Saturday 23 February 2019

What have we been reading this week?
Find out in our latest NEWSLETTER.

BOOKS @ VOLUME #116 (23.2.19)

Our Book of the Week this week is Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Booker Prize winner Marlon James, a remarkable fusion of African mythology, history and fantasy.  
" Black Leopard, Red Wolf  is the kind of novel I never realized I was missing until I read it. A dangerous, hallucinatory, ancient Africa, which becomes a fantasy world as well-realized as anything Tolkien made, with language as powerful as Angela Carter's." -  Neil Gaiman 
>> The book is the first in the 'Dark Star' trilogy. 
>> A Brief History of Seven Killings won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. 


Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James   {Reviewed by STELLA}
What to make of Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf? With comparisons to Tolkien’s Middle Earth, George R.R.Martin’s Game of Thrones (even James has jokingly dubbed the trilogy the 'African Game of Thrones') and accolades from Neil Gaiman it’s daunting before you even open the cover. Marlon James’ Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings blew your mind with its slang, its violence, its trippy dialogue and complex political machinations. It was an incredible piece of work that confronted readers, leaving some bewildered and others startled. Black Leopard, Red Wolf is far from this Jamaican world: it is the African epic fantasy that has not previously been written. Marlon James gives us a complex tempest of a story. At its centre is Tracker (a hunter), hired for his brilliant nose, able to track - one would say compelled to track - by his incredible sense of smell. Tracker is a loner, devoid of family (he has forsaken family, in fact even killed some of his kin - those who have wronged him), suspicious of people’s motives, yet drawn to danger and curious about others, especially those who dwell on the fringes of society. Tracker is also our narrator. We meet him imprisoned, confessing his crimes or beguiling his Inquisitor with stories. For this is a novel of stories and intrigue - stories that beget tales that in turn tell us more stories. At the heart of this tempest is a quest to find a child, and this quest pushes Tracker into the company of a group of mercenaries who are employed for this task. Twisting and turning through the world of Tracker - a world with his love/hate relationship to Leopard (a being who moves from leopard to beast with a barely a breath) - this is the story his jealousy of Leopard’s young bow man, of witches and anti-witches, of mingi children cast out, hunted and protected, of creatures that are both male and female, both human and mythic, of magical forests and bewitched lands, of ancient lands and power-hungry overlords and slavers, of cruelty and deceit, loyalty and betrayal. In a small part of this epic, the hyena women capture Tracker. They heckle him, desire him and piss on him with their long cocks, wish to devour him, kill him and free him. Torture and taunting is their real pleasure even as they argue among themselves - yet are they even real? (his missing eye is all that reveals to him that they probably are). And the tales keep coming at the reader. Complex, convoluted and endlessly fascinating, this work is oddly compelling and will have you turning the pages despite its violence, revulsion and cruelty. For alongside these elements are the strange machinations of the human heart, the desire to right wrongs, to absolve guilt with sacrifice or endangerment, to desire others, to be sensual, to overturn corruption and to be free from power structures enforced by others. Add to this some smart-arse characters, spiky female characters (mostly witches or other agents of spells and magic) and sparking dialogue that hums with tension and humour, and you will admire the first book in this trilogy - a trilogy that is laced with African mythology, ancient tales and a hallucinatory natural world which will have you spinning as well as intrigued.  

