Saturday, 19 January 2019

BOOKS @ VOLUME #111 (19.1.19)

Our latest (and, notably, 111th) NEWSLETTER.


Days of Awe by A.M. Homes 
A.M.Homes is an acerbic and confident writer. A sharp stylist, her award-winning novel May We Be Forgiven (2012) remains memorable for its dark humour and shocking clarity. Homes has said of her writing: “What I'm doing, which sometimes makes people uncomfortable, is saying the things we don't want to say out loud." In her latest short story collection, Days of Awe, she holds nothing back in damning uber-wealthy American society, and the emotional and intellectual bankruptcy of contemporary life is played out through the characters across the stories. No one is exempt from Homes’s razor-sharp knife, a knife with tearing teeth. In these LA-set tales the extreme is the norm - therapy, plastic surgery (for dogs as well as humans), ever-so-perfect apartments where not-so-perfect lives play out, boredom and disappointment dressed up as gossip and intrigue, superficiality with a capital S - while the real issues, problems and heartaches are cordoned off, ignored, or laughed at. The characters, like players in a grand soap opera, are absurd in their normality - some stories become almost surreal - in their complete conviction that what they do is right even when it is obviously immoral or obscene. A.M. Homes captures these absurdities with witty dialogue and sharp observation. In 'Brother on Sunday' the competitive sibling scenario is played out to brilliant effect, with tight dialogue and sharp satire. In 'The National Caged Bird Show', all set within an online chat room about parakeets, the conversations going backwards and forwards with the usual interjections and exclamations, two of the seven attendees reveal traumatic experiences - a young girl is abused and a soldier reveals his disturbing incidents - while the others chat about feed, bird depression and health concerns and the habits of their beloved keets. Homes writes from the perspective of the old, the young, and the middle-aged, from the egotistical, the confident, the insecure, the oblivious and the damaged, showing how each is tangled up in their own lies, fantasies and obsessions. The stories make you laugh, despair and squirm, and will leave you observing society with just a little more clarity. They provide a critique of society that isn’t shy and isn’t afraid to be both absurd and truthful.   

The Essential Schopenhauer: Key selections from The World as Will and Representation and other writings by Arthur Schopenhauer , edited by Wolfgang Schirmacher  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
“Life is a business that fails to meet its costs,” declares Schopenhauer (1788-1860), setting off to demonstrate that we live in the worst of all possible worlds. The human condition is that of “a pendulum between suffering and boredom”, and yet we persist, drawn into and through existence by an unsuppressable and unsatisfiable “will-to-live”, a malignant innate force against we must struggle to escape. Life should consist of a constant (paradoxical) struggle against one’s own willing, which “springs from want, and hence from suffering” which in turn is “simply nothing but unfulfilled and thwarted willing”. Schopenhauer’s strident pessimism and his investigations into individual motivation introduced Eastern philosophies into European thought, and underlie the work of Nietzsche, Freud, Wittgenstein, Tolstoy, Mann, Borges, Beckett and many others. How then to go on? Society, and indeed all functional existence, is predicated on collective and individual self-deception. Thomas Bernhard puts it well in Walking: “There is no doubt that the art lies in bearing what is unbearable and in not feeling that what is horrible is something horrible. Of course we have to label this art the most difficult of all. The art of existing against the facts.”

This week's Book of the Week has been a huge success in France and is now casting its spell over English-language readers. Christelle Dabos's exciting YA fantasy, A Winter's Promise, takes the reader into the world of the Arks, floating celestial islands between and within which a range of remarkable characters vie for power. Will plain-spoken, headstrong Ophelia find a way through the intrigues that surround her when she follows her fiancé to the capital of a cold, icy ark known as the Pole? 
>> Read Stella's review
>> Read an excerpt
>> Step through the mirror
>> The book is translated by Hildegarde Serle.
>> A brief teaser
>> Someone has made an animated trailer
>> Le Petit Monde de la Passe-Miroir
>> FB!
>> Teaching notes.
>> Read an excerpt from the yet-to-be-published-in-English The Missing of Clairdelune (the second book in 'The Mirror Visitor' series)
>> The third book will be called The Memory of Babel

