Friday 28 April 2017

Books either anticipated or surprising - just out of the carton.

Upright Beasts by Lincoln Michel          $34
Humans are the upright beasts in these stories, doing battle with our darker, weirder impulses as the world collapses around us. 
"Lincoln Michel is one of contemporary literary culture's greatest natural resources." - Vice
"Mighty surrealist wonders, mordantly funny and fiercely intelligent." - Lauren van den Berg
Calamities by Renee Gladman          $30
"I began the day.." begins each of these short, beautifully textured linked essays exploring Gladman's obsession with conceptual borderlines and the crossing of these. Using exquisite sentences, Gladman takes the most quotidian of tasks or events and uses them as stepping stools to get her head above the clouds. 
I am looking forward to reading this. -Thomas. 
>> A sample
>> Gladman reads something aloud.
Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami         $23
A woman travels through an unending night with a porcelain girlfriend, a sister mourns her invisible brother, snakes inveigle themselves into people's personal lives. Three haunting, lyrical stories from the author of Strange Weather in Tokyo and The Nakano Gift Shop
One Hundred Twenty-One Days by Michèle Audin     $30
A literary mixtape of different styles and effects, Audin's novel focuses on the relationship of two mathematicians through two world wars. The constraints she applies to her text help us to think deeply about the nature of literature and the nature of war. Audin is a French mathematician and a member of OULIPO
"Polymorphous and fluid, the book considers how our lives find their shape, and which details are amenable to history's telling." - Scott Esposito, Times Literary Supplement 
"This is an unconventional novel that has many layers and makes you think about love, history, war, racism, rebellion, caring, and many other things but most of all about telling a story. Highly recommended." - European Mathematical Society 
The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes        $35
A reimagining of the Ancient Greek Oedipus and Antigone stories, told from the viewpoints of female characters usually overlooked in other tellings. The book also entails a rethinking of mythic and psychoanalytic tropes. Haynes combines her depth of knowledge as a classicist with her timing as a stand-up comic to good effect in this novel. 
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout      $35
"It's hard to believe that a year after the astonishing My Name Is Lucy Barton Elizabeth Strout could bring us another book that is by every measure its equal, but what Strout proves to us again and again is that where she's concerned, anything is possible. This book, this writer, are magnificent." - Ann Patchett
"The epic scope within seemingly modest confines recalls Strout's Pulitzer Prize winner, Olive Kitteridge, and her ability to discern vulnerabilities buried beneath bad behavior is as acute as ever. Another powerful examination of painfully human ambiguities and ambivalences-this gifted writer just keeps getting better." - Kirkus 
 Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals  by Patricia Lockwood       $26
"With its extended figures, its theme-and-variations structures, its spirals and twists away from (and sometimes back toward) ordinary speech, Lockwood's new book rewards rereading. She has written a book at once angrier, and more fun, more attuned to our time and more bizarre, than most poetry can ever get, a book easy to recommend for people who do read new poetry often - as well as for almost all the people who do." - Stephen Burt, New York Times
Raptor: A journey through birds by James Macdonald Lockhart       $30
Lockhart examines all fifteen species of birds of prey who breed in Britain - each in a different location. 
"Lockhart's prose is so intimate, urgent, and visceral as to make his darkly resonant ruminations almost unfailingly gripping." - Independent
>> The author reads am extract, a little nervously
I Must Be Living Twice: New and selected poems by Eileen Myles        $37
"A new generation of public feminists, including Beth Ditto, Lena Dunham and Tavi Gevinson, cite her as an inspiration, finding in her writing a ribald and ponderous succession to the New York School." - New York Times 
"She and her work are unsettled in the best sense: restless, disturbing, changeable. She is exemplary for more and more young writers precisely because she has gone her own way." - Ben Lerner 
"One of the richest and most conflicted human hearts you're likely to find." -New York Review of Books
>> She reads.
The Peregrine by J.A. Baker (50th anniversary edition, with an introduction by Robert Macfarlane)         $30
"Passionately fierce but also wonderfully tender." - Andrew Motion 
"An inspiring example to future writers, and a gift to lovers of nature." - The Times Literary Supplement 
"A literary masterpiece, one of the 20th century's outstanding examples of nature writing." - Independent
The Suicide Club by Sarah Quigley         $38
Three brilliant misfits, thrown together by chance and a will to self-destruction, travel together to Bavaria, where, in an experimental institution, their relationships and their fragile selves come under increased pressure. Another intense examination of humanity by the New Zealand author of The Conductor
Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic        $37
Fact and fiction, observation and representation start to blur when a young woman moves from England to New York and becomes fixated on a Japanese writer whose life has strange parallels to her own. 
"The best fictional account I have read of the way the internet has shaped our inner lives." - Observer
"A mind-bending novel that skilfully depicts the bizarre interplay of technology and intimacy with a story that is compassionate, funny, and incredibly alarming." - Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond

