Here they are.
West by Carys Davies $20
When widowed mule breeder Cy Bellman reads in the newspaper that colossal ancient bones have been discovered in the salty Kentucky mud, he sets out from his small Pennsylvania farm to see for himself if the rumours are true: that the giant monsters are still alive and roam the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River. Promising to write and to return in two years, he leaves behind his only daughter, Bess, to the tender mercies of his taciturn sister and heads west. Bess must approach adulthood in her father's absence.
"To read Carys Davies's West is to encounter a myth, or potent dream - a narrative at once new and timeless." - Claire Messud
"Carys Davies is a deft, audacious visionary." - Téa Obreht
>> Beasts beyond the frontier.
>> Over the frontier in search of monsters.
Notes from No Man's Land by Eula Biss $38
Notes from No Man's Land begins with a series of lynchings, ends with a list of apologies, and in an unsettling coda revisits a litany of murders that no one seems capable of solving. Biss explores race in America through the experiences chronicled in these essays: teaching in a Harlem school on the morning of 9/11, reporting from an African American newspaper in San Diego, watching the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from a college town in Iowa, and rereading Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. She reveals how families, schools, communities, and civic institutions participate in preserving white privilege.
"I can't think of an American writer at work today who matches Eula Biss's combination of lyrical precision, exhaustive research, timely provocation, and fiercely examined conscience." - Maggie Nelson
The Music: A novel through sound by Matthew Herbert $40
Instead of making another record of his music assembled from sounds, Matthew Herbert has written a description of that record, assembling descriptions of sounds into chapters rather than tracks, creating a book that is both a manifesto for sound, or, rather, for listening, and an unusual novel.
>> Anything can be music.
>> Matthew Herbert's website.
American Innovations by Rivka Galchen $23
Stories told from the perspective of a woman attuned to and under attack by the small ironies and psychological perversities of everyday life. What happens when a woman's furniture walks out on her, when another woman starts to grow a third breast, when the cheese won't stay put?
"Rivka Galchen is one of the best things going. She writes for the joy of it and so artfully, and conforms to no-one else's standards." - Rachel Kushner
"The pinball wizard of American letters, with a narrative voice that can ricochet from wonder to terror to hilarity. The delicacy and brilliance of what Galchen is doing doesn't yet have a name." - Karen Russell
Fast by Jorie Graham $30
An eagerly anticipated new collection from this innovative and exhilarating poet.
"In Fast the feel-good myth of American democracy explodes. Graham has studied grief and tracked its symptoms to their sources. A body can indeed tell the story of the world." - The New York Times
When I Hit You, Or, A portrait of the writer as a young wife by Meena Kandasamy $22
Caught in the hook of love, a young woman marries a dashing university professor. She moves to a rain-washed coastal town to be with him, but behind closed doors she discovers that her perfect husband is a perfect monster. As he sets about battering her into obedience and as her family pressures her to stay in the marriage, she swears to fight back - a resistance that will either kill her or set her free. Short-listed for the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction. Now in paperback.
"Explosive." - Guardian
"Urgent." - Financial Times
Dictionary Stories: Short fictions and other findings by Jez Burrows $33
When Burrows opened his dictionary and read, under the entry for 'study', the exemplary sentence, "He perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery," he realised he had stumbled upon a treasure trove of fiction. Could these sentences be assembled into more extended (but still quite short) fictional works? This book bears the wonderful results of his experiments.
"Dictionary Stories isn't just a book for word nerds, but for anyone for whom language and story matter. Everybody will find themselves thoroughly in love with this book." - Kory Stamper, editor for Merriam-Webster
"Dictionary Stories is a giddy celebration of the wild, elastic potential of language." - McSweeny's
>> Visit the Dictionary Stories blog.
You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld $35
Curtis Sittenfeld has established a reputation as a sharp chronicler of the modern age who humanizes her subjects even as she skewers them. These ten stories upend assumptions about class, relationships, and gender roles in a nation that feels both adrift and viscerally divided.