Friday, 18 January 2019


James K. Baxter: Letters of a Poet     $100
James K. Baxter was not a man of few words, and his private correspondence was no exception. Letters of a Poet, edited by his friend and frequent correspondent John Weir, contains almost 900 of Baxter's letters from 1939 to 1972, covering his teenage years and entire adult life. Frank, funny, generous, sometimes filthy, packed with poems and musings on love, the Catholic faith, and how to live well and write well, they provide remarkable new insights into his life and work. The two slip-cased volumes include letters to his parents, Archibald and Millicent Baxter, the conscientious objector Noel Ginn, and many of the leading literary figures of the time, including Charles Brasch, Allen Curnow, Frank Sargeson, Fleur Adcock, Lawrence Baigent, Barry Crump, Maurice Shadbolt, W. H. Oliver, Robin Dudding and many more.
The Blue Flowers by Raymond Queneau       $34
Which of the narrators in this twin-stranded novel is dreaming the other? The man who alternates between drinking and napping on the banks of the Seine in the 1960s, or the madcap Duke who gallops through some 700 years of French history? 
"Queneau is a unique example of a wise and intelligent writer who always goes against the grain of the dominant terndencies of his age and of French culture in particular - and he combines this with an endless need to invent and test possibilities. The Blue Flowers makes fun of history , denying its progress and reducing it to the substance of daily existence." - Italo Calvino
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado         $23
Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A sales assistant makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the dresses she sells. A woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. Now in paperback.
"Carmen Maria Machado is the best writer of cognitive dysphoria I’ve read in years. " - Tor
"Life is too short to be afraid of nothing." - Machado
Dreamers: When the writers took power, Germany, 1919 by Volker Weidermann        $40
 At the end of the First World War in Germany, the journalist and theatre critic Kurt Eisner organised a revolution which overthrew the monarchy, and declared a Free State of Bavaria. In February 1919, he was assassinated, and the revolution failed. But while the dream lived, it was the writers, the poets, the playwrights and the intellectuals who led the way. As well as Eisner, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, and many other prominent figures in German cultural history were involved.
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn           $45
What shapes our ideas of home and homelessness? Just days after Raynor learns that Moth, her husband of 32 years, is terminally ill, their home is taken away and they lose their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall. Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea and sky. This account is an astounding piece of nature writing, revealing the immense restorative power of the natural world in times of grief and stress. 
>>"The wildness of nature became the reason to go on." 
The Anarchist Who Shared My Name by Pablo Martín Sánchez     $35
When author Pablo Martín Sánchez decides to search himself on the internet, he discovers that he shares his name with an anarchist who, in November 1924, was part of an attempt to overthrow Spanish dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera. Intrigued, Martín Sánchez sets out to learn more about the life of the man who shares his namesake. What he uncovers is the fascinating account of an unintentional revolutionary, swept up in a campaign he isn’t sure he believes in—one that leads, ultimately, to a tragic fate.
An interestingly structured mixture of fiction and fact, from the first Spanish member of the OuLiPo. 
>> Read an excerpt
Salt of the Earth by Józef Wittlin         $33
An excellent new translation of Wittlin's classic antiwar novel. When the First World War comes to the Carpathian mountains, Piotr is drafted into the army. Unwilling, uncomprehending, the bewildered man is forced to fight a war he does not understand - against his national as well as his personal interests.
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday         $23
A tripartite story of relationships across boundaries of age, gender, politics and nationality.
“Asymmetry is extraordinary. Halliday has written, somehow all at once, a transgressive roman a clef, a novel of ideas and a politically engaged work of metafiction.” — The New York Times Book Review

