Sunday 28 October 2018

BOOKS @ VOLUME  #99 (27.10.18)

Read our latest newsletter and find out what we're reading and doing at VOLUME. 

Saturday 27 October 2018

Books of the Week. In 2015 Lucia Berlin burst, posthumously, out of obscurity with the publication of a selection of her stories entitled A Manual for Cleaning Women. Here was an authentic voice, a cleanness of style, a depiction of disadvantage, vulnerability and strength without sentimentality of condescension, a mordant but sympathetic humour, and an ability to pivot the largest observations on the smallest of details. The new selection of stories, Evening in Paradise, and the never-before-published set of autobiographical sketches, Welcome Home, that Berlin was working on when she died in 2004, will reinforce Berlin's place in the front line of 20th century American writing. 
>>Visit the Lucia Berlin website
>>Lydia Davis likes Lucia Berlin
>>"I was always on the outside."
>> Lucia Berlin writes home. 
>>An 'Unmanageable' alcoholic.
>> A litany of failed homes
>>Home movies
>>A Lucia Berlin mug, anyone? 


In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne 
Girls, football and music are the distractions and saving graces in three young men’s lives in the gritty, violent and tension-filled shadows of the towers of Stones Estate in North London. Selvon, Ardan and Yusuf just want to get together to play football and find a way out. Selvon trains -runs, boxes, presses the bench in a bid to make a university on the sports team. Arden has a secret dream to make his beats a musical career, and Yusuf wants to be invisible to the eyes of his Muslim community. In Guy Gunaratne’s debut novel, long-listed for the Man Booker, short-listed for the Goldsmith’s Prize, three voices meld, declaring their friendship against the growing tensions of race riots, poverty, extremism and raw edges. “Our friendships we called our bloods and our homes our Ends….Our combs cut lines in our hair and we scarred our eyebrows with blades….Close without touch…. In our caustic speech we threw out platitudes, in our guts our feisty wit. It was like we lived upon jagged teeth in the dark, in this bone-cold London city.” The language, with its slang and dialect which draws on grime (music) and sassy vibes, hums along, spits and hollers with the voices of the three young men, giving the text authenticity as well as an edgy structure, building to a crescendo over the two days of the book. Alongside the voices of these three compelling young men are two from the generation of their parents: Nelson, father to Selvon, from Montserrat, and Caroline, single alcoholic mother of Ardan, from Belfast. Each has their own story of oppression and resistance - of violence and pain - creating layers of history that parallel contemporary issues as well as digging deep into constructs of prejudice that have never resolved. In this post-9/11 world where the economy bites and prejudice is rife, the melting pot of London is under pressure. When white supremacists fuel race hatred, and the radicalisation of the local Mosque forces out moderate voices, tensions mount and the three friends find themselves in the middle of a dangerous world - a world that was a safe haven, that was their home. This is a provocative novel that doesn’t shy away from the attitudes of young men, their desperate desires and self-absorption, and shows their world as it is - tough and vicious. Yet there is hope in this seemingly dangerous situation: each of the friends care, and care deeply, about each other and about their families. They are determined to survive and be true to themselves, to remain untouched by rhetoric even in the face of extreme pressure and confusion. Gunaratne explores these complex themes with agility and sensitivity. The strength of the novel lies not so much in its telling but in the way in which this author writes - his words riff off the page, with the rhythm of the dialogue and the lively, and at times beautiful, descriptions of a place that represents oppression, fear and desperation, to let us open a window into a world which may be foreign to us - to enable us to understand the choices people make and the repercussions that follow them.


