulysses, forever. I also add it to my personal library of Great Books About Dead Fathers.” – Max Porter (author of Grief is the Thing With Feathers)
Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt $38
The much anticipated autofictional novel from the author of What I Loved. The process by which an author looks back on her earlier self and turns their mutual regard into fiction is utterly compelling.
"Among the many riches of Siri Hustvedt's portrait of a young woman finding her way as an artist are her reflections on how acts of remembering, if they reach deep enough, can heal the broken present, as well as on the inherent uncanniness of feeling oneself brought into being by the writing hand. Her reflections are no less profound for being couched as philosophical comedy of a Shandean variety." - J. M. Coetzee
>> "I'm writing for my life."
>> "Everything is autobiography and nothing is."
>> On reading.
A Velocity of Being: Letters to young readers edited by Maria Popova and Claudia Bedrick $50
A wonderful collection of accounts by outstanding people of how books and reading helped them become who they are. Each letter is accompanied by a full-page illustration from an outstanding book illustrator. Includes contributions from Jane Goodall, Neil Gaiman, Jerome Bruner, Shonda Rhimes, Ursula K. Le Guin, Yo-Yo Ma, Judy Blume, Lena Dunham, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jacqueline Woodson, Marianne Dubuc, Sean Qualls, Oliver Jeffers, Maira Kalman, Mo Willems, Isabelle Arsenault, Chris Ware, Liniers, Shaun Tan, Tomi Ungerer, and Art Spiegelman.
>> Preview on Brain Pickings.
Optic Nerve by Maria Gainza $40
A subtle and intelligent novel 'about' the relationship - and the sapce -between the art a woman views and thinks about, and her own life. What associative sparks are released in our minds when viewing art?
"Gainza is a writer who feels immediately important. I felt like a door had been kicked open in my brain." - Guardian
>> The artworks mentioned in the book.
>> Stuttering cultures.
Uncertain Manifesto by Frédéric Pajak $35
The writer and artist Frederic Pajak was ten when he began to "dream of a work that would mingle words and images: bits of adventure, collected memories, sentences, phantoms, forgotten heroes, trees, the stormy sea," but it was not until he was in his forties that this dream took form. This unusual book is a memoir born of reading and a meditation on the lives and ideas, the motivations, feelings, and fates of some of Pajak's heroes: Samuel Beckett and the artist Bram van Velde, and, especially, Walter Benjamin, whose travels to Moscow, Naples, and Ibiza, whose experiences with hashish, whose faltering marriage and love affairs and critique of modern experience Pajak re-creates and reflects on in word and image. Pajak's moody black-and-white drawings accompany the text throughout, though their bearing on it is often indirect and all the more absorbing for that. Between word and image, the reader is drawn into a mysterious space that is all Pajak's as he seeks to evoke vanished histories and to resist a modern world more and more given over to a present without a past.
>> Walter Benjamin in Ibiza.
Sea People: The puzzle of Polynesia by Christine Thompson $35
"I found Sea People the most intelligent, empathic, engaging, wide-ranging, informative, and authoritative treatment of Polynesian mysteries that I have ever read. Christina Thompson's gorgeous writing arises from a deep well of research and succeeds in conjuring a lost world." - Dava Sobel
"To those of the western hemisphere, the Pacific represents a vast unknown, almost beyond our imagining; for its Polynesian island peoples, this fluid, shifting place is home. Christina Thompson's wonderfully researched and beautifully written narrative brings these two stories together, gloriously and excitingly." - Philip Hoare
Under the Sea by Mark Leidner $33
"Reading Mark Leidner’s writing taught me how to write, and I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. He is my favourite writer. His new collection of short stories Under The Sea is unbelievably good. The stories range from long realist pieces about teenagers trying to recover stolen drugs and a middle aged women having a meltdown in a coffee shop to a Chekhovian drama set in an ant colony and a kid writing his memoirs in the style of Philip Marlowe." - Hera Lindsay Bird
>>Hera Lindsay Bird's unholy love for Mark Leidner.
Happening by Annie Ernaux $32
Ernaux's account of her experiences having an illegal abortion while a 23-year-old student in Paris in 1963 is meticulous, nuanced, and, because of its dispassionate tone, moving.
>> Read Thomas's review of The Years.
Amateur: A true story about what makes a man by Thomas Page McBee $37
In this remarkable memoir, McBee, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at Madison Square Garden while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence. Through his experience boxing - learning to get hit and to hit back, wrestling with the camaraderie of the gym, confronting the betrayals and strength of his own body - McBee examines the weight of male violence, the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes, and the limitations of conventional masculinity.
Shortlisted for the 2019 Wellcome Prize and the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize.
Doggerland by Ben Smith $33
Doggerland supposes a world in the not so distant future suffering the effects of climate change, pollution, surveillance and decay. It tells the story of an old man (who isn't really that old) and a boy (who isn't really still a boy) living alone in a post apocalyptic world tending to a vast wind farm.
"An unremittingly wet book, damp and cold and rusted, blasted by waves and tempests, but also warm, generous and often genuinely moving. It is a debut of considerable force, emotional weight and technical acumen." -Guardian"The Road meets Waiting for Godot: powerful, unforgettable, unique." - Melissa Harrison
Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi $28Iin the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present.
>> Listed for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize.