"A scorchingly intelligent first novel...Asymmetry will make you a better reader, a more active noticer. It hones your senses." - The New York Times
"A book unlike any you've read." - Chuck Harbach
The Key to Flambards by Linda Newbery        $22
Grace Russell, at fourteen, has already had to adjust to a devastating accident from which she'll never recover. Now she and her newly-single mother are leaving their suburban home for Flambards house, out in the Essex countryside. The house has a long history, and Grace's mother is to work there for the summer - an exciting new opportunity. But, for Grace, everything feels wrong. She doesn't want yet another change. However, in spite of herself, she find herself becoming involved with two boys: Jamie, who leads her down a path of thrilling freedom, and the deeply troubled Marcus, who is dealing with his difficult, potentially violent father. Over time, Grace discovers her own links to the house and landscape she has just arrived in, and in turn, her own place in the world.
The Unhappiness of Being a Single Man: Essential stories by Franz Kafka      $25
A new selection newly translated by Alexander Starritt, and an excellent introduction to Kafka. 
>> Another excellent introduction to Kafka

Darwin's Most Wonderful Plants: Darwin's botany today by Ken Thompson      $28
Re-establishes Darwin as a pioneering botanist, whose close observations of plants were crucial to his theories of evolution.
Liquid: The delightful and dangerous substances that flow through our lives by Mark Miodownik        $40
Mark Miodownik takes us on a tour of the world of the droplets, heartbeats and ocean waves that we come across every day. Structured around a plane journey which sees encounters with substances from water and glue to coffee and wine, he shows how these liquids can bring death and destruction as well as wonder and fascination. From László Bíró's revolutionary pen and Abraham Gesner's kerosene to cutting-edge research on self-repairing roads and liquid computers, Miodownik brings the everyday to life. He reveals why liquids can flow up a tree but down a hill, why oil is sticky, and how waves can travel so far.
"Exciting, anarchic and surprising." - The Guardian
Recitation by Bae Suah       $30
The meeting between a group of emigrants and a mysterious, wandering actress in an empty train station sets the stage for this fragmentary yet lyrical meditation on language, travel, and memory. As the actress recounts the story of her stateless existence, an unreliable narrator and the interruptions of her audience challenge traditional notions of storytelling and identity.

The Legend of Sally Jones by Jakob Wegelius         $28
This is the story of a gorilla like no other. This is the story of a fantastic voyage across the world, from the Congolese rainforest to the grand bazaar of Istanbul, from Borneo to London, Singapore and beyond. The story of a mysterious jewel thief and a sad sailor with a heart of gold.  A story of friendship and adventure on the high seas. A wonderful graphic novel prequel to The Murderer's Ape

Sonam and the Silence by Ronak Taher and Eddie Ayers       $28
Why can't a young girl play music in public in Afghanistan? Beautifully drawn and affirming. 
Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher        $23
"Consider the Oyster marks M. F. K. Fisher's emergence as a storyteller so confident that she can manoeuver a reader through a narrative in which recipes enhance instead of interrupt the reader's attention to the tales. She approaches a recipe as a published dream or wish, and the stories she tells here are also stories of the pleasures and disillusionments of dreams fulfilled." - The New York Review of Books
"Since Lewis Carroll no one had written charmingly about that indecisively sexed bivalve until Mrs. Fisher came along with her Consider the Oyster. Surely this will stand for some time as the most judicious treatment in English." - Cliffton Fadiman
Dark Banquet: Blood and the curious lives of blood-feeding creatures by Bill Schutt        $35
 Sanguivores, hematophages, &c. Fascinating. 
Where Dani Goes, Happy Follows ('Dani' #6) by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson        $20
What do you do if your best friend lives in another city and the adults  can’t keep their promises about when you’ll see her? You have to sort it out for yourself!
Another book in this lovely series
The Moon in a Bowl of Water by Michael Harlow       $28
The poems are consciously rooted in Greek mythology and in the idea of storytelling as a continuous river, flowing from the ancients to the present, telling one story on the surface, but carrying in its depths the glints of ancient archetypes, symbols and myths.
The Beauty of Everyday Things by Soetsu Yanagi          $26
The daily lives of ordinary people are replete with objects, common things used in commonplace settings. These objects are our constant companions in life. As such, writes Soetsu Yanagi, they should be made with care and built to last, treated with respect and even affection. They should be natural and simple, sturdy and safe - the aesthetic result of wholeheartedly fulfilling utilitarian needs. 
The Balfour Declaration: Empire, the Mandate and resistance in Palestine by Bernard Rehan        $25
The Balfour Declaration was a statement issued by the British government in 1917 during World War I announcing support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. Regan offers new insights into the imperial rivalries between Britain, Germany and the Ottomans, and exposes British policy in the region as part of a larger geopolitical game. Yet the course of events was not straightforward, and Regan charts the ongoing debates within the British government, the Zionist movement, and the Palestinian groups struggling for self-determination.
Leaving the Lyrebird Forest by Gary Crew, illustrated by Julian Laffin        $20
A beautiful story about friendship, change and our place in nature. Beautiful woodcuts, too. 