River by Esther Kinsky (translated by Iain Galbraith)   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
The prose of Esther Kinsky’s River, flowing as it does both over the surface of and, perhaps more slowly and tentatively but just as surely, in the unseen depths of various kinds of personal, cultural and fluvial sediment, provides the most precisely detailed record of the vague impressions that form the majority of our experience of place that you could hope to read. All sediment being primarily a temporal phenomenon, or, rather, both the primal and ultimate intermixing of physical and temporal phenomena, the effect of Kinsky’s book, comprised as it is of an immense amount of highly specific detail borne in exquisite prose (exquisitely translated by Iain Galbraith), is to immerse us in a sort of generalised past from which specific pasts arise and return, always subservient to the erosive force of the general. The novel is intensely personal but we learn few biographical details about the narrator, intent as she as at looking outward, at observing her surroundings, at recording, with words and camera or collected objects, the specifics of the world she finds herself in. It seems that some loss has caused her to move, excising herself from her old London life “just as one might cut a figure out of a landscape or group photo,” to a small temporary flat in the northeast of London, near the banks of the River Lea before it empties into the Thames, and it seems that her looking outward draws both her and our attention away from her unspecified loss, circling around it, both addressing and avoiding it. She is detached but not yet ready to leave. “Again and again during those wind-buffeted weeks, I picked up my battered suitcase with the intention of setting off on a journey. On each occasion, however, I turned back. Barely had I set foot outside the front door when the journey seemed too burdensome. … Few things are sadder than an eagerly anticipated coastline that turns out to be dismal: blurred outlines, the inconclusive discontinuance of the flat land, charmless villages where the only thing happening is washing flapping in the wind, and the silt-bound, sea-filled boats. After a while I learned to roam without thoughts of travel or a suitcase in my hand: I made a home for myself by walking, and casting my eyes with ever increasing dedication upon the unremarkable things that lay unheeded by the wayside, things lost and not found, things left behind, unclaimed, thrown aside, going to rack and ruin, beyond retrieval or recognition.” A river is antagonistic to order, is bordered by “interstitial wildernesses”, places that are contested by the solid and the fluid, the populated and the wild, the permanent and the impermanent, zones of “dislocation, confusion and unpredictability in a world that craves order.” The narrator walks the banks of the River Lea, through places not quite in the city but not quite free of it either, wastelands both rural and industrial, intensely interested in the minutiae of the physical and the human environments but withholding herself from both. The interstitial nature of the river is temporal as much as physical and the narrator is feels the ongoing attrition ensuing from past traumas, her own and others’. “Here in London the reasons for erasing traces of the past may have been different from those in the country of my childhood, but the unhappiness that inhabited the drab chasms between the houses looked remarkably similar in both.” The equivalence of intense attention given to what the narrator observes and to what she remembers, to the Lea and to other rivers, to her own inclinations and to the actions of others, corrodes the objectivity of observation and demonstrates that observation and memory are, perhaps surprisingly, mutually antagonistic. Her observations are very precise, their subjects entirely particular and not representative and thus cumulatively more and more interesting, the details becoming more and more specific until the reader finds they have lost their footing and have been carried somewhere beyond truth (the disconcerting detail of the aged circus performer, the dystopian radio station or the man borne aloft by the wind are examples of this). A clever novelist and a watchful reader both know the effect of detail on the experience of reading: detail both supplies a simulacrum of authenticity and controls the pace of experience; in other words, detail has both a physical and a temporal effect. Kinsky’s book is very much *about* detail-as-river: how we approach and follow text, how we surrender to being carried along by it, or alongside it, how the onward flow of text affects us both consciously and subconsciously, both willingly and against our will, both above and beneath our notice. Details can make the truth slippery, but often a truth that has slipped away can only be grasped through residual details. Must it always be the case that the closer we attend, the less we recognise? The people the narrator observes in her neighbourhood are all outsiders in their own ways (as she is in hers): Hasidic Jews, Croatians, immigrants from Eastern Europe or Africa, Gypsies, people caught somehow out of their own time or place. For all of them, memory is a form of erasure. “Every river is a border. It informs our view of what is other, forcing us to stop in our tracks and take in the opposite side. [But] does the water carry something away with it? Isn’t it saying that what we really belong to is the gaze toward the other side?” Kinsky’s obsession with the outward gaze that is necessary to observation (and to one’s own invisibility), extends to the qualities of light upon which gaze is dependent in both its objective and subjective aspects. The narrator photographs not so much scenes on the banks of the River Lea as the shadows and hazes and vaguenesses that make those scenes uncertain. Objectivity, taken to its extreme, reveals itself to be hardly objective at all. Light is corrosive to sight and is, in the end, a cause of blindness.  