We, the Survivors by Tash Aw $35
A murderer's confession shows how widely the roots of his crime are spread in the injustices of the modern world. Ah Hock is an ordinary, uneducated man born in a Malaysian fishing village and now trying to make his way in a country that promises riches and security to everyone, but delivers them only to a chosen few. With Asian society changing around him, like many he remains trapped in a world of poorly paid jobs that just about allow him to keep his head above water but ultimately lead him to murder a migrant worker from Bangladesh.
Ursa by Tina Shaw $23
There are two peoples living in the city of Ursa: the Cerels and the Travesters. Travesters move freely and enjoy a fine quality of life. Cerel men are kept in wild camps and the women are no longer allowed to have children. The Director presides over all with an iron fist. Fifteen-year-old Leho can’t remember a time when Cerels lived without fear in Ursa. His parents once tried to organise an uprising – his mother was blinded, and his father was taken away. But now his world is changing. Revolution is coming. People will die. Will Leho be able to save his family?
Living With Earthquakes and Their Aftermath by Rosie Belton $35
Rosie Belton uses captures with intimacy and immediacy the earthquakes experienced by the people of Canterbury. Nothing could have prepared her, she says, for the severity of the quakes, starting with the first one in 2010, and then the ongoing disruption over the next six years: the grinding reality of living through so many months of shaking and the after-effects. Like many creative individuals, Belton found that writing about those terrible events as they unfolded developed into a coping mechanism. And now, the result of her careful record-keeping and reflections can be read and appreciated by others whose lives have been affected by similarly unwanted change.
"I am reminded of what Harold Nicholson wrote about London during the Blitz: the same uncertainty as to what horror was going to happen next.” – Michael Palin
>> Come and hear Rosie Belton speak. The Suter (Bridge Street). Wednesday 10 April, 5:30 PM.
Harsu and the Werestoat by Barbara Else $20
Harsu has five droplets of god blood and a treasured cloak to remember his father by. Now his father is gone, he lives with his mother, his only friend an old onager donkey. And something is not right with Harsu's mother. She has started kidnapping children, and sometimes her skin grows a soft down, little sharp ears emerge, and she turns into a horrible stoat. Harsu doesn't know if five godlet drops are enough to help him rescue the kidnapped children and turn his own mother to good. And now that he is twelve, he too might be becoming a were-animal.
The Creativity Code: How AI is learning to write, paint and think by Marcus du Sautoy $37
Can machines be creative? Will they soon be able to learn from the art that moves us, and understand what distinguishes it from the mundane? Du Sautoy examines the nature of creativity, as well as providing an essential guide into how algorithms work, and the mathematical rules underpinning them. He asks how much of our emotional response to art is a product of our brains reacting to pattern and structure, and exactly what it is to be creative in mathematics, art, language and music.
>> Too dangerous to release?
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf $18
"There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it. He's nine years old (just like me), but he's very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn't like sweets - not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite! But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really isn't very strange at all. He's a refugee who's run away from a War. A real one. With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to help."
>> The book has just won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize.
Pagan Light: Dreams and beauty in Capri by Jamie James $48
Isolated and arrestingly beautiful, the island of Capri has been a refuge for renegade artists and writers fleeing the strictures of conventional society from the time of Augustus, who bought the island in 29 BC, to the early twentieth century, when the poet and novelist Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen was in exile there after being charged with corrupting minors, to the 1960s, when Truman Capote spent time on the island. Also features the Marquis de Sade, Goethe, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Compton Mackenzie, Rilke, Lenin, and Gorky.
Natives: Race and class in the ruins of Empire by Akala $28
From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mother was white, to his first encounters with racist teacher, race and class have shaped Akala's life and outlook. In this book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left Btitain where it is today. Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain's racialised empire.
"My book of the year. It's personal, historical, political, and it speaks to where we are now. This is the book I've been waiting for - for years." - Benjamin Zephaniah
"This powerful, wide-ranging study picks apart the British myth of meritocracy." - David Olusoga, Guardian
>> Unfiltered.Neruda: The poet's calling by Mark Eisner $40
An empathetic biography of this esteemed Chilean poet, possibly murdered for opposing the Pinochet regime.
Daughters of Chivalry: The forgotten children of Edward I by Kelcey Wilson-Lee $45
Virginal, chaste, humble, patiently waiting for rescue by brave knights and handsome princes: this idealised - and largely mythical - notion of the medieval noblewoman still lingers. Yet the reality was very different, as Kelcey Wilson-Lee shows in this account of the five daughters of the English king, Edward I. The lives of these sisters - Eleanora, Joanna, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth - ran the full gamut of experiences open to royal women in the Middle Ages.
The Braid by Laetitia Colombani $28
Three women on three continents are forced by circumstances to rebel against their fates. Their stories plait together like a braid. An untouchable in India, a wig-maker in Sicily, a lawyer in Canada - are they linked by more than their courage?
Drawing, Vision and Perspective by David Jowett $19
Demonstrates a method of drawing using spherical perspective and shows it to be more accurate than more commonly used perspectival methods.
Kathy Acker: The last interview and other conversations edited by Amy Scholder and Douglas Martin $35
From Acker's earliest interviews - filled with playful, evasive, and counter-intuitive responses - to the last interview before her death where she reflects on the state of American literature.
>> A Kathy Acker documentary.