The Only Girl: My life and times on the masthead of Rolling Stone by Robin Green          $35

Green was the only women staff writer for Rolling Stone in the early 1970s. Her perspective on the scene and on the times is compelling.
Influenza: The quest to cure the deadliest disease in history by Jeremy Brown         $38
Will genetic sequencing help us to overcome the deadly shape-shifting virus? Are there other possible approaches?
>> See also Flu Hunter: Unlocking the secrets of a virus by New Zealand flu hunter Robert Webster. 

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt        $30
What does the centuries-long fascination with these legendary figures tell us about our history, and about the relationship between ethics and biology? 

Economics for the Many edited by John McDonnell       $35
After the collapse of the neoliberal experiment, will it be possible to rebuild an economy, and a society, along more egalitarian lines? 
Tirzah and the Prince of Crows by Deborah Kay Davies       $33
Brought up by a staunchly religious family, Tirzah has always lived quite a sheltered life in the Welsh Valleys. As she reaches her teenage years, she begins to question her upbringing and her values, moving for the first time beyond the narrow confines of the world she knows.

Only the Ocean by Natasha Carthew        $25
The two girls sat at opposite ends of the boat and Kel dug and stretched the oars into the ocean like her life depended upon it because it did. 'Just so you know,' said Rose, 'everything, and I mean everything, is your fault. 
Kel Crow lives in a dead-end swamp with her deadbeat family and a damaged heart. But she has a plan to escape. It's a one-two-three fortune story that goes: stow away on the ship, kidnap the girl, swap the girl to pay for passage to America and a life-saving operation. 

Sunday, 13 January 2019

BOOKS @ VOLUME #110 (12.1.19)

Read this week's NEWSLETTER.
Find out what we've been reading. Find out about our Book of the Week, and about new books that have arrived this week. Find out about our forthcoming writing classes.

Women in the Field, One and Two by Thomasin Sleigh is this week's Book of the Week. A young British woman in post-war London is tasked with recommending acquisitions for New Zealand's National Art Gallery. When she ventures into the basement of a charismatic Russian painter, she discovers a solution that reconciles her idea of that far-away country and her own modernist sensibilities.
>> Read Stella's review
>> Sleigh on the radio
>> The author's website.
>> A selection of Thomasin Sleigh's art writing
>> Every story tells a picture. 
>> The book is published by Lawrence & Gibson, New Zealand's most independent independent publisher
>> Ad Lib


Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan  {Reviewed by STELLA}
Imagine seeing horses running wild across a city landscape - along the freeways, across the rooftops, through the alleys and over the inner city parks. Imagine that these are the horses of all the time of the city: horses that pulled carts, horses who plodded in the same circle driving the millstone, horses that worked to build a city, that carried people, were connected to carts and when they were old were still mechanisms for making money - were sold for their meat, their bones - were glue. Imagine that you are two years old in the back seat of a car travelling along the highway at night, the horses running beside, free and wild, until they come to the edge of the city landscape where they stop, unsure of this foreign place of which they know nothing. This is just one of the stories in Shaun Tan’s mesmerising collection Tales from the Inner City. Looking at the relationship between animals and humans across the ever-changing urban landscape, Tan brings us a mysterious yet familiar world, a lament as well a beautiful observation. The tales, 25 in total, take us to the brink of our humanity in their strangeness, yet also have echoes of our ability to care, to relate to the beasts in our lives that we yearn for, fear, conquer and embrace. He describes the changing relationship between human and dog - one of the earliest domesticated animals - in verse and breathtaking illustrations that explore the chasm between the two, the worlds that each inhabits and the desire to close this gap. There is a charming story about the death of a cat - a cat that a young girl and her mother discover belongs to all, not just them - that has numerous names and humans that miss it just as much - it is the cat of all cats - nicknamed by the child ‘The greatest cat in the world’, which brings a whole neighbourhood together, freeing them from their isolation and sadness. The sea and rivers no longer exist in any form for fish to live in. People fish from the rooftops of buildings, their lines stretching into the sky, the fish mostly beyond reach aside from a few tiddlers - but oh, to catch a Moonfish, the rarest delicacy! When Pim, the brother who never jerks the line, whose bait is eaten and never catches anything, does, the family are overwhelmed by excitement and surprise. Yet their pleasure doesn’t come from the expected quarters (selling the fish to the wily Mr Hiro for his famous restaurant in the subterranean city), but from something much simpler and more beautiful. Each of these stories asks us to confront our behaviour towards our mammal cousins and our fellow creatures, to imagine the world from an animal's perspective, to take responsibility for the harm we do and, conversely, for the friendship we offer, to take pleasure in reaching our own beast within, and the care with which we should protect the environs that sustain the animals we have an unfathomable yearning for. The inner city belonged to them first, and we are yet another element in the mix, entwined by history, politics and emotion. Shaun Tan’s books are exquisite, and this is no exception. Metaphysical and philosophical, the text and illustrations are stunning. Endlessly thoughtful and thought-provoking for children and adults alike. 



People in the Room by Norah Lange (translated by Charlotte Whittle)  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
“I only believed in hopeless lives,” states the seventeen-year-old narrator in Norah Lange’s beautifully written and disconcerting novel, first published in Argentina in 1950 and now, at last, translated exquisitely into English by Charlotte Whittle. Introverted and pathologically understimulated, the narrator becomes obsessed with three young women she can see, indistinctly, each evening, sitting in the drawing room of the house facing that of her family’s. Imagination cannot help but fill in the voids in knowledge, and, in this case, as the narrator has no knowledge at all of the three women, if they indeed exist, her imagination cannot rest in applying to them every possible permutation of the sorts of stories the narrator thinks may apply to them, stories principally, it seems, drawn from her reading of Romantic novels (apparently, Lange was prompted to write this book by Branwell Brontë’s painting of his sisters Charlotte, Anne and Emily (a painting from which Branwell had erased the image of himself)). At times the narrator achieves a vividness that thrills or horrifies her: “It rained so close to their faces, and on mine, on the carriage, on the patient horse, and it seemed as long as I was still young nothing so complete or perfect could ever happen again.” The three women in the room are no more animated than dolls upon which the young narrator projects her fears and desires. Their features and characters and histories slowly accrete through speculation, but the details are impermanent, attaching and detaching from their objects with equal ease. It is as if the narrator is obsessively inflating them into three dimensions, whereas it is natural for them to revert to two dimensions, into silhouettes. In this way, the novel is about the way in which the novel is written, the way in which all novels are written. “It was as if I was slowly composing a silent film that might go on forever: a film without action or scenery.” The three women suck up, take possession of, transmit, both embody and nullify, all tragedies and stories that exist in the narrator’s mind. We are told that the narrator sees them at the post office, sending a telegram, that she observes a visit to their house by a man who touches off some rivalry of feelings between them, and that the narrator thereafter visits the three women in their drawing room almost every evening, but we cannot be any more certain that any of this *actually* happens than we can of the recurring motifs of the dead horse in the street or the fire that claimed three infants’ lives. To spy, to observe, is to be disempowered, to be outside. The spy, the voyeur, has no identity but the object of their obsession, but the object of any obsession is always primarily indicative of suppressed impulses in the one who is obsessed. When the narrator states of the three women that “I know that they alone had the right to speak of death, of ill-timed affairs, of suicides, of bitter loneliness,” she is projecting upon them, among other things, her own suicidal impulses. The three women could be seen as future versions, ten or fifteen years older, of the narrator herself, future versions she both yearns for and wishes dead with desperate ambivalence. Several times she notes a similarity of voice or demeanour between her and them: “My face, which must express - it was impossible that it shouldn’t express - their three faces behind my own, expressionless.” “I only believed in hopeless lives.” At what point would tragedy or suicide relieve her from her future? Are the three women the future selves she will never become, unachieved futures, or are they each future possible exit points from an unfulfilling life? “That is what you get for not dying,” she tells them. She senses the fragility and unsustainability of her obsessive ‘watching’, of being “alone with my gaze”. What is achieved immediately starts to slip away: “Everything changed, it was my fault, and anything could come between them and my watching them, and destroy what had begun, what had scarcely begun.” Lange keeps the melancholy and the tension perfectly balanced as the book charts the disintegration of the narrator’s (and the reader’s) ability to distinguish internal and external realities as the novel moves towards its jaw-dropping paragraph-length final exquisite sentence. 

