These books have all arrived this week.
Gordon Walters: New Vision by Lucy Hammonds, Julia Waite, Laurence Simmons et al $79
Best known for his positive/negative koru stacks, Walters, as this book demonstrates, was a remarkably diverse and accomplished abstract artist.
>> An exhibition by the same name is currently on display at the Auckland Art Gallery.
The Second Body by Daisy Hildyard $38
How can we bridge the conceptual divide between our individual body and the global body that is also our responsibility, without losing our individual identities?
"Hildyard takes us on a white-knuckle philosophical ride through identity, agency, ecology and molecular biology, leaving us vitally disconcerted, but with a strange new sense of community and solidarity. A curious, oblique, important, and fascinating book." — Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast
McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #50 $55
A whole summer's worth of reading from Lydia Davis, Sarah Vowell, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Diane Williams, Jesse Ball, Sheila Heti, Carrie Brownstein, Etgar Keret, Jonathan Lehtam, Valeira Luiselli, Heidi Julavits, Sherman Alexie, &c, &c, &c, &c, &c, &c (50 writers and artists).
Here We Are: Notes for living on planet earth by Oliver Jeffers $30
"Well, hello. And welcome to this Planet. We call it Earth. Our world can be a bewildering place, especially if you've only just got here. Your head will be filled with questions, so let's explore what makes our planet and how we live on it. From land and sky, to people and time, these notes can be your guide and start you on your journey. And you'll figure lots of things out for yourself. Just remember to leave notes for everyone else. Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you've just got to be kind."
Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard $38
Knausgaard's notes for living on Planet Earth. As the birth of his daughter approaches, Knausgaard continues his quartet recording what he manages to find valuable, beautiful, significant or particular in the world, or at least what he would like to find valuable, beautiful, significant or particular in the world, or least what he would like us to think he finds valuable, beautiful, significant or particular in the world. As always with Knausgaard, the profound and banal prove to be indistinguishable.
"A bit like reporting on a football match by watching the grass." - Guardian
My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci $28
A conversation with a talking cat starts a young man on a journey back to the Kosovo his mother fled before his birth, to confront the magical, cruel, incredible history of his family, and to find a chance to find love.
"A strange, haunting, and utterly original exploration of displacement and desire. A marvel, a remarkable achievement, and a world apart from anything you are likely to read this year." - Tea Obreht, The New York Times
"An elegant, allegorical portrait of lives lived at the margin, minorities within minorities in a new land. My Cat Yugoslavia is layered with meaning and shades of sorrow." - Kirkus
Hazana: Jewish vegetarian cooking by Paola Gavin $52
During 2000 years of exile, Jews have spread across the world, bringing their culinary traditions with them and adapting and adopting the cuisines of their host societies. This book travels from North Africa across Europe and into the Middle East and India, showing all the subtle variations and innovations of essentially Jewish dishes.
Cleansing the Colony: Transporting convicts from New Zealand to Van Diemen's Land by Kristyn Harman $35
During the mid-nineteenth century at least 110 people were transported from New Zealand to serve time as convict labourers in the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania).
The Punishments of Hell by Robert Desnos $30
Written in the period after the dissolution of Paris Dada but before the formalisation of Surrealism, this novel is caught between nihilistic incomprehensibility and savage lyricism. Featuring Desnos and most of other prime members of the Paris Dada movement the momentum of the narrative soon begins to act upon them like a particle accelerator, tearing them off into the impossible.
The Long Dream of Waking: New perspectives on Len Lye edited by Paul Brobbel, Wystan Curnow and Roger Horrocks $50
One of twentieth century art's outstanding modernist innovators, Lye's direct films, kinetic sculptures, photography, drawing, painting and poetry continue to reward new scholarship and discovery. The essays here consider Lye's importance from various perspectives and in international contexts.
>> Two steps ahead of the avant-garde.
Flowersmith: How to handcraft and arrange enchanting paper flowers by Jennifer Tran $45
If you have never wanted to make paper flowers you will want to after seeing this book.
>> These could be your hands.
Why Dylan Matters by Richard F. Thomas $30
When the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan in 2016, many wondered whether he even qualified for the award. Thomas makes the case for his inclusion in the literary canon.
Bottled by Chris Gooch $40
Jane is sick of her dead-end life in the suburbs, and desperate for a change. Her old friend Natalie made it out, living in Japan as a fashion model. Now, as Natalie comes back to town on business, Jane sees a way for her friend to do her a favour - whether she likes it or not.