The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
“I dedicated my time to writing about the cases I had worked on, but I wrote them differently. My new method was to recount a series of events without disregarding insanity or doubt. This form of writing wasn’t about telling things how they were or how they could be, or could have been; it was about how they still vibrate, right now, in the imagination.” An ‘ex-detective’ takes a commission from a man she meets at a party to follow and bring back the man’s second wife, who danced with a man she met at a party and fled with him deep into the Taiga, leaving a trail of telegrams and other “forms of writing no longer in use” which have given the man the impression  that she wants to be found. The ex-detective looks out through a window and sets off. What she embarks on is a literary undertaking rather than an actual one, but one with exactly similar detective work. The journey into the Taiga is a journey into the forest of possible ways a story could be told. “Whether I was obeying or taming language is not important.” It is not difficult to find the traces of the woman who left, but the detective’s quest is not so much a search for her as a search for the mechanisms of passion that motivated her to leave and to enter the Taiga: the quest is one of becoming aware of the experiences of the woman, or, rather, of becoming aware of the words that might be used to express or access the experiences of the woman. The detective is seeking not so much to capture what happened or to capture the story that might be written about what happened, as to capture the mechanism by which what happened might give rise to the story about that happened. What is the relationship between the mechanisms of passion that caused a woman to leave her husband and follow another into the Taiga, and the mechanisms of passion that caused another woman to follow and to write about it? The detective seeks to understand “the desire of bodies and, at the same time, the desire to narrate bodies.” She asks, “What is between imagining a forest and living in a forest? What brings together the writing of a forest with the lived experience of a forest?” The Taiga is emotional rather than physical terrain. The detective travels with a translator, a man who is able to provide her with parallel representations of the stories told by the people who live in the Taiga, a man who both both provides access to experience and keeps this experience at a remove and uncertain. The narrative is full of parallels, removes, repetitions, circularities, and circularities-within-circularities. Is the person the detective is tracking in fact herself? Does she seek to know why she herself left and ran off into 'the Taiga', or desired to leave and run off into 'the Taiga'? Is the constant emphasis on fleeing and on one who flees evidence of an unstated situation in which it is impossible or not yet possible to flee? To see through a window is to project oneself through that window into what the window frames: the distance, the Taiga, the place where one is absent from the situation in which one currently exists. In fairy tales one enters a forest both to escape and to confront the cannibalistic desires to which one is exposed in one’s ‘ordinary’ life and situation. In the Taiga the detective discerns terror, especially the terror experienced by the so-called lost woman, but the terror is primarily a terror of consequence, any consequence, a terror of a development towards which we are propelled through the impulse to escape. Where does the trail lead? “To seek something out is to expose it,” but “it is difficult to describe what can’t be imagined.” The quest is a literary rather than a physical endeavour, a struggle for what we might call narrative to overcome what we might call description. The story is frequently overwhelmed and lost by noticing, by the ‘evidence’ of the senses. Noticing is static. “Seeing is just confirmation of a fact.” It is the natural tendency of details to disperse the impulse and obscure meaning, although impulse and meaning have no way in which to come to our attention without details. “When nothing else seemed to make sense, sense was hidden in irrefutable words.” Will the detective ‘find’ the woman (even if that woman is herself)? Will she ask, “Is this the end of falling out of love?” Will she bring the woman back (whatever that means)? “Failures weigh people down,” the detective states, but she also provides a quote from Einstein that likens gravity to fiction: “Said force is an illusion, an effect of the geometry of space-time. The Earth deforms space-time in such a way that space itself pushes us toward the ground.”

Friday 26 October 2018


Writer in Residence by Francis Plug        $37
Oh no, Francis Plug is back! In the devastatingly funny How To Be A Public Author, Plug (a.k.a. New Zealander Paul Ewen) gave an account of visiting book festivals and events and getting Booker winners to inscribe books to him (>>read Thomas's review of that book here). Now Plug has landed a position as a writer-in-residence. What could be worse (or funnier)?
"Outstandingly funny, this book is pure delight. Plug’s observations on authors, academics and architects are hilarious and absurd but always compassionate." - The Guardian
Infinite Resignation by Eugene Thacker           $40
Comprised of aphorisms, fragments, and observations both philosophical and personal, Infinite Resignation traces the contours of pessimism, caught as it often is between a philosophical position and a bad attitude. By turns melancholic, misanthropic, and tinged with gallows humour, Thacker's writing hovers between the thought of futility and the futility of thought. The final section of the book contains pessimistic biographies of the so-called 'patron saints of pessimism' (>>meet some of these here)