Friday, 11 January 2019

New books for a new year
Fox 8 by George Saunders, illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal         $25
A darkly comic fable from the 2017 Man Booker winner. Fox 8 has learned 'Yuman' by listening under the windows of children's rooms to their bedtime stories. In language falling somewhere between that of The BFG and Riddley Walker, Fox 8 tells of his quest to save his fellow foxes when their habitat is threatened by development. Charming.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez        $45
When a friend dies, a woman inherits his Great Dane. As she gets to know this dog, so large, so inconvenient, so representative of her grief, she comes to understand the dog's grief, too, and their lives begin to change in subtle ways.
 "Nunez's prose itself comforts us. Her confident and direct style uplifts--the music in her sentences, her deep and varied intelligence." - The New York Times 
2018 (US) National Book Award winner.
Hokusai Manga by Hokusai Katsushika        $55
In 1814, Hokusai's sketches were published in a handbook of some 4000 images. It surpassed expectations as a student reference book, and became a bestseller. Here, in a three-volume package, an expansive selection of these works is revealed, presenting all of the themes, motifs and drawing techniques found in Hokusai's art. The caricatures, satirical drawings, multi-panel illustrations and narrative depictions found in the book can clearly be seen as the basis for manga as it is understood today. 
In the City of Love's Sleep by Lavinia Greenlaw        $37
Structured to impede the progress of the middle-aged love affair that it describes, this novel charts the steps two people take towards each other and asks what it means if the two people have taken those steps before. 

The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin play chess by Andrei Codrescu           $38
"This is a guide for instructing posthumans in living a Dada life. It is not advisable, nor was it ever, to lead a Dada life." Codrescu uses an imagined chess game in 1916 between Tristan Tzara and V.I. Lenin to discuss the sometimes-shared and sometimes-opposed approaches of the the arts and politics to assail the status quo and enact a new way of being. 
"No other book has treated the relationship between the artistic and revolutionary avant-gardes as originally and provocatively as Codrescu's. This is both an immensely illuminating essay of intellectual history and a disturbing meditation on absolute ideals turned into alibis for tyranny." - Vladimir Tismaneanu
"Highly original, beautifully written, and charming." - Marjory Perloff
The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen      $23
A lovesick kraken slowly drags the object of its desire - a ship of sailors - into the sea; a group of cantankerous saints materialise in a well-appointed parlour, and must unravel the mystery of how they got there; ageing fathers are sunk to the bottom of the ocean in pressure-sealed crates in a time-honoured ritual. Andreasen romps through the lunatic and surreal with a tender generous ease; there is a joyous absurdity to each premise. Just because a sister is born without a head doesn't mean her brother won't love and protect her; just because an adulterous tryst ends in alien abduction doesn't mean the man doesn't miss his wife.