Friday 22 February 2019

Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin              $42
Fascinating and well-written investigations of the fraught interface between the personal and the collective, springing from an interrogation of five axioms: 'Give Me a Child Before the Age of 7 and I'll Give You the (Wo)Man', 'History Repeats Itself...', 'Those Who Forget the Past are Condemned to Repeat It', 'You Can't Enter The Same River Twice', and 'Time Heals All Wounds' - finding all to be both true and untrue, helpful and unhelpful, liberating and restricting. 
>>The drowned and the saved
Isinglass by Martin Edmond          $33
A man is washed ashore on the Australian coast and ends up in the Darwin detention centre. He doesn't speak, but paints a dream city on the wall of his cell. When finished, he utters the single word: 'Isinglass'. Who is he? What is his story? Edmond's beautifully written and widely resonant novel is an indictment of Australia's desert gulag.

To Leave with the Reindeer by Olivia Rosenthal      $34
The life of a girl progressing through womanhood is contrasted with the lives of animals domesticated or affected by humans. Both humans and animals are imprisoned, raised, educated and protected, both formed and deformed by society. What would be the price of freedom? 
2018 PEN Translates Award winner. 

Proleterka by Fleur Jaeggy       $30
The fifteen-year-old protagonist and her distant, financially ruined, yet somehow beloved father, Johannes, take a cruise together to Greece on the SS Proleterka. With a strange telescopic perspective, narrated from the day she suddenly decides she would like to receive her father’s ashes, our heroine recounts her youth. Her remarried mother, cold and far away, allowed the father only rare visits with the child who was stashed away with relatives or at a school for girls. On board the SS Proleterka, she has a violent, carnal schooling with the sailors. Mesmerized by the desire to be experienced, she crisply narrates her trysts as well as her near-total neglect of her father. 
"'Incorruptible crystal' is an apt description of Jaeggy's style. Her sentences are hard and compact, more gem than flesh. Images appear as flashes, discontinuous, arresting, then gone. This feels appropriate for a writer who is a 'stranger' and an 'enemy' to the familial." - Sheila Heti, The New Yorker
Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford          $32
Ada, a girl who hasn’t gone quite to plan, and Father live a quiet life together, in a clearing in the woods outside of town. They spend their years tending to local Cures – the human folk who come to them, cautiously, with various ailments, and for whom they care little. 
Ada embarks on a disquieting relationship with a local Cure named Samson, much to the displeasure of her father and Samson’s widowed, pregnant sister. When Ada is forced to choose between her old and new lives, what she does will change the town – and The Ground itself – forever.
"Rainsford writes beautifully with a lyrical, earthy prose which is evocative and eviscerating yet mesmerising. She gives Ada a unique voice which fills and haunts the narrative. One of the strangest books I’ve read in a long time, it is utterly compelling and will linger, uninvited, in your consciousness long after you’ve turned the last page." – Irish Independent
"Reminiscent of the work of Alexandra Kleeman, Carmen Maria Machado, and Han Kang, it’s a sinister, sensual, haunted book." – Lithub
Failure ('Documents of Modern Art') edited by Lisa Le Feuvre      $54
Can failure be a mode of resistance in an increasingly intolerable world? To what extent can failure be seen as a productive, or at least dynamic, mode? Can any new space be claimed for art without doubt, error, and the refusal of (or recognition of the insufficiency of) existing dogma? Can failure be a strategy of cultural production as well as a world view? A stimulating anthology of art writing and cultural theory. 
Checkpoint by David Albahari         $27
Atop a hill, deep in the forest, an army unit is assigned to a checkpoint. The commander doesn't know where they are, what border they're protecting, or why. Their map is useless and the radio crackles with a language no one can recognize. A soldier is found dead in a latrine and the unit vows vengeance--but the enemy is unknown. Refugees arrive seeking safe passage to the other side of the checkpoint, however the biggest threat might be the soldiers themselves.