Heimat: A German family album by Nora Krug          $55
Nora Krug grew up as a second-generation German after the end of the Second World War, struggling with a profound ambivalence towards her country's recent past. Travelling as a teenager, her accent alone evoked raw emotions in the people she met, an anger she understood, and shared. Seventeen years after leaving Germany for the US, Nora Krug decided she couldn't know who she was without confronting where she'd come from. In this outstanding graphic novel, she documents her journey investigating the lives of her family members under the Nazi regime, charting her way deep into a country still tainted by war. 
>> A German in New York
>> Watch Krug drawing the book
>> What is left to say about Germany's Nazi past?
>> Krug's website.
Feast: Food of the Islamic world by Anissa Helou        $85
Compendious, authoritative, clear, well illustrated, desirable.
Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, collectors and the Maori world, 1880-1910 by Roger Blackley         $75
Galleries of Maoriland introduces the many ways in which Pakeha discovered, created, propagated and romanticised the 'Maori world' at the turn of the century: in the paintings of Lindauer and Goldie, among artists, patrons, collectors and audiences; inside the Polynesian Society and the Dominion Museum; among stolen artefacts and fantastical accounts of the Maori past. The culture of Maoriland was a Pakeha creation. The book shows also that Maori were not merely passive victims: they too had a stake in this process of romanticisation.
>> Blackley on the radio (and an image gallery to look at while you're listening!).

The Nordic Baking Book by Magus Nilsson          $70
The absolutely definitive guide to every possible sort of pastry, biscuit, cake and bread originating in Scandinavia (with regional variations). Highly recommended. 
Birdstories: A history of the birds of New Zealand by Geoff Norman          $60
A beautifully presented and illustrated cultural history of the importance, use, study, depiction and description of New Zealand's unique avifauna to Maori and Pakeha through history. 
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver         $37
Parallel stories in 1871, when the discoveries of Darwin and others challenged established world views, and 2016, when Trump's election indicated a world-changing challenge of a different sort, Kingsolver's eagerly anticipated new novel is alert to the personal nuances of social change. 
The Cuba Street Project: Place, food, people by Beth Brash and Alice Lloyd         $55
Profiles, photographs and recipes from the eateries on Wellington's favourite street. 

Notes from a Public Typewriter edited by Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti         $30
When Michael and Hilary Gustafson and his wife opened Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they put out a typewriter for anyone to use. They had no idea what to expect. Would people ask metaphysical questions? Write mean things? Pour their souls onto the page?
>> Literati, the story of a community bookshop (recommended viewing). 
>> The typing!

At the Strangers' Gate: Arrivals in New York by Adam Gopnik         $28
When Gopnik and his wife moved to New York in the early 1980s, the city then, much like today, was a pilgrimage site for the young, the arty, and the ambitious. But it was also becoming a city of greed, where both life's consolations and its necessities were increasingly going to the highest bidder.
"Anyone who worries that artificial intelligence might some day outpace the faulty circuitry inside human heads should be cheered by the existence of Adam Gopnik. His brain has nothing to fear from electronic competition. It is an organ housed in a body, kindled by the appetites and affections of the flesh; it operates friskily, risking vast generalities that it clinches with neat, nimble aphorisms. Gopnik can write brilliantly about almost anything." - Guardian 
Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days: A memoir of recovery by Bill Clegg             $30
An honest and riveting account of literary agent Clegg's descent to rock bottom through crack addiction, and of his attempt to ascend to normal life.

First You Write a Sentence. by Joe Moran        $40
Books (and much else) either succeed or fail at the level of the sentence. Moran shows us how to appreciate - and how to produce - sentences in which the words combine with effectiveness and elegance. 
Hell: Dante's divine trilogy, Part one, Decorated and Englished in prosaic verse by Alasdair Gray           $33
Dante's Inferno newly translated by a self-described "fat, spectacled, balding, increasingly old Glaswegian pedestrian", author of the unparalleled Lanark
>> The Gray Matter
Hudson & Halls: The food of love by Joanne Drayton        $50
The television chefs who were at the forefront of changing public attitudes towards homosexuality in 1970s and 1980s New Zealand. 
>> Cheese grating

Hillary's Antarctica: Adventure, exploration, and establishing Scott Base by Nigel Watson, photographs by Jane Ussher       $50
Hilllary and New Zealand were supposed to be a support act to the 1958 British Commonwealth Antarctic crossing party. By heading on to the South Pole and reaching it before the crossing party, Hillary exceeded the brief. His actions created tensions, unleashed a media storm, and denied the British a historic first overland to the South Pole since Scott. This book also details the establishment the restoration of Scott Base, and of New Zealand's presence in the Antarctic generally. 

Animals of Aotearoa: Explore and discover New Zealand's wildlife with Gillian Candler and Ned Barraud          $35
At last! An excellent clear guide for children to New Zealand fauna of land, water and air. 