“Every bit as smart, sensitive, funny, and genuine as her phenomenally popular novels.” - Booklist
Brazen: Rebel ladies who rocked the world by Pénélope Bagieu $40
Fascinating graphic biographies of thirty remarkable women, most of whom have been largely 'forgotten' by history. Includes Tove Jansson, Josephine Baker, Temple Grandin, Wu Zetian and Peggy Guggenheim.
"A modern classic." - Guardian
>> See some spreads.
Skybound: A journey into flight by Rebecca Loncraine $35
When Loncraine was diagnosed with breast cancer she determined to take to the air and took up gliding. This book is a memoir of unpowered flights around the world (including New Zealand), a history of gliding and a piece of thoughtful nature writing from an unusual perspective.
>> FYA (For Your Amusement): Sport gliding in the 1920s.
The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli $35
If there is no such thing as the past or the future, why do we have this concept of time? How can a useful construct also hamper our understanding of the nature of the universe? If we rethink our notions of time, are we able to build some sort of model of reality that takes cognisance of but overcomes the shortcomings of general relativity, quantum mechanics and string theory? Beautifully written and deeply thoughtful.
>> Is spacetime granular?
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal $37
The dolls that Mona makes each have a special significance for different periods of her life. This novel is a story told through the relationship between memory and objects.
Long-listed for the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction.
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, translated by Michael Hofmann $38
Franz Biberkopf returns to Alexanderplatz, fresh from prison. When his friend murders the prostitute on whom Biberkopf has been relying, he realises that he will be unable to extricate himself from the underworld into which he has sunk. He must deal with misery, lack of opportunities, crime and proto-Nazism. A new translation of this 1929 modernist classic.
>> Scandalous velocity.
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer $37
How is the feminist torch passed between generations? Who fumbles in the exchange?
“Uncannily timely, a prescient marriage of subject and moment that addresses a great question of the day: how feminism passes down, or not, from one generation to the next.” — The New York Times
“Meg Wolitzer is the novelist we need right now. The Female Persuasion is the sort of book that comes along in too few authors’ careers—one that makes the writer’s intellectual project snap into sharp focus, and with it, the case that their artistry is not merely enjoyable but truly important.” —The Washington Post
“Equal parts cotton candy and red meat.” – People
Flames by Robbie Arnott $37
After their mother's death Levi McAlliester builds a coffin for his sister, who promptly runs for her life. As they cross inhospitable country they also traverse the grief, love and history that both bond and divide them.
"A strange and joyous marvel." - Richard Flanagan
Finding by David Hill $20
The fortunes of an immigrant family and a tangata whenua family are intertwined in this story of seven generations and 130 years of fast-flowing change.
Unexceptional Politics: On obstruction, impasses and the impolitic by Emily Apter $35
Can a new mode of political thought and action be constructed that evades the net of scams, imbroglios, information trafficking, brinkmanship, and parliamentary procedures that obstruct and block progressive politics. The book proposes a new mode of dialectical resistance, countering notions of the "state of exception" embedded in theories of the "Political" from Thomas Hobbes to Carl Schmitt.
"Unexceptional Politics is a book that teaches walking the walk by exposing the talk talked. Very few academic books of this intellectual quality can serve as a guide for activism in the interest of social justice. A text for careful reading." - Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
All That Remains: A life in death by Sue Black $38
From the grieving process after losing a loved one, to violence, murder, criminal dismemberment, missing persons, war, natural disasters, unidentified bodies, historical remains, and working with investigative agencies, lawyers, justice, criminal sentences, and always sadness and pain, Black takes us on a scientific and reflective journey explaining the genetic DNA traits that develop before our birth, and those traits and features we gather through life, all of which add up to an identity that reveals itself in death.
"No scientist communicates better than Professor Sue Black. All That Remains is a unique blend of memoir and monograph that admits us into the remarkable world of forensic anthropology." - Val McDermid
Spineless: The science of jellyfish and the art of growing a backbone by Juli Gerwald $38
We know so little about these most ancient of sea creatures, 95% water, highly venomous and barely distinguishable from their habitat.
>> "I thought you had a spinal column."