The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge        $19
Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma's cabin and became blind in one eye. Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor - only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose. 
"A stunning intermingling of Norse mythology, horror, and an unusual coming of age. Hauntingly beautiful descriptions, juxtaposed against a ramping relentless sense of peril." - Bookbag
Bear and Wolf by David Salmieri       $40
A young bear meets a young wolf. Their worlds may be different, but they are in some way aligned. A beautifully illustrated book. 
>> Take a peek
Origins: How the Earth made us by Lewis Dartnell        $40
Everything we do is the manifestation of a vast web of cause and effect reaching right back to the most primal forces of the planet. Dartnell traces our behaviours back through our genetic and cultural evolution to the engine houses of the Earth. 

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker       $35
A town is struck by a strange epidemic of perpetual sleeping. The sleeping women's brains are very active - what are they dreaming? 
"Frighteningly powerful, beautiful, and uncanny, The Dreamers is a love story and also a horror story. A symphonic achievement, alternating intimate moments with a panoramic capture of a crisis in progress." - Karen Russell
Egon Schiele: The making of a collection by Stella Rollig and Kerstin Jesse        $85
An interesting and in depth look into the Schiele's work, through the collection at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. 
The Demon in the Machine: How hidden webs of information are solving the mystery of life by Paul Davies         $40
Davies argues that life as we know it should be considered as a means of information storage. Does the way in which information is structured tell us more than the content? 

Waitangi: A living treaty by Matthew Wright         $40
View the treaty as a foundational document, the significance of which has changed through history. 
>> Wright speaks

Life with a Capital L by D.H. Lawrence      $26
Essays chosen and introduced by Geoff Dyer. Subjects include art, morality, obscenity, songbirds, Italy, Thomas Hardy, the death of a porcupine in the Rocky Mountains and the narcissism of photographing ourselves.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas          $20
The highly anticipated new YA novel from the author of The Hate U Give. Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty.
>> Angie Thomas answers a few questions
Germany's Hidden Crisis: Social decline in the heart of Europe by Oliver Nachtwey         $35
The gears the German 'elevator society' have ground to a halt. In the absence of the social mobility of yesterday, widespread social exhaustion and anxiety have emerged across mainstream society. Nachtwey analyses the reasons for this social rupture in post-war German society and investigates the conflict potential emerging as a result. 

Nobody's Looking at You by Janet Malcolm      $38
Previously uncompiled pieces from 'the queen of not-nice', many from the interface between politics and the arts, mostly from The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books
"Janet Malcolm is a ruthless, dazzling journalist." - Guardian
>> "Why have a library and not use it?"
Spomeniks by Jonathan Jimenez      $45
A wonderful photographic record of these bizarre brutalist Yugoslavian monuments, built from the 1960s in often remote locations and now often abandoned to nature. 
>> Spomenik Monument Database
Past Caring: Women, work and emotion edited by Barbara Brookes, Jane McCabe and Angela Wanhalla         $40
Society is held together by various forms of care, which are hard to quantify and hence often omitted from historical and political analyses. This book seeks to redress that omission. 
The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble       $23
Ella and her brother Emery are alone in a city that's starving to death. If they are going to survive, they must get away, upcountry, to find Emery's mum. But how can two kids travel such big distances across a dry, barren, and dangerous landscape? Well, they've got five big dogs and a dry-land dogsled... From the author of How to Bee, winner of the 2018 Esther Glen award for NZ children's fiction. 
The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the race to light the world by Mike Winchell         $33
AC v. DC - who will win?
Hitler's British Traitors: The secret history of spies, saboteurs and fifth columnists by Tim Tate      $45
The British far right supported Hitler, even after the outbreak of the second world war. Drawing on recently declassified archival material, Tate offers a reappraisal of their sympathies, revealing the widespread existence of a fifth column in Britain. 
Beyond Weird: Why everything you thought you knew about quantum physics is different by Philip Ball         $28
 "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics," Richard Feynman wrote in 1965 - the year he was awarded the Nobel prize in physics for his work on quantum mechanics. Over the past decade, the enigma of quantum mechanics has come into sharper focus. We now realise that quantum mechanics is less about particles and waves, uncertainty and fuzziness, than a theory about information- about what can be known and how. The quantum world isn't a different world- it is our world, and if anything deserves to be called 'weird', it's us. This exhilarating book is about what quantum maths really means - and what it doesn't mean.
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders       $25
January is a dying planet--divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk. But life inside the cities is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside. Sophie, a student and reluctant revolutionary, is supposed to be dead, after being exiled into the night. Saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice, Sophie vows to stay hidden from the world, hoping she can heal. But fate has other plans...
"This generation's Ursula Le Guin." - Andrew Sean Greer
Tobermory, And other stories by Saki        $19
Subtlety and wit drawn with a scalpel by this master of the short story. 