Empress of the East: How a slave girl became queen of the Ottoman Empire by Leslie Price        $45
Abducted by slave traders from her home in Ruthenia - modern-day Ukraine - around 1515, Roxelana was brought to Istanbul and trained in the palace harem as a concubine for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, ruler of the Ottoman Empire. Suleyman became besotted with Roxelana and foreswore all other concubines, freeing and marrying her. Roxelana became a shrewd diplomat and philanthropist, transforming the hearem into an instrument of imperial rule and helping Suleyman keep pace with a changing world in which women - Isabella of Hungary, Catherine de Medici - were increasingly close to power.
Germaine: The life of Germaine Greer by Elizabeth Kleinhenz       $48
The Female Eunuch and beyond. 
Darius the Great is Not OK by Adib Khorram       $23
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He's a Fractional Persian - half, his mother's side - and his first ever trip to Iran is about to change his life. Darius has never really fitted in at home, and he's sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His depression doesn't exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they're spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city's skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush - the original Persian version of his name - and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he's Darioush to Sohrab.
National Populism: The revolt against liberal democracy by Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin       $28

Across the West, there is a rising tide of people who feel excluded, alienated from mainstream politics, and increasingly hostile towards minorities, immigrants and neo-liberal economics. What does this mean for the functioning of our societies? 

Lenny's Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee         $23
Lenny Spink is the sister of a giant. Her little brother, Davey, suffers from a rare form of gigantism and is taunted by other kids and turned away from school because of his size. To escape their cruel reality, Lenny and Davey obsess over the entries in their monthly installment of Burrell's Build-It-at-Home Encyclopedia set. Lenny vows to become a beetle expert, while Davey decides he will run away to Canada and build a log cabin. But as Davey's disease progresses, the siblings' richly imagined world becomes harder to cling to. 

Heartland: A memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh           $38
During Sarah Smarsh's turbulent childhood in Kansas in the 1980s and 1990s, the forces of cyclical poverty and the country's changing economic policies solidified her family's place among the working poor. 
Freeman's: The best new writing on Power        $38

Margaret Atwood posits it's time to update the gender of werewolf narratives. Aminatta Forna shatters the silences which supposedly ensured her safety as a woman of colour walking in public space. The narrator of Lan Samantha Chang's short story assumes control of her family's finances to buy a house. Meanwhile the hero of Tahmima Anam's story achieves freedom by selling bull semen. Josephine Rowe recalls a gallery attendee trying to take what was not on offer when she worked as a life-drawing model. Booker Prize winner Ben Okri watches power stripped from the residents of Grenfell Tower by ferocious neglect.
Heroes by Stephen Fry           $37
From his retelling of the Greek myths in Mythos, Fry now turns his attention to the Greek legends, bringing alive the mortal human and demigod heroes as they confront quests and monsters on behalf of the rest of us. 
>> Just for one day

Books that Saved My Life by Michael McGirr       $40
Personal introductions to forty life-preserving texts. 

Bibliophile: An illustrated miscellany for people who love books by Jan Mount        $50
A love letter to all things bookish, quirkily illustrated with hand-drawn stacks of books, bopokshops (including Unity Auckland!), bookshop cats, &c.
Also available: 
Bibliophile diary 2019      $40
Bibliophile notecards      $30
>> Have a look through our BIBLIOPHILIA! list

A Girl's Guide to Personal Hygiene: True stories, illustrated by Tallulah Pomeroy         $30
What things do women usually not tell other people about their bodies? This silly, gross but somehow empowering book outlines a few. 
>>Tallulah Pomeroy's website

Saturday 20 October 2018

BOOKS @ VOLUME #98 (20.10.18)

Read our newsletter and find out what we've been reading and recommending this week, about some of the week's new releases, and about a great swathe of upcoming events. 