A Tribute to Flowers: Plants under pressure photographed by Richard Fischer $90
Fifty percent of the world's flower species are threatened with extinction. To highlight this, flower ambassador Fischer has photographed dozens of threatened flowers. Each glows on the page in this astounding book.
>> Some of the photographs can be seen here, but the book is ten times more stunning.
To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine $33
At the launch party for her memoir Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys in 2014, musician Viv Albertine received news that her mother was dying, and spent a few final hours with the woman who was, in a sense, the love of her life. In the turbulent weeks after the funeral, Viv made a series of discoveries that revealed the role of family conflicts in propelling her towards the uncompromising world of punk.
>> The Slits in London, 1979.
>> Peel sessions.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust $20
A retelling of 'Snow White' from the point of view of both the stepmother, a young woman with a glass heart who wants to know love, and the stepdaughter, a young woman made of snow who seeks solidity.
"In Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Melissa Bashardoust has given us exquisite displays of magic, complex mother-daughter relationships, and gloriously powerful women triumphing in a world that does not want them to be powerful. A gorgeous, feminist fairy tale." - Traci Chee
The Feather Thief: Beauty, obsession and the natural history heist of the century by Kirk Wallace Johnson $38
One summer evening in 2009, twenty-year-old musical prodigy Edwin Rist broke into the British Museum of Natural History. Hours later, he slipped away with a suitcase full of rare bird specimens collected over the centuries from across the world, all featuring a dazzling array of priceless feathers. When Kirk Wallace Johnson discovered that the thief evaded prison, and that half the birds were never recovered, he embarked upon an investigation which led him deep into the secretive underground community obsessed with the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Bizarre.
A Sister in My House by Linda Olsson $35
Two sisters end up sharing a rented house in Spain and having to come to terms with their personal tragedies. From the author of The Kindness of Your Nature.
Whisper by Lynette Noni $23
“'Lengard is a secret government facility for extraordinary people,' they told me. 'It's for people just like you.' I believed them. That was my mistake. There isn't anyone else in the world like me. I'm different.I'm an anomaly. I'm a monster." For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, 'Jane Doe' has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word. Life at Lengard follows a strict, torturous routine that has never changed. When Jane is assigned a new-and unexpectedly kind-evaluator, her resolve begins to crack, despite her best efforts. One wrong word could change the world. A gripping YA novel.
Hyper-Capitalism: The modern economy, its values, and how to change them by Larry Gonick and Tom Kasser $40
A graphic novel showing how global, privatising, market-worshipping hyper-capitalism is threatening human well-being, social justice, and the planet, and exploring different ways in which this model has been or can be assailed.
The List: A week-by-week reckoning of Trump's first year by Amy Siskind $38
Siskind has undertaken to document the grain-by-grain destruction of democracy in the US, publishing it in her blog The Weekly List, and now in this book. Beware: this is how democracy ends.
War on Peace: The end of diplomacy and the decline of American influence by Ronan Farrow $32
Is the military taking over from the diplomats?
A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano and Lane Smith $30
Two children enter an abandoned house and find plenty to capture their imagination. Did a family once live here?
Weird Maths: At the edge of infinity and beyond by David Darling and Agnijo Banerjee $27
Is anything truly random? Does infinity actually exist? Could we ever see into other dimensions?
Miss Ex-Yugoslavia by Sofija Stefanovic $40
Stefanovic was born into a country about to tear itself apart. Her family moved back and forth between Yugoslavia and Australia several times, unable to feel fully at home in either place, and Sofija came to embody cultural contradictions that made her feel a perpetual outsider.
The Siege and Fall of Troy by Robert Graves $30
A beautifully presented and well-told version for younger readers.
Forever Words: The unknown poems by Johnny Cash $23
A collection of lyrics that didn't become songs. Includes facsimiles of the scraps of paper upon which they were found.
>> 'God's Gonna Cut You Down'.
Hamster is a journal of literature, art, 'literature', 'art', literary polemic, art polemic, other polemic, and also other things (including limited edition and unique art works and work made with adhesive lettering), published by The Physics Room. Hamster is free. Issues #1 and #2 are available digitally at www.physicsroom.org.nz.