The Destiny Thief: Essays on writing, writers and life by Richard Russo        $40

"Russo the nonfiction writer is a lot like Russo the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. He is affably disagreeable, wry, idiosyncratic, vulnerably bighearted, a craftsman of lubricated sentences." - The New York Times 

The Limits to Capital by David Harvey      $33

The Limits to Capital provides a broad theoretical guide to the history and geography of capitalist development. In this new edition, Harvey updates his classic text with a substantial discussion of the turmoil in world markets today. In his analyses of 'fictitious capital' and 'uneven geographical development' Harvey takes the reader step by step through layers of crisis formation, beginning with Marx's controversial argument concerning the falling rate of profit, moving through crises of credit and finance, and closing with an analysis of geopolitical and geographical considerations.
What's Your Type? The type dating game by Sarah Hyndman      $30
Learn about fonts, and about your friends, with this enjoyable card game featuring 50 fonts to date, ditch or friend. 
>> Type tasting
How We Win: A guide to nonviolent direct action campaigning by George Lakey        $28

Saturday 16 February 2019

Read our latest NEWSLETTER!

BOOKS @ VOLUME  #115  (16.2.19)

Dirt by Gemma Walsh, Katie Kerr, et al      
Our Book of the Week is an experimental cookbook that digs into the relationship between food and words. Twelve earthy recipes from chef Gemma Walsh are accompanied by a collection of stories, poems and conversations from some of New Zealand’s contemporary writers, including Courtney Sina Meredith, Lana Lopesi, Rosabel Tan, Dominic Huey, Vanessa Crofskey, Natasha Matila-Smith, Owen Connors, Liam Jacobson, Amy Weng, Reem Musa, Gabi Lardies and Sam Walsh.
>>Preview here. 
>> Gemma Walsh and Katie Kerr converse
>> Recipes by Gemma Walsh.
>> Find out more about Gloria Books
>> An interview with Katie Kerr, the designer of Gloria Books
>> Studio Katie Kerr.
>> Dwelling in the margins
>> "Due to algorithms, our ability to access unexpected content has become narrower. The bookstore becomes one of the few places where this is disrupted – where you can find content that wasn’t chosen for you by a computer."

