Friday 23 June 2017

These interesting books (and other interesting books) have all arrived at VOLUME this week.
Click through or come in to secure your copies or to find out more. 

Investigations of a Dog, And other creatures by Franz Kafka, translated by Michael Hofmann      $38
An excellent new translation of some of Kafka's best stories. 
"Hofmann's translation is invaluable - it achieves what translations are supposedly unable to do: it is at once 'loyal' and 'beautiful'." - New Republic
"Anything by Kafka is worth reading again, especially in the hands of such a gifted translator as Hofmann." - The New York Times 
>> Kafka never left home.

Essayism by Brian Dillon        $40
Imagine a type of writing so hard to define its very name means a trial, effort or attempt. An ancient form with an eye on the future, a genre poised between tradition and experiment. The essay wants above all to wander, but also to arrive at symmetry and wholeness; it nurses competing urges to integrity and disarray, perfection and fragmentation, confession and invention. Essayism is a personal, critical and polemical book about the genre, its history and contemporary possibilities.

Kingdom Cons by Yuri Harrera         $26
The new book from the author of the astounding Signs Preceding the End of the World. "Part surreal fable and part crime romance", the whole book is a meditation on the durability of integrity when confronted with power. 
"Yuri Herrera must be a thousand years old. Nothing else explains the vastness of his understanding." - Valeria Luiselli
>> Read an extract

The Matter of the Heart: A history of the heart in eleven operations by Thomas Morris            $40
“Thomas Morris does for the history of cardiac surgery what The Right Stuff and Hidden Figures did for the space race. The book is – appropriately – pulse-thumpingly gripping and will be enjoyed by anyone who, in any sense of the phrase, has a heart.” – Mark Lawson
“Tremendous. An exhilarating sweep through ancient history and contemporary practice in surgery of the heart. It’s rich in extraordinary detail and stories that will amaze you. A wonderful book.” – Melvyn Bragg

The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane        $9
An essay on the importance and the joys of reading. Macfarlane recounts the story of a book he was given as a young man, and how he managed eventually to return the favour, though never repay the debt.
When I Hit You, Or, A portrait of the writer as a young wife by Meena Kandasamy          $28
Seduced by politics, poetry and an enduring dream of building a better world together, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor. She swiftly learns that what for her is a bond of love is for him a contract of ownership. A searing indictment of attitudes to marriage in modern India, and an avocation of the power of art to transact change (or at least revenge). 
"It would take Carol Ann Duffy, Caroline Criado-Perez, Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie to match Kandasamy's infinite variety." - Independent 
Seeing People Off by Jana Benova     $38
 "Elza and Ian were Bratislava desperadoes. They didn't work for an advertising agency and weren't trying to save for a better apartment or car. They sat around in posh cafés. They ate, drank, and smoked away all the money they earned."
"Seeing People Off is a fascinating novel. Fans of inward-looking postmodernists like Clarice Lispector will find much to admire here, as will most readers with a taste for the experimental." - NPR
>> Read an extract.

Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the present day by Peter Ackroyd           $38
“This book is a celebration,as well as a history, of the continual and various human world maintained, in its diversity despite persecution, condemnation and affliction. It represents the ultimate triumph of London.”
"Peter Ackroyd is the greatest living chronicler of London". - Independent
The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips          $23
As she becomes accustomed to her new job processing files in a mysterious windowless building, Josephine begins to suspect these strings of number have some relationship to the lives (or deaths) of actual people, and notices also that her relationship with her husband is beginning to change. Unsettling and memorable. 
 "Funny, sad, scary and beautiful. I love it." - Ursula K. Le Guin 
The Whole Intimate Mess: Motherhood, politics and women's writing by Holly Walker         $15
"I began to pull the threads of my experience back together. Instead of divergent stories about public failure, private torment, and postnatal distress, I started telling myself a united story: the truth, or as close as I could get to it." A Rhodes scholar and former Green MP, Holly Walker tells the story of how she became one of New Zealand's youngest parliamentarians, how motherhood intervened, and how she found solace and solidarity in the writings of women. 

