Thursday 10 August 2017

(A selection)
Night Horse by Elizabeth Smither       $25
"W. H. Auden once defined poetry as 'a game of knowledge, a bringing to consciousness, by naming them, of emotions and their hidden relationships'. This definition suits Smither's poetry, too, with its sophistication, its wit and humour, its playfulness, its candour, its tenderness, its exploration through simile and metaphor of the unexpected relations between things." - Peter Simpson
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd, illustrated by Levi Pinfold        $23
December 1941. Britain is at war. Emmaline has been evacuated away from the bombs to Briar Hill Hospital in Shropshire. When she gets there she discovers a secret. It's not to be shared, not to be told to anyone, even her friend Anna. There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill. 

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin        $23
A young woman lies dying in hospital. The boy at her bedside asks some questions which unleash the most terrifying of stories.
"Terrifying but brilliant, this dangerously addictive novel in which a woman’s life speeds towards doom is haunted by the bleak landscape of rural Argentina. Schweblin remorselessly cranks up the tension until every sentence seems to tremble with threat. Fever Dream’s ambiguities, and the intricate psychologies with which Schweblin invests her characters, mean that rereading proves rewarding even when the suspense is removed. Wherever you decide the truth lies, aspects of Amanda’s story will continue to puzzle and haunt you long after she stops being able to tell it." - Guardian

The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse by Ivan Repila       $23
“It looks impossible to get out,” he says. And also: “But we’ll get out.” This is a compellingly unpleasant little book. Two brothers, Big and Small, are trapped down a well in the forest. Calling, climbing and leaping are to no avail. As the days pass (the chapters are numbered with a sequence of prime numbers), we witness the brothers’ desperation, their physical and mental decline, their diet of worms and maggots (they will not touch the bag of food belonging to their mother), their suffering from both thirst and flooding, the cruelty and tenderness that constitute their deformed relationship. “Life is wonderful, but living is unbearable.” There are no horses in this book, and no reference to Attila beyond the title. 
Farewell to the Horse: The final century of our relationship by Ulrich Raulff          $65
"Any reader interested in horses, history, art, literature or language will love this book, and be stunned by its scope and stylish intellect. This is about the end of a relationship between man and horse that Raulff likens to the dissolution of an idiosyncratic workers’ union, and what is thrilling is that the horse becomes a subtext – a new way of considering history via the stable door. The book is beautifully and idiosyncratically illustrated, in keeping with the text." - Guardian

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo       $18
One horse witnesses the brutality of the First World War from both sides of the trenches.
The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan         $35
"This novel is about horse racing the way Moby-Dick is about a whale; it has a similarly expansive scope, spiritual seriousness and density of grand themes. Morgan’s epic work builds to a climactic series of dramatic race scenes featuring a star filly named Hellsmouth. Along the way, Morgan wrestles with subjects including the history of Kentucky, slavery and its legacies, the iniquities of American healthcare, Darwinism, geology and relations between the sexes." - Guardian

The Fire Horse: Children's poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky, Osip Mendelstam and Daniil Kharms, illustrated by Lidia Popova, Boris Ender and Vladimir Konashevich       $37
Three classic Soviet-era children's books by leading avant-garde writers and illustrators, newly translated. 

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy         $25
John Grady Cole is the last bewildered survivor of long generations of Texas ranchers. Finding himself cut off from the only life he has ever wanted, he sets out for Mexico with his friend Lacey Rawlins. Befriending a third boy on the way, they find a country beyond their imagining: barren and beautiful, rugged yet cruelly civilized; a place where dreams are paid for in blood.
"A darkly shining work executed with consummate skill and much subtlety - the effect is magnificent.: - John Banville, "Observer"

Orange Horses by Maeve Kelly         $38
Short stories from women's perspectives set around the 1917 Easter Rising against British rule in Northern Ireland and depicting the misogyny and violence rife in society at the time. 

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman         $28
This taut depiction of a stand-up comedian falling apart on stage in front of an audience wanting entertainment won Grossman the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. Why are we so transfixed by tragedy, our own and others'? In reading literature, are we like Dovaleh's audience, seeking entertainment from the miseries of others? 
"Unrelentingly claustrophobic. The violence that A Horse Walks into a Barexplores is private and intimate. Its central interest is not the vicious treatment of vulnerable others but the cruelty that wells up within families, circulates like a poison in tight-knit groups, and finally turns inward against the self. Searing and poignant." - New York Review of Books 

The Mare by Mary Gaitskill      $23
A childless couple, a troubled inner-city kid and a volatile horse are the ingredients in a complex story of love, guilt and attachment.
"Gaitskill's work feels more real than real life." - Boston Globe
The Age of the Horse: An equine journey through human history by Susanna Forrest         $45
A hunk of meat, an industrial and agricultural machine, a luxury good, a cherished dancer, a comrade in arms, a symbol of a mythical past: the horse has meant many things to humans, most of them revelatory more of human mores than of anything about horses themselves. An interesting examination of the role played by horses in the endless spasm of human history. 
Thought Horses by Rachel Bush      $25
Rachel Bush's poetry is remarkable for the amount of meaning, feeling and wry humour it pivots on the ordinary details of life, and by the verbal lightness of touch brought to even the heaviest of subjects. This, her last collection, contains some of her very best work. It shows the breadth of her poetic range and the quiet skill with which she assembled and polished her language, from the conversational asides to the deep fugual patterns which tie meaning to the particular and the ordinary.  

Fullblood Arabian by Osama Alomar       $28Exquisite, by turns disconcerting, funny and revelatory, these very short short stories from a Syrian refugee author read like a cross between Aesop, The Arabian Nights and Lydia Davis.
"The stories' distinctive flavour comes from Alomar's masterful shifts of character perspective within extremely tight parameters. The book is full of these moments which trip you up, swing bluntly from one psyche to another, rapidly decelerate time and play with scale, all of it exposing the delicate balance of our presumptions and allegiances; the small dictatorships that we foster second by second." - Asymptote

[There are no puns in this list.]

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