Call Them By Their True Names: American crises (and essays) by Rebecca Solnit  {Reviewed by STELLA}
In a time of political, social and environmental crises, it’s easy to dismiss the issues and be subsumed by your own ideology - and be enraged by another’s viewpoint. We all will find ourselves both challenged and heartened by journalist, critic and activist Rebecca Solnit’s latest series of essays, Call Them by Their True Names. These essays are focused on the country she lives in, its politics and history, and the stories that paint a portrait of a country in crisis and the response to these crises, yet her language and her arguments are universal: her themes are issues that should concern us all - injustice, inequality, violence and hope. The introductory essay lays the groundwork for the reader’s approach to the subject matter. As the title suggests, she is urging us to consider the ways in which society (politicians, media, lobbyists, spin doctors) and we, as individuals, describe situations and issues, often hiding the true meaning behind false language. What we call things, and how we call it out, matters - language is crucial to understanding and hence to communication. Solnit argues that it is only when we call things by their true names that we can counter them or converse in meaningful (and change-provoking) dialogue. From the 2016 American elections, where she pinpoints the disenfranchisement of millions of voters ( in 'Twenty Million  Missing Storytellers') as a pivotal tool to a conservative victory, to the ‘loneliness’ of Donald Trump - an individual isolated from the real mechanisms of the political system and ultimately, you get the impression from Solnit's analysis, doomed to failure of his own making - to the reasons why Hilary Clinton was demonised even by the left-leaning media and critics, Solnit calls out the lazy thinking and the ease with which certain catch-phrases and language are used to explain away the results. She then goes on to think and articulate the emotional structures that underpin some of this thinking. In the essay 'Preaching to the Choir' she considers the wisdom of talking with or to those who hold the same or similar political beliefs. She draws on psychological research - it is easier to move people closer to your viewpoint than to change someone’s mind from an opposing position - and with this in mind, wonders why the focus of political elections has been on the ‘swing voter’ or the undecided. In 'Naive Cynicism', Solnit critiques those who fall back on rhetoric on all sides of the political spectrum, and is particularly damning of those on the left who have found it easier to be cynical and use language as a tool to undermine the actions or small achievements of their colleagues. 'Facing the Furies' deals with anger and violence as political tools and whether they are useful or even advisable. The third part of the collection looks at specific and pivotal happenings that illustrate Solnit’s ideas. There are thought-provoking and important essays about climate change and resistance: 'Climate Change is Violence', 'The Light from Standing Rock'; the annexation of California and what borders mean: 'Blood on the Foundation'; and inequality and its repercussions: 'Death by Gentrification'. The final three essays lay out a way of thinking about the future by engaging in the present: the importance of community, communication and the indirect consequences of action, and why utilising language that embraces facts and history rather than spin or empty phrases is vitally important. Solnit is biting and savage in her analysis, yet also hopeful and admiring of the power of activism.   


An Untouched House by Willem Frederik Hermans  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
[Warning: This review contains spoilers (in fact, it is one big spoiler)]

“If people stopped feeling altogether, the world would be greatly improved. They could lose an arm or a leg without noticing; it wouldn’t feel any different from cutting your nails. They could bleed to death without noticing. People should be numb. Then they would never have reached such numbers. This many would have never survived.” Traumatised and exhausted by years of fighting the Nazis as one of a multinational group of partisans now attached to the Red Army, the narrator of this nihilistic novella (first published in Dutch in 1950) leaves his unit on the orders of a commander whose language he cannot understand and enters the streets of spa town (possibly in Hungary?) that has been abandoned by its population. He walks straight up to a large intact house, and, finding its door ajar, he wipes his feet and enters. There is nobody in the house, but, as when a hero enters a fairy tale castle, he finds that the house contains every comfort and provision, with even soup still warm on the stove. "For the first time in a very long time I had entered a real house, a genuine home,” he states, and it is not long before it becomes clear to him that he will not be returning to his unit but remaining in this house for the duration of the war. “Stay here forever, I thought, where nothing can happen. If the whole world disappeared, I wouldn’t even notice, as long as this house, this grass, and all the things I can see around me stay the same.” The person that the narrator may once have been is a casualty of the war; he is now nothing more than a symptom of his circumstances. “Those who only think are only half in touch with themselves,” he says. “I only did things that didn’t require any thought.” Rationality is no virtue in war. The head is, in fact, he points out, the source of the war: “This bowl of bone covered with its lid and moveable hole, this was where it all came from: the other people, the world, the war, the dreams, the words, the deeds that seemed to happen automatically.” The narrator is about to force the door of the one room that the house keys will not unlock (another fairy tale trope), when there is a knock on the street door: the Nazis have retaken the town and are requisitioning the house to billet officers. The narrator finds it expedient to pretend to be the owner of the house - even though the trousers he has requisitioned are ludicrously short - and to remain in the upper rooms of the house. All identities are dissolved by war and become fluid. “The owner of the house had never existed, that was the truth! He had been the intruder, not me.” For a time, uneasily but not particularly uneasily, the narrator shares the house with the Nazi officers. One day, when the officers are away, he climbs a ladder in an attempt to enter the locked room through one of the blacked-out windows, but he is surprised by the return of the house’s actual owner, and, as the novella gains momentum towards it awful end, the narrator shoots him from the window and strangles his wife. As he passes the door of the locked room on his way to hiding the bodies, he notices it is ajar, and, in a passage that would make your jaw drop if I hadn’t here told you about it, he finds that the room is filled with aquariums containing rare fish attended by an immensely old man, the owner’s father, who, existing in quite some other narrative, states that his son and daughter-in-law have been hit and killed by a shell. Circumstances allow no space for initiative, merely for reaction. The, as the town is recaptured by the Red Army, the Germans flee. When the commandant advises the narrator to escape, the narrator locks him in the cellar and returns to the house with his partisan unit who enact a shocking carnival of destruction, finally relieving the house of the qualities that had attracted the narrator. “It was like the house had been putting on an act the whole time and was only now showing itself as it, in reality, had always been.” Hermans’s stark, condensed style is very effective in showing how fragile our so-called virtues are in the face of crisis, and how violence ultimately relieves us of whatever qualities we thought had defined us. 