The Wood for the Trees: A long view of nature from a small wood by Richard Fortey      $25
This biography of an English 'beech-and-bluebell' wood through the seasons and through history both natural and human, is a portrayal of the relationships of humans to nature and a demonstration that poetic writing can be scientifically precise. 
"'His remarkable scientific knowledge, intense curiosity and love of nature mean entries erupt with the same richness and variety as the woods they describe. Fortey's enthusiasm for his new wonderland is infectious and illuminating, deep and interesting." - Guardian 
Cutting it Short by Bohumil Hrabal           $26
"As I crammed the cream horn voraciously into my mouth, at once I heard Francin's voice saying that no decent woman would eat a cream puff like that." An enjoyably exuberant portrayal of life in a small Mitteleuropean town between the wars.
More Alive and Less Lonely: On books and writers by Jonathan Lethem          $50
Lethem examines and imparts his love for his favourite books and authors, including Knausgaard, Ishiguro, Melville and Lorrie Moore.  >> Interview with Lethem here.
Jews, Queers, Germans by Martin Duberman       $37
Set in a time when many men in the upper classes in Europe were closeted gay, this novel revolves around three men: Prince Philipp von Eulenburg, Kaiser Wilhelm II's closest friend who becomes the subject of a 1907 trial for homosexuality; Magnus Hirschfeld, a famed Jewish sexologist; and Harry Kessler, a leading proponent of modernism, whose diaries allude to his own homosexuality. 
Science in the Soul: Selected writings of a passionate rationalist by Richard Dawkins      $38
More than forty pieces demonstrating the importance and rewards of approaching the world guided by the principles of science. 

Chronicles: On our troubled times by Thomas Piketty          $28
A very accessible handbook to the ideas and analysis provided in the hugely influential Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Moving the Palace by Charif Majdalani          $37
At the dawn of the 20th century, a young Lebanese explorer leaves the Levant for the wilds of Africa, encountering an eccentric English colonel in Sudan and enlisting in his service. In this lush chronicle of far-flung adventure, the military recruit crosses paths with a compatriot who has dismantled a sumptuous palace in Tripoli and is transporting it across the continent on a camel caravan. 
"Renders the complex social landscape of the Middle East and North Africa with subtlety and finesse. Yet one doesn't need to care about the region's history, or its present-day contexts, to enjoy Moving the Palace,  Majdalani's richly textured prose are reason enough." - The Wall Street Journal
"An eloquent, captivating excursion through a Middle East history that is more relevant today than ever. Majdalani is a major storyteller and a novelist with conscience who writes the past with transnational awareness." - Rawi Hage
Finding Language: The Massey University Composer Addresses edited by Michael Brown, Norman Meehan and Robert Hoskins         $40
Includes Margaret Nielsen on Douglas Lilburn, and lectures by Jack Body, John Ritchie, David Farquhar, Edwin Carr, John Rimmer, Lyell Cresswell, John Cousins and Chris Cree Brown. 
Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst by Robert Sapolsky           $40
What drives human behaviours such as racism, xenophobia, tolerance, competition, morality, war, and even peace?

Sound: Stories of hearing lost and found by Bella Bathurst        $40
A thoughtful consideration of the place of sound and hearing in our lives and culture and identities, springing from the author's progressive deafness and the recovery of her capacities.

The things we know that we don't know is a quantifiable penumbra around what we know. Science is always reaching our into this penumbra, but also often inadvertently reaching the things we didn't know that there was to know, causing us to rethink the things we thought we knew.

"Brilliant and fascinating." - Bill Bryson 
Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle        $35
When 13-year-old Warren discovers that his beloved hotel can walk, it ferries its guests to all sorts of unexpected locations. Unfortunately, Warren gets separated from the hotel and has to follow it through a sinister forest teeming with sinister (and quirky) characters...
A fascinating picture of how one family's disgust at Mussolini's grasp on Italy hardened into active resistance. From the author of The Village of Secrets and A Train in Winter.