The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill  {Reviewed by STELLA}
William Grill, the author and illustrator of Shacklelton's Journey, brings us another delight, The Wolves of Currumpaw. This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a wolf, Old Lobo, the wolf that no one could capture. This is a famous and fabled wolf-hunting story of The Old West, and Lobo was revered by the peoples of the Currumpaw Valley, where he was known as The King. As settlers moved across North America developing farming, wolves roamed too, attacking their cattle. Lobo and his pack of wolves were known far and wide, a pack that moved through the night, uncapturable and wreaking havoc for the ranchers. Many tried and failed, great hunters were shamed by the clever Lobo who avoided the traps, wasn’t fooled by the disguised poisons and evaded the wolf-hounds and guns, time and time again. In 1893, a respected naturalist and hunter, Ernest Thompson Seton, left New York in a bid to rid the ranchers of Old Lobo and his pack. This wasn’t as easy as Seton thought it would be and after many failed attempts he noticed another wolf, the beautiful she-wolf Blanca, and this ultimately leads to the capturing of Old Lobo. This is a beautifully told story with stunning illustrations, which also reflects on the impact of Seton’s hunt for Lobo, his regret at his success and his growing awareness of the wilderness - the importance of wild places and the animals that belong in them. 


The Notebook by Ágota Kristóf  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
In an unnamed country [Hungary] during an unnamed war [WWII], twin brothers from the Big Town are deposited with their unknown grandmother in the Little Town [near the German border]. Their belongings are immediately taken and sold by their grandmother, apart from their father’s big dictionary, which they use to write their story in the big notebook they demand from the local bookseller on the basis of ‘absolute need’. They set rules for their writing: “The composition must be true. We must describe what is, what we see, what we hear, what we do. For example, it is forbidden to write, ‘Grandmother is like a witch,’ but we are allowed to write ‘People call Grandmother a witch’. We would write, ‘We eat a lot of walnuts’, and not, ‘We love walnuts,’ because the word ‘love’ is not a reliable word. Words that define feelings are very vague. It is better to avoid using them and stick to the description of objects, human beings, and oneself, that is to say, to the faithful description of facts.” The twins describe how they perform ‘exercises to toughen the body’ – hurting themselves and each other until they no longer cry when they are hit, and ‘exercises to toughen the mind’ – subjecting each other to verbal abuse until they no longer blush and tremble when people insult them, and also repeating the words of affection their mother used to use to them until their eyes no longer fill with tears: “By force of repetition, these words gradually lose their meaning, and the pain they carry in them is assuaged.” Unable to be separated, controlled or opposed, the twins practise the only virtue left in a world rendered amoral by war: survival. ‘Absolute need’ is the basis of their interactions with others: they demand boots from the cobbler so they can go about in the winter, they blackmail the priest on behalf of the unfortunate Harelip, they comply with the masochistic requests of the Foreign Officer because of his ‘absolute need’ (which is no less absolute for being psychological), they wreak disfiguring revenge on the priest’s housekeeper because of her mocking of the passing [Jewish] Human Herd’s absolute need for bread. The narrators’ dual identity, the pared-back matter-of-fact prose without metaphor or superfluity, the rigour with which small and horrendous matters are treated with flat equivalence make this book powerful, moving (while remaining unsentimental) and memorable.

Friday 15 February 2019


For the Good Times by David Keenan        $33
Keenan's madcap and brutal novel hinges on the comradery between the members of a Provisional IRA cell in Belfast in the 1970s, whose madcap and brutal activities include kidnap, violence, arguing about the relative merits of Perry Como and Frank Sinatra, and running a comics shop. Interesting to read in comparison with Anna Burns's Milkman, also set in Catholic Belfast in the 1970s. 
>> Probably an interview with Keenan

Rag by Maryse Meijer          $25
"These stories are extremely good. I could reference masters of the particular as far-flung as Thomas Bernhard or Lucia Berlin, but the resonance of Maryse Meijer's ultraprecise prose is unique." - Dennis Cooper
Collected Poems by Fleur Adcock         $50
A handsome edition collecting poems from 1960 to the present. 
"Fleur Adcock has written some of the best poems in world literature." - The Spinoff
Everyone Walks Away by Eva Lindström      $30
Frank feels so left out that he goes home and cries into a saucepan. If he makes jam of his tears will everyone come to tea? From the author/illustrator of the also-wonderful My Dog Mouse
There Is No Harbour by Dinah Hawkin          $25
"The completion of the poem has not led me to any sense of resolution. It has led to something less measurable, perhaps more valuable-greater clarity, particularly of the depth of injustice Maori have endured in Taranaki. At the same time it has strengthened my attachment and my gratitude to my great and great-great grandparents, whom I know as essentially good people. And it has led me back to Parihaka: to profound respect for Te Whiti and Tohu, the art of leadership, the art of passive resistance, and their refusal of human war." - Dinah Hawken