"Call me Bathsheba." This week's Book of the Week, And the Ocean Was Our Sky, written by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Rovina Cai, is a remarkable inversion of - and futuristic riff on - Moby-Dick, told from the point of view of the whale - and no less a portrayal of the damaging effects of obsession and brutality. 
>> Read Stella's review
>> Patrick Ness introduces us to the book
>> Ness reads to us from the book
>> The illustrations are wonderful. Visit Rovina Cai's website. 
>> Books by Patrick Ness at VOLUME
>> Hmmm

Friday 19 October 2018

Wild Milk by Sabrina Orah Mark       $36
Like Borscht Belt meets Leonora Carrington; like Donald Barthelme meets Pony Head; like the Brothers Grimm meet Beckett in his swim trunks at the beach, the stories in Wild Milk make the reader lose their footing is unexpectedly pleasurable ways.
>> Read the title story
>> Mark on Bruno Schulz, fairy tales and the Holocaust.
Headlands: New stories of anxiety edited by Naomi Arnold          $30
What is the topography of anxiety in Godzone? This excellent collection of essays, personal accounts and stories, from Ashleigh Young, Sarah Lin Wilson, Kirsten McDougall, Anthony Birt, Hinemoana Baker, Bonny Etherington, Kate Kennedy, Holly Walker, Kerry Sunderland, Eamonn Marra, Tusiata Avia, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Rebecca Priestly, Donna McLeod and others, reveals both the breadth and the depth of New Zealand's anxiety epidemic - and suggests that there are veins of light to be found in that darkness.
>>Naomi talks on Radio NZ.
Melmoth by Sarah Perry         $33
The much-anticipated novel from the author of The Essex Serpent. Twenty years ago Helen Franklin did something she cannot forgive herself for, and she has spent every day since barricading herself against its memory. But her sheltered life is about to change. A strange manuscript has come into her possession. It is filled with testimonies from the darkest chapters of human history, which all record sightings of a tall, silent woman in black, with unblinking eyes and bleeding feet: Melmoth, the loneliest being in the world. 
>>Draws on legends of eternal wanderers, epitomised in Charles Maturin's 1820 Gothic masterpiece Melmoth the Wanderer
>>Perry on writing under the influence of drugs. 
>>What toll does an atrocity exact upon its witnesses? 
The Ice Shelf by Anne Kennedy         $30
Who's the fridge? Is there no end to acknowledgements? Are acknowledgements a form of revenge? Is love a non-renewable resource? Is global warming a form of defrosting? Do relationships start to go off as soon as they start to warm up? Read The Ice Shelf and laugh your way past no end of serious issues. 
>> Is this the only novel ever published to have a fridge as one of its main characters? 