Can Art Aid in Resolving Conflicts? 100 perspectives edited by Noam Lemelshtrich Latar, Jerry Wind and Ornat Lev-er       $60
For centuries, art has documented the atrocities of wars, participated in propaganda campaigns, and served as an advocate for peace and social justice around the world. How can art assist in creating dialogue and bridges across cultures? 100 leading and emerging architects, artists, curators, choreographers, composers, and directors of art institutions around the globe explore the potentially constructive role of the arts in resolving conflicts or building bridges among opposing groups. Interesting, and beautifully presented. 
Hiking with Nietzsche by John Kaag      $37
A tale of two philosophical journeys: one made by John Kaag as an introspective young man of nineteen; the other seventeen years later, in radically different circumstances: he is now a husband and father, and his wife and small child are in tow. Kaag sets off for the Swiss peaks above Sils Maria where Nietzsche wrote his landmark work Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Both of Kaag's journeys are made in search of the wisdom at the core of Nietzsche's philosophy, yet they deliver him to radically different interpretations and, more crucially, revelations about the human condition.

Atlas of the Unexpected: Haphazard discoveries, chance places and unimaginable destinations by Travis Elborough        $45
Unanticipated reading pleasures (with great maps). 

The 8 Brokens with text by Nancy Berliner    $85

A fascinating exploration of Chinese bapo paintings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in which messages, often politically or socially critical, were encoded in seemingly realistic depictions of historical documents and fragments. 
Peterloo: The story of the Manchester Massacre by Jacqueline Riding       $65
A gripping and perceptive account of the 1819 St Peter’s Field massacre, in which an assembly of 60000 campaigners for parliamentary and suffrage reform were charged by the 15th regiment of hussars and the Manchester and Salford and Cheshire yeomanries, leaving fifteen dead and 650 injured, is a reminder of the role of class conflict in political change.
"Quite simply magnificent: splendidly researched, thoroughly well written, and very difficult to put down." - The Guardian
>> Of course, Mike Leigh made a film of it
The Modern Italian Cook by Joe Trivelli       $60
Quietly unassuming and full of subtle ways in which a few simple ingredients can be transformed into classic Italian dishes (and some of his own creation). One of The Guardian's 'Best Food Books of 2018'. 

Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in art, architecture and film by Giuliana Bruno          $65
How is our understanding or art, film and architecture predicated on the experience of the body? What is the connection between sight and site? Between motion and emotion? A fascinating history of the spacio-visual arts. 
"One of those critical works packed with learning and insights that at the same time takes you on an exhilarating ride through its author's imagination." - Marina Warner, Guardian

Sight by Jessie Greengrass        $25
The narrator recounts her progress to motherhood, while remembering the death of her own mother ten years before, and the childhood summers she spent with her psychoanalyst grandmother. Woven among these personal recollections are significant events in medical history: Wilhelm Rontgen's discovery of the X-ray; Sigmund Freud's development of psychoanalysis and the work that he did with his daughter, Anna; and the origins of modern surgery and the anatomy of pregnant bodies. Sight is a novel about being a parent and a child: what it is like to bring a person in to the world, and what it is to let one go.

"Unusual and absorbing. The novel as a whole exudes a strange consoling power." - The New Yorker
Francesca's Italian Kitchen: Delicious Italian recipes made in New Zealand by Francesca Voza        $50
Restaurants in Wanaka, Dunedin, Christchurch and Timaru. 
Playing for Time: Making art as if the world mattered by Lucy Neal        $48
Identifies collaborative arts practices emerging in response to planetary challenges including energy and financial crises, climate change, and hunger.
How to Eat a Peach: Menus, stories and places by Diana Henry       $45
A beautifully presented menu notebook, evoking the ways in which mood and place can be reflected in cuisine. 
"This is an extraordinary piece of food writing, pitch perfect in every way." - Nigella Lawson
Secrets of the Studio: From Monet to Ai Weiwei by Damien Elwes       $28
Visit the studios of Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, Paul Gauguin, Keith Haring, and many other artists. Find the magnifying glass that got left behind on Claude Monet's desk. Spot the owls in Pablo Picasso's paintings. Play with Andy Warhol's flowers. Find the apples in Paul Cézanne's studio. Colour in Jeff Koons's Balloon Dog. Identify the silhouette of a sculpture by Brancusi. An enjoyable introduction to a range of interesting artists, ideal for 6-to-12-year-olds. 
The Neighbours by Einat Tsarfati      $30
As a girl climbs the stairs top her apartment she imagines who might live behind each of the other doors in the building - and what an imagination she has!
>> Book trailer (in Dutch).
Hollow City: The siege of San Fancisco and the crisis of American urbanism by Rebecca Solnit and Susan Schwartzenberg      $25