We Were Strangers: Stories inspired by Unknown Pleasures edited by Richard Hirst         $38
Ten new stories, one inspired by each of the songs on Joy Division's most intense and affecting album. Sophie Mackintosh, David Gaffney, Jessie Greengrass, Toby Litt, Eley Williams, Nicholas Royle, Jen Ashworth, Zoe McLean, Zoe Lambert, Louise Marr and Anne Billson. 
"United by some unleashed kinetic force from long ago, these collected stories are achingly modern and fully embrace contemporary anxieties and preoccupations. They confront us with intense feelings and show us places we may not always wish to be, but – just like Joy Division themselves – they have the collective power to stay firmly rooted in our minds." - The Guardian
>> 'I Remember Nothing.'
>> Sophie Mackintosh on writing her story for the book
How to Be a Good Creature: A memoir in thirteen animals by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Rebecca Green       $45

Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. To research her books, such as the remarkable The Soul of an Octopus, Montgomery has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet's rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy's life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets. Beautifully, quirkily illustrated. 
Not Working: Why we have to stop by Josh Cohen         $37
In a culture that tacitly coerces us into blind activity, the art of doing nothing is disappearing. Inactivity can induce lethargy and indifference, but is also a condition of imaginative freedom and creativity. Cohen explores the paradoxical pleasures of inactivity, and considers four faces of inertia - the burnout, the slob, the daydreamer and the slacker. Could apathy help us to live more fulfilling lives? 
Passing for Human by Liana Finck          $48
A subtle and perceptive graphic memoir of a young artist struggling against what is expected of her - as an artist, as a woman, and as a human generally. 
"Passing for Human is one of the most extraordinary memoirs I've ever read. It's a story about becoming a person, about creativity, about love, all told with originality and grace. An amazing, amazing book." - Roz Chast
>> Finck in Vogue

Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman         $32
It's the 1950s, and Lorrie is unimpressed when her family moves to the remote Scottish island where her grandad runs a whisky distillery. She befriends Sylvie, the shy girl next door. Yet fun-loving Lorrie isn't sure Sylvie's is the friendship she wants to win. As the adults around them struggle to keep their lives on an even keel, the two young women are drawn into a series of events that leave the small town wondering who exactly Sylvie is and what strange gift she is hiding.
"A breath of fresh air." - The Irish Times
>> Read an excerpt
>> "I ate a Kit Kat the wrong way once."
>> Read Thomas's review of Don't Try This At Home
Edinburgh by Alexander Chee     $22
A Korean-American boy tries to deal with the legacy of abuse in Chee's stunning 2001 debut novel, which begins in Maine when young Aphias Zee joins a boys choir.
"Every word makes me ache. Written with exquisite empathy and grace." - Roxane Gay
"Singularly beautiful and psychologically harrowing. One of the best American novels of this century." - Boston Globe

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee       $25
The author of The Queen of the Night delivers a series of superb essays investigating his development as a person and as a writer and activist, intimating how we form our identities both in life and in art. New edition. 
"Alexander Chee is the very best kind of essayist, a boon companion in good times and bad, whose confiding voice you'd follow anywhere, just for the wonderful feeling of being understood like never before." - Charles D'Ambrosio
"Masterful." - Roxanne Gay