The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza       $36
An unnamed Ex-Detective searches for a couple who has fled to the far reaches of the earth. A betrayed husband is convinced by a brief telegram that his second ex-wife wants him to track her down. He hires the Ex-Detective, who sets out with a translator into a snowy, hostile forest where strange things happen and translation betrays both sense and one's senses. Tales of Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood haunt the Ex-Detective's quest, though the lessons of her journey are more experiential than moral: that just as love can fly away, sometimes unloving flies away as well. 
>> Failures weigh people down
>> The Unusual: A manifesto
Yours Truly: Art, human rights, and the power of writing a letter by Ai Weiwei, David Spalding et al           $50
Participants in Weiwei's installation sent 92,829 postcards to prisoners of conscience around the world. The well-documented  book includes statements from five recipients of postcards, and an encouragement to readers to send the postcards included in the book. 

In Memoriam: To Vilnius and Kaunas Ghetto survivors by Antanas Sutkus        $22
A remarkable set of portraits of Lithuanian Jewish survivors of the Nazi occupation, during which over 200,000 Lithuanian Jews were murdered.
>> A few images from the book

The Noma Guide to Fermentation, Including koji, kombuchas, shoyus, misos, vinegars, garums, lacto-fermented vegetables, and black fruits by René Redzepi and David Zilber     $90
Four times named the world's best restaurant, Noma has its own fermentation laboratory (headed by Zilber). Here world fermentation traditions are tested, understood and enhanced. This is an astounding book.
 Dopesick: Dealers, doctors and the drug company that addicted America by Beth Macy         $37
Macy's subtle and angry investigation reveals how the active encouragement by the Perdue corporation for small-town doctors in Appalachia to over-prescribe OxyContin, a highly addictive opioid painkiller, has led to a ballooning of heroin addiction and attendant social ills. An expose of the part cynically played by corporations in the undermining of the public good. 
Unearthing Ancient Nubia by Lawrence Burman        $60
Specially trained Egyptian photographers were an integral part of the pioneering Harvard-MFA expedition during the first half of the twentieth century. Their photographs documented the excavations with thousands of images, as the riches of a great ancient civilization in northern Sudan were uncovered. These photographs bring to life the dramatic landscapes of the Nile Valley and the excitement of archaeological discovery.
The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands under German rule, 1940-1945 by Madeline Bunting         $45
What would have happened if the Nazis had invaded Britain? How would the British people have responded: with resistance or collaboration? Though rarely remembered today, the Nazis occupied the British Channel Islands for much of World War II. In piecing together the fragments left behind - from the love affairs between island women and German soldiers, the betrayals and black marketeering, to the individual acts of resistance - Madeleine Bunting has brought this uncomfortable episode of British history back into view.
Call Them By Their True Names: American crises (and essays) by Rebecca Solnit          $28
"The war taking place in America is a war with so many casualties that we should call it by its true name, this war with so many dead by police, by violent ex-husbands and partners and lovers, by people pursuing power and profit at the point of a gun or just shooting first and figuring out who they hit later."
How to Build a Boat by Jonathan Gornall      $40
When Jonathan Gornall decided to build a wooden boat for his newborn daughter, he had no experience and no practical skills. This is an account of what he learned about himself and about the world, emotionally as well as practically. 
>> Gornall on Radio NZ
The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, betrayal, and the quest for the earth's ultimate trophy by Paige Williams         $38
Williams uses the story of fossil enthusiast Eric Prokopi to illuminate the murky world of modern fossil hunting in this fascinating account. The story begins with Prokopi’s discovery, around age five, of a fossilized shark tooth off the coast of Florida, which sparked a lifelong fascination with prehistoric life. Prokopi’s passion led him to take a cataloguing position with the Florida Museum of Natural History, and later to teach himself how to prepare fossils for exhibition. Williams carries this tale through Prokopi’s starting a business to sell his acquisitions, to his prosecution in 2012 by the federal government for smuggling into the U.S. and auctioning off Tarbosaurus bones deemed the rightful property of Mongolia, where they were found.
Literary Landscapes: Charting the worlds of classic literature       $55
What can finding out more about the places in which books are set help us to appreciate those books more deeply? Well illustrated and documented. 