The ancient legends of tribes of female warriors who killed their male offspring and removed a breast to improve their archery have long been considered just stories: exemplars of the dangers of female emancipation or avenging shadows of the rise of the patriarchy. Recent research has shown that tribes led by powerful warrior queens did exist in central Asia in ancient times. John Man presents the evidence.
"One could not wish for a better storyteller or analyst." Simon Sebag Montefiore
The Allure of Chanel by Paul Morand        $23
Notes made by Morand in the 1940s towards a memoir of Coco Chanel, including transcripts of conversations he had with her, came to light after decades stuffed into the back of a drawer.  

"The closest anyone can get towards a face-to-face with Coco." - Spectator
The age of the rock stars, like the age of the cowboys, has passed. What did we want of them? Unable to sustain the pressure to be (at least) demigods, is it any wonder that so many of them burned and fell? 

The Big Book of Bugs and The Big Book of Beasts by Yuval Zommer     
Giant, splendidly illustrated, satisfyingly fact-filled books in the same series as The Book of Bees!

Argues that addiction is a learning disorder rather than a brain disease, a bad habit or a crime. Reframing the condition provides a fresh approach to treatment, prevention and policy.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire        $24
Argues that treating students as passive, empty vessels preserves the authority and advantages of the powerful by creating a culture of silence and passivity. Freire suggests the authoritarian teacher-pupil model can be replaced with critical thinking so that students becomes co-creators of knowledge. Crucial to Freire's argument is the belief that every human being, no matter how impoverished or illiterate, can develop an awareness of self, and the right to be heard. A new edition of this important book.
"A transformative text." - George Monbiot 
"Truly revolutionary." - Ivan Illich 
"Brilliant methodology of a highly charged and politically provocative character." - Jonathan Kozol
Judas by Amos Oz         $26
A young man's erotic and intellectual obsessions open the way for him to re-examine the history in the consequences of which he is immersed.
"This book is compassionate as well as painfully provocative, a contribution to some sort of deeper listening to the dissonances emerging from deep within the politics and theology of Israel and Palestine." - Rowan Williams, New Statesman
"Oz engages with urgent questions while retaining his right as a novelist to fight shy of answers: it's a mark of his achievement that the result isn't frustrating but tantalising." - Daily Telegraph
Theft by Finding: Diaries by David Sedaris          $40
"Sedaris is like an American Alan Bennett, in that his own fastidiousness becomes the joke, as per the taxi encounter, or his diary entry about waiting interminably in a coffee-bar queue." - Guardian 
"Cool, very funny, sardonic, yet open. There is an echo of Truman Capote or Tennessee Williams - with extra quirk. Or even Lewis Carroll. One of the biggest comedy writers of his generation." - Spectator
Incisive analysis of the detrimental effects of income inequality on a society and all it members, both rich and poor. 
Karl Marx: Greatness and illusion by Gareth Stedman Jones      $40
A reappraisal of Marx, contending the man and his thinking have been overwhelmed by the inflation of the reputations of both. Stedman Jones's carefully deflationary approach is also a portrait of his own conflicted attitudes towards the genesis and development of Socialism. 
"A deeply original and illuminating account of Marx's journey through the intellectual history of the nineteenth century. Stedman Jones explores the friendships, affinities, rivalries and hatreds that shaped Marx's life with elegance and analytical brilliance." - Christopher Clark
'Vintage Minis' by various excellent authors       $10 each
A new series of very pickupable thoughtful small books to have with coffee (or whatever). The publishers have devised a quiz to match you with your first mini but we think reaching out at random will provide just as reliable results.

Desire by Haruki Murakami
Love by Jeanette Winterson
Babies by Anne Enright
Language by Xiaolu Guo
Motherhood by Helen Simpson
Fatherhood by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Summer by Laurie Lee
Jealousy by Marcel Proust
Sisters by Louisa May Alcott
Home by Salman Rushdie
Race by Toni Morrison
Liberty by Virginia Woolf
Swimming by Roger Deakin
Work by Joseph Heller
Depression by William Styron
Drinking by John Cheever
Eating by Nigella Lawson
Psychedelics by Aldous Huxley
Calm by Tim Parks
Death by Julian Barnes
[Does the order in which these titles have been listed suggest life's narrative arc?]

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