"Chris Gooch twists the knife in the gap between persona and self. Bottled is a slow burn of a comic where the betrayals and the dread cut deep." - Katie Skelly
The Balkans, 1804-2012: Nationalism, war and the great powers by Misha Glenny $40
Glenny investigates the roots of the bloodshed, invasions and nationalist fervour that have come to define our understanding of the south-eastern edge of Europe, and presents portraits of its kings, guerrillas, bandits, generals, and politicians. Glenny shows that groups we think of as implacable enemies have, over the centuries, formed unlikely alliances, thereby disputing the idea that conflict in the Balkans is the ineluctable product of ancient grudges. He explores the often-catastrophic relationship between the Balkans and the rest of Europe, raising some disturbing questions about Western intervention.
Stories by Susan Sontag $50
All of Sontag's short fiction collected for the first time. Her stories, vignettes, observations and allegories wrestle with similar concepts to her essays, but do so in ways that the essays could not reach.
The Ones Who Keep Quiet by David Howard $25
The ones who keep quiet the longest are the dead, but there are echoes of them everywhere.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: A political life by Robert Dallek $75
Driven my grand but always complicated motivations, Roosevelt harnessed public consensus to make the presidency the foremost institution in the United States of America.
Explorer's Atlas for the Incurably Curious by Piotr Wilkowiecki and Michal Gaszynski $45
The world is so full of a number of things that I'm sure we should all be terribly confused if there weren't books such as this one to give some sort of spatial pattern to our confusion. A beautiful, large-format hardback.
Sodden Downstream by Brannavan Gnanalingam $29
The stresses of yet another once-in-a-lifetime storm in Wellington and not helped by the demands put upon Tamil refugee Sita by her employer, but support comes from unexpected quarters when the usual structures of urban life and upended.
>> "A subversion of the classic quest narrative."
Freedom Hospital: A Syrian story by Hamid Sulaiman $48
A graphic novel giving insight into one the tragedies of our time. Over 40,000 people have died since the start of the Syrian Arab Spring. In the wake of this, Yasmin has set up a clandestine hospital in the north of the country. The town that she lives in is controlled by Assad's regime, but is relatively stable. However, as the months pass, the situation becomes increasingly complex and violent.
The Robin: A biography by Stephen Moss $37
Write to the Point: How to be clear, correct and persuasive on the page by Sam Leith $33
Writing effectively is partly a matter of not making common mistakes and partly a matter of learning a few key skills.
Moonshots: 50 years of NASA space exploration seen through Hasselbladt cameras by Piers Bizony $130
The most extraordinary images of the Apollo and later missions, presented in this lavish large-format slip-cased volume. Who would have thought that such images could inspire such awe and wonder?
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill $48
A sumptuously illustrated new gift edition with extra content.
"No wizarding household is complete without a copy." - Albus Dumbledore
Sticky Fingers: The life and times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone magazine by Joe Hagan $40
To what extent has the vision and ego of one man shaped (or distorted?) popular culture over five decades?
Orwell's Cough: Diagnosing the medical maladies and last gasps of the great writers by John Ross $25
Did Shakespeare's doctors addle his brain with mercury, leading to his early retirement? Was Jane Eyre inspired by the plagued school that claimed the Bronte clan? Did writing 1984 kill George Orwell?
>> Six famous writers injured when writing.
What a Plant Knows: A field guide to the senses by Daniel Chamovitz $38
How do plants experience life on earth? How do they communicate? Is there any sense in which they are 'aware' or can be said to 'remember'? What is it like to be a plant?
A Farewell to Ice: A report from the Arctic by Peter Wadhams $30
Ice regulates the world's temperatures. It is vanishing, fast, faster than anyone predicted and the effects will make the the planet a very different place.
'Astonishing, beautiful, compelling and terrifying." - Observer
"Wadhams' writing sparkles. He has a lyrical sense of wonder at the natural world. This may be the best reader-friendly account of the greenhouse effect available." - John Burnside
>> Our time is running out.
Fraulein Else by Arthur Schnitzler $23
While staying with her aunt at a fashionable spa, Else receives an unexpected telegram from her mother, begging her to save her father from debtor's jail. The only way out, it seems, is to approach an elderly acquaintance in order to borrow money from him. This stream-of-consciousness novella, written from the the point of view of a naively romantic young woman hilariously at odds with reality.
A Short History of Drunkenness by Mark Forsyth $38
Alcohol has existed in all times and in all cultures but drunkenness and the way that is it viewed has varied tremendously across history and peoples.
The Sex Pistols, 1977: The Bollocks Diaries $45
An exhaustive archive of images and writings from the year the Sex Pistols detonated their load on the prevailing musical tastes.
>> "Am I not entitled to do what I want?"
>> 'Anarchy in the UK' (in Sweden).