Lasting Impressions: The story of New Zealand's newspapers, 1840-1920 by Ian F. Grant        $70
A work of stupendous detail, scale and research. 
The Murderer's Ape by Jacob Wegelius      $19
Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, she's an extraordinary individual. In overalls or in a maharaja's turban, this unique gorilla moves among humans without speaking but understands everything. She and the Chief are devoted comrades who operate a cargo boat. A job they are offered pays big bucks, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder. For Sally Jones this is the start of a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief's name. Powerful forces are working against her, and they will do anything to protect their secrets. Now in paperback.
>> Watch this
The Cake Tree in the Ruins by Akiyuki Nosaka         $28
In 1945, Akiyuki Nosaka watched the Allied firebombing of Kobe kill his adoptive parents, and then witnessed his sister starving to death. The shocking and memorable stories of The Cake Tree in the Ruins are based on his own experiences as a child in Japan during the Second World War.
Once and Forever by Kenji Miyazawa        $35
Miyazawa's whimsical, sly and enchanting stories have earned him comparison with Robert Walser
Social Mobility, And its enemies by Lee Elliot Major and Stephen Machin      $28
This book analyses research into how social mobility has changed in Britain over the years, the shifting role of schools and universities in creating a fairer future, and the key to what makes some countries and regions richer in opportunities, bringing a clearer understanding of what works and how we can better shape our future.

Bogdanović by Bogdanović: Yugoslav memorials through the eyes of their architect by Bogdan Bogdanović      $65
Bogdan Bogdanovic (1922-2010) was a Yugoslav architect, theorist, professor and a one-time mayor of Belgrade. His idiosyncratic memorials to the victims and heroes of World War II, scattered around the former Yugoslavia, continue to attract attention today, more than 25 years after the country's collapse. The monuments, cemeteries, mausoleums, memorial parks, necropolises, cenotaphs and other sites of memory Bogdanovic designed between the early 1950s and late 1970s occupy a unique place in the history of modern architecture, redrawing the boundaries between architecture, landscape and sculpture in varied and unexpected ways. 
>> See also the Spomenik Monument Database
>>Take a quick tour
No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen           $23
Felix Knutsson is nearly thirteen, lives with his mother and pet gerbil Horatio, and is brilliant at memorising facts and trivia. So far, pretty normal. But Felix and his mom Astrid have a secret- they are living in a van. Astrid promises it's only for a while until she finds a new job, and begs Felix not to breathe a word about it. So when Felix starts at a new school, he does his very best to hide the fact that most of his clothes are in storage, he only showers weekly at the community centre, and that he doesn't have enough to eat. When his friends Dylan and Winnie ask to visit, Felix always has an excuse.But Felix has a plan to turn his and Astrid's lives around- he's going to go on his favourite game show Who, What, Where, When and win the cash prize. All he needs is a little luck and a lot of brain power. From the author of We Are All Made of Molecules. 
The Element in the Room: Investigating the atomic ingredients that make up your home by  Lauren Humphrey and Mike Barfield       $35
Most of the building blocks of the universe can be found around the house.

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking       $35
How did it all begin? Can we predict the future? What is inside a black hole? Is there other intelligent life in the universe? Will artificial intelligence outsmart us? How do we shape the future? Will we survive on Earth? Should we colonise space? Is time travel possible? Can we receive instruction from beyond the grave? 
Tin by Pádraig Kenny     $19
In an alternative England of the 1930s where the laws of mechanics govern even the most talented engineers, a mismatched group of mechanicals want nothing more than to feel human. Under the guardianship of the devious and unlicensed Gregory Absalom, an engineer who creates mechanical children, they have no choice but to help him in his unlawful practice. But through his unethical work, Absalom winds up creating a loyal and lively group of friends who will go to the ends of the Earth for one another.
Children of the Furnace by Brin Murray      $26
When the Revelayshun kills his father, Wil discovers through savage inquisition that he’s marked as a Heater, one of the old-time heretics who burned up the world. But Wil holds the key to a secret: Sekkerland’s Shame, the Atrocity, is a great lie — and the Revelayshun will use fire, blood and death to hide the truth.
Hitler's American Friends: The Third Reich's supporters in the United States by Bradley W. Hart        $45
Until the attack on Pearl Harbor, America was deeply, dangerously divided. This book exposes the antagonists who sought to protect and promote Hitler, leave Europeans (and especially European Jews) to fend for themselves, and elevate the Nazi regime. 

La Boca Loca: Mexican cooking for New Zealanders by Lucas Putnam and Marianne Elliott     $50
Fresh, authentic dishes from the Wellington restaurant. 
What Does the Crocodile Say? by Eva Montanari     $22
The first day of starting school is hard for everyone, even for a crocodile. And on top of this, there are just so many sounds and noises to be heard! How does a little Crocodile deal with it all?
>> Someone turns the pages