"Wonderful." - Rebecca Solnit
1982, Janine by Alasdair Gray         $23
"An unforgettably challenging book about power and powerlessness, men and women, masters and servants, small countries and big countries, Alasdair Gray’s exploration of the politics of pornography has lost none of its power to shock. 1982, Janine is a searing portrait of male need and inadequacy, as explored via the lonely sexual fantasies of Jock McLeish, failed husband, lover and business man." - Will Self (in the introduction to this new edition)
"This is one of the most underrated, most stupidly unread novels in the world." - LitReactor 
>> "My best novel."
The Photographer at Sixteen: The death and life of a fighter by George Szirtes      $35
In July 1975, George Szirtes' mother, Magda, died in an ambulance on her way to hospital after attempting to take her own life. She was fifty-one years old. This memoir is an attempt to make sense of what came before, to re-construct who Magda Szirtes really was. The book moves from her death, spooling backwards through her years as a mother, through sickness and exile in England, the family's flight from Hungary in 1956, her time in two concentration camps, her girlhood as an ambitious photographer, and her vanished family in Transylvania.
Goliath by Tom Gauld        $34
Goliath of Gath isn't much of a fighter. He would pick admin work over patrolling in a heartbeat, to say nothing of his distaste for engaging in combat. Nonetheless, at the behest of the king, he finds himself issuing a twice-daily challenge to the Israelites: Choose a man. Let him come to me that we may fight. Astounding graphic novel. 

Last Days in Old Europe: Trieste '79, Vienna '85, Prague '89 by Richard Bassett      $55
Mitteleuropa in this period of change still retained the deep impressions of the periods of change that had gone before. 

I Am So Clever by Mario Ramos       $20
Who is cleverer, the Wolf or Little Red Riding Hood? 
Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami        $6
A short story published to mark Murakami's 70th birthday.

Social Forms: A short history of political art by Christian Viveros-Fauné         $48
Highlighting different moments of crisis and how these are reflected and preserved through fifty crucial artworks, from Francisco de Goya's 'The Disasters of War' (1810-1820) to David Hammons's 'In the Hood' (1993), Social Forms asks how to make art in the age of Brexit, Trump, and the refugee and climate crises. 

Text Me When You Get Home: The evolution and triumph of modern female friendship by Kayleen Schaeffer        $30

Seeing Further: The story of science and the Royal Society edited by Bill Bryson       $25

Since its inception in 1660, the Royal Society has pioneered scientific discovery and exploration. Includes contributions from Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, David Attenborough, Martin Rees and Richard Fortey.
Merchants of Truth: Inside the news revolution by Jill Abramson       $38
What relevance are the journalistic ideals of truth and objectivity in a world increasingly unhinged by changes in the way that people access information (or "information")? Abramson takes us behind the scenes at four media titans during the most volatile years in news history. Two are maverick upstarts: BuzzFeed, the brain-child of virtuoso clickbait scientist Jonah Perretti, and VICE, led by the booze-fuelled anarcho-hipster Shane Smith. The two others are among the world's most venerable news institutions: The New York Times, owned and run for generations by the Sulzberger dynasty, and The Washington Post, also family-owned but soon to be bought by the world's richest merchant of all, Jeff Bezos. 
The Globotics Upheaval: Globalisation, robotics and the future of work by Richard Baldwin        $38
Robotics and virtual work practices will mean a drastic shift in employment structures and wealth distribution. Who will control the changes, and to who will benefit from these changes? 
Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel        $23
A carnivalesque travelogue that features the passengers of the Lynceus, a vessel shipwrecked by a hurricane in the fictional land of Ponukele on a journey from Marseilles to Buenos Aires. To entertain themselves while waiting for a release ransom to be paid to the local drag-clad Emperor Talou, the crew of serendipitously skilled performers (including a historian, a ballerina, a fencing champion, a pyrotechnic, and an ichthyologist, among others), known collectively as the 'Incomparables', stage a gala. Readers should be prepared for an Africa unlike any they would likely visit in reality. First published in 1910. Unusual.