Wealth is just as capable of ravaging cities as is poverty. 
The Levellers: The Putney Debates edited by Geoffrey Robinson       $25
The first articulation of democracy in Britain was made in 1747 in a series of debates between the Levellers and Oliver Cromwell. Human rights Lawyer Geoffrey Robinson shows the importance of this argument to political situations today. 

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney         $33
In this classic work, Rodney argues that grasping "the great divergence" between the west and the rest can only be explained as the exploitation of the latter by the former. This analysis of the abiding repercussions of European colonialism on the continent of Africa remains an indispensable study for grasping global inequality today. Introduction by Angela Davis.
"Exterminate All the Brutes" by Sven Lindqvist        $25
Lindqvist set out across Central Africa, obsessed with a single line from Conrad's Heart of Darkness - Kurtz's injunction to "Exterminate all the brutes". His account of his experiences moves in parallel with a historical investigation, revealing what Europe's imperial powers had exacted on Africa's people over the course of the preceding two centuries. A new edition of this classic, jaw-dropping work. 
Gentleman Jack: A biography of Anne Lister, Regency landowner, seducer and secret diarist by Angela Steidele         $40
Anne Lister was a Yorkshire heiress, a traveller and a lesbian during a time when it was difficult simply to be female. She chose to remain unmarried, dressed all in black and spoke openly of her lack of interest in men. The first woman to climb Vignemale in the treacherous Pyrenees, she journeyed as far as Azerbaijan and slept with a pistol under her pillow. She also kept a diary, written in a code that has now been cracked. 
City of Oranges: An intimate history of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa by Adam Lebor          $25
Once the centre of Palestinian modernity, Jaffa was the country's cultural and political capital. There Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived, worked, and celebrated together. Even after 1948, Jews and Arabs gathered at the Jewish-owned spice shop Tiv and the Arab Abulafia family's twenty-four-hour bakery. Through intimate personal interviews and memoirs, letters, and diaries, LeBor gives  a crucial insight into the human lives behind the apparently intractable story of national conflict and a vivid narrative of cataclysmic change. LeBor weaves the personal stories of six families, three Jewish and three Arab, into a rich and complex history of Israel and Palestine in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Night Train: New and selected stories by Thom Jones          $33
"Bleakly and outrageously comic. Reading Thom Jones's fiction is like speeding in an open car: the landscape blurs, the momentum becomes intoxicating - and then the brakes are applied, with no warning." - Joyce Carol Oates
"Jones was a master of the short story. Night Train will be an amazing discovery for anyone who cares about literature." - Philipp Meyer
Caesar's Footprints: Journeys in Roman Gaul by Bijan Omrani        $23
Omrani follows the routes of the invading Romans and tells the story of the Gallic Wars and how the Celtic culture was first destroyed and then transformed by the invaders. 

Democracy Hacked: Political turmoil and information warfare in the digital age by Martin Moore       $30
Authoritarian governments, elite populists, and 'freextremists' are exploiting our digital information infrastructure and the vulnerabilities in the democratic system to distort and undermine politics and elections.

 The Flame by Leonard Cohen          $45
A posthumous collection of poems, excerpts from his notebooks, lyrics, hand-drawn self-portraits.
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