The Pleasures of Leisure by Robert Dessaix        $37
Dessaix is always lively and charming, so we might actually find his advice amenable as we try to relax and get on with the things we like to do.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan         $28
A successful writer befriends a woman who, little by little, begins to assume her appearance, identity and function. Insidious. 
"If Simone de Beauvoir had written Single White Female with nods to Marguerite Duras, the result might be something like this latest Gallic grip-lit sensation." - Guardian

"All writing is constructed on shifting sands, but I’ve never read a book that makes the complex relationship between reality and fiction both as visible, and at the same time so opaque, as here. I was captivated. Combining the allure of Gone Girl with the sophistication of literary fiction, Based on a True Story is a creepy but unapologetically clever psychological thriller that also aces the Bechdel test (at least two women in a work of fiction, talking to each other about something other than a man)." - Independent
The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerey       $37
Following the Baileys Prize-winning The Glorious HeresiesMcInerey traces her young protagonist's entry into the criminal underworld of Cork City, in 'the arse-end of Ireland'.
"This is as much a love letter to a cruel but curiously buzzing place as a lament. The great strength of this book is its amorality. If you can survive in this world, and learn to live without always watching over your shoulder for danger, it’s not a bad place to be." - Guardian
London: The cookbook by Cara Frost-Sharratt
From haute cuisine to greasy spoons - what makes the London food scene so vibrant? This book is an eatery crawl, with signature recipes.
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell         $23
Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage's duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path.
The Wealth of Humans: Work and its absence in the twenty-first century by Ryan Avent          $30
The structure and meaning of work is changing rapidly, not only through the pressures of automation and dwindling resources, but for reasons that make modern political, practical and ethical contradictions difficult to resolve. Avent offers us an analysis and some idea of a path.
"Ryan Avent is a superb writer. Highly readable and lively." - Thomas Piketty
The Art of Flight by Sergio Pitol        $33
"Writing meant the possibility of embarking towards an elusive goal and fusing the outside world and that subterranean one that inhabits us." A multigenre literary memoir combining fiction and memory to profound effect. The first work by this Mexican luminary to be translated into English.
"Reading him, one has the impression of being before the greatest Spanish-language writer of our time." - Enrique Vila-Matas
Admissions: A life in brain surgery by Henry Marsh         $38
Why does a person to spend a lifetime handling other people's brains? No other part of the body is more integral to what makes us human and what makes life worthwhile. A thoughtful memoir from the author of Do No Harm
>> "Agonisingly human."
Built on Bones: 15000 years of urban life and death by Brenna Hassett       $33
When humans started living together in settled groups, they started living on top of where humans had lived before, on top of their figurative ad literal dead. How has this impacted upon our culture and our health? The author, a forensic archaeologist, is perfectly placed to guide us through the less pleasant consequences of urban living.
Gone: A girl, a violin, a life unstrung by Min Kym       $40
At 7 years old Min Kym was a prodigy, the youngest ever pupil at the Purcell School of Music. At 11 she won her first international prize. She worked with many violins, waiting for the day she would play 'the one'. At 21 she found it: a rare 1696 Stradivarius, perfectly suited to her build and temperament. Her career soared. She recorded the Brahms concerto and a world tour was planned. Then, in a train station cafe, her violin was stolen at a train station. In an instant her world collapsed.
>> They play
>> What happened when the violin was recovered? 
Refuge: Transforming the broken refugee system by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier       $55
How can the world provide acceptable solutions to the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. 

"Betts and Collier offer innovative insights into how to more effectively meet this challenge, with an important new focus on international solidarity and refugee empowerment." - Kofi Annan

Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli's lifelong quest for freedom by Erica Benner        $55
Argues that Machiavelli was not so Machiavellian after all. 
Saffron Soul: Healthy vegetarian heritage recipes from India by Mira Manek     $45
Approachable yet inspiring, and full of excellent food. 
>> Summer Salad could be made in an Indian summer

The Empire of Things: How we became consumers of things, from the fifteenth century to the twenty-first by Frank Trentmann         $38

How was the mechanism of modern society built, why and for whose benefit?

Pallets 3.0: Remodeled, reused, recycled: Architecture and design by Chris van Uffelen         $70
If not used for shipping they are anything but boring. Pallets are a universal symbol of the globalized world. The properties of this transport platform - standardization, stability, simplicity and internationality - are carried over into the work of architects and designers who use pallets as the material for their own creations.
>> Fast work.

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