Under Glass by Gregory Kan $25
"The things that are really big and really close are too big and too close to be seen. If the mind were a place, what might it look like?"
A superb new collection from the immensely talented Kan in the form of a dialogue between a series of prose poems tracking a progression through mysteriously affecting landscapes, and a series of verse poems compulsively trying to make sense of this experience, the whole forming a kind of zone where inner and outer worlds contest for definition.
Hazel and the Snails by Nan Blanchard $22
Six-year-old Hazel tends her colony of shoebox snails while observing, with varying degrees of understanding, her father's illness and final decline. A nicely written New Zealand junior chapter book.
Thomas Bernhard: 3 Days from the film by Ferry Radax $45
A beautifully produced volume of film stills and quotes from Radax's stunning minimalist 1970 film of Bernhard sitting on a park bench and (not) giving an account of his life, ideas and writing methods.
>> An excerpt from the film.
John Scott: Works by David Straight $70
Featuring 25 buildings by this outstanding yet hitherto underdocumented architect, with essays from Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, Hana Scott, Bill McKay and Gregory O'Brien.
Because a Woman's Heart is Like a Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean by Sugar Magnolia Wilson $25
"A reading treasure trove that shifts form and musical key; there are letters, confessions, flights of fancy, time shifts, bright images, surprising arrivals and compelling gaps. Lines stand out, other lines lure you in to hunt for the missing pieces. There is grief, resolve, reflection and terrific movement." - Paula Green
>> An interview with SMW.
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi $38
A boundlessly imagined novel using fairy tale tropes, talking dolls, immigrants from forgotten countries and brushes with death to create a compelling and deeply satisfying story.
"A writer of sentences so elegant that they gleam." - Ali Smith
"Exhilarating. A wildly imagined, head-spinning, deeply intelligent novel." - The New York Times Book Review
"Is there an author working today who is comparable to Helen Oyeyemi? She might be the only contemporary author for whom it’s not hyperbole to claim she’s sui generis, and I don’t think it’s a stretch either to say she’s a genius, as opposed to talented or newsworthy or relevant or accomplished, each of her novels daring more in storytelling than the one before. After reading any of her novels or her short story collection, you emerge as if from a dream, your sense of how things work pleasurably put out of order. If we read procedurals to enjoy a sense of order restored, everything put it in its place, we read Oyeyemi for the opposite reason, yet she is no less suspenseful." - Los Angeles Review of Books
>> A twist on 'Hansel and Gretel'.
Hidden Light: Early Canterbury and West Coast photographs by Ken Hall and Haruhiko Sameshima $50
Remarkable and often surprising images of both people and places.
Dead Letters: Censorship and subversion in New Zealand, 1914-1920 by Jared Davidson $35
Starting from an archive of letters that were intercepted and opened during and just after World War 1, this book provides fascinating insight into the types of persons considered a 'threat' to the country in this period: a feisty German-born socialist, a Norwegian watersider, an affectionate Irish nationalist, a love-struck miner, an aspiring Maxim Gorky, a cross-dressing doctor, a nameless rural labourer, an avid letter writer with a hatred of war, and two mystical dairy farmers with a poetic bent. What is remarkable is the extent of state surveillance in this period, a time when the rights to privacy and freedom of expression were seldom considered.
Salt and Time: Recipes from a modern Russian kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina $45
"Often we need distance and time, both to see things better and to feel closer to them. This is certainly true of the food of my home country, Russia - or Siberia, to be exact. When I think of Siberia, I hear the sound of fresh snow crunching beneath my feet. Today, whenever I crush sea salt flakes between my fingers as I cook, I think of that sound. In this book I feature recipes that are authentic to Siberia, classic Russian flavour combinations and my modern interpretations. You will find dishes from the pre-revolutionary era and the Soviet days, as well as contemporary approaches - revealing a cuisine that is vibrant, nourishing, exciting and above all relevant no matter the time or the place." Nicely done.
Nature's Mutiny: How the Little Ice Age transformed the West and shaped the present by Philipp Blom $50
"Europe where the sun dares scarce appear For freezing meteors and congealed cold." - Christopher Marlowe
From the end of the sixteenth century and through the seventeenth, Europe was profoundly altered by a drop in temperatures that affected the ways in which societies sustained and maintained themselves. Blom's excellent history of the impacts of that period of climate change shows how apocalyptic weather patterns not only destroyed entire harvests and incited mass migrations but also gave rise to the growth of European cities and the appearance of capitalism.
The Map of Knowledge: How Classical ideas were lost and found, A history in seven cities by Violet Moller $40
Moller traces the journey taken by the ideas of Euclid, Galen and Ptolemy through seven cities and over a thousand years. In it, we follow them from sixth-century Alexandria to ninth-century Baghdad, from Muslim Cordoba to Catholic Toledo, from Salerno's medieval medical school to Palermo, capital of Sicily's vibrant mix of cultures, and - finally - to Venice, where that great merchant city's printing presses would enable Euclid's geometry, Ptolemy's system of the stars and Galen's vast body of writings on medicine to spread even more widely.
The Black and the White by Geoff Cochrane $25
Cochrane built his house on the literary margins and has stayed there, lobbing his witty, irreverent, compact poems against all comers.
>> Shuker on Cochrane.
Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa $33
Abdel Latif, an old man from the Aleppo region, dies peacefully in a hospital bed in Damascus. His final wish, conveyed to his youngest son, Bolbol, is to be buried in the family plot in their ancestral village of Anabiya. Though Abdel was hardly an ideal father, and though Bolbol is estranged from his siblings, this conscientious son persuades his older brother Hussein and his sister Fatima to accompany him and the body to Anabiya, which is only a two-hour drive from Damascus.There’s only one problem: Their country is a war zone.With the landscape of their childhood now a labyrinth of competing armies whose actions are at once arbitrary and lethal, the siblings’ decision to set aside their differences and honor their father’s request quickly balloons from a minor commitment into an epic and life-threatening quest. Syria, however, is no longer a place for heroes, and the decisions the family must make along the way—as they find themselves captured and recaptured, interrogated, imprisoned, and bombed—will prove to have enormous consequences for all of them.
“Refusing to look away from its characters’ challenges, the novel is clear-eyed in its presentation of living in a war zone. Winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, Syrian author Khalifa reaches readers with a style that is straightforward, true, and profound.” —Booklist
How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton $25
Can In Search of Lost Time be read as a self-help manual (perhaps the world's longest and best-written)? De Botton certainly conveys something of the sheer enjoyment that can be had in this book that was written in a cork-lined room.
"Curious, humorous, didactic and dazzling." - New Yorker
Gunpowder and Geometry: The life of Charles Hutton, pit boy, mathematician and scientific rebel by Benjamin Wardhaugh $40
The remarkable story of the English mathematician and surveyor (1737 – 1823), a child labourer in the coal mines who became professor of mathematics at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and is remembered for his calculation of the density of the earth.
"Mathematics remains a bedrock of our society. This wonderful book goes a long way in highlighting why." - New Scientist
Lotharingia: A personal history of Europe's lost country by Simon Winder $38
In 843 AD, the three surviving grandsons of the great emperor Charlemagne met at Verdun. After years of bitter squabbles over who would inherit the family land, they finally decided to divide the territory and go their separate ways. In a moment of staggering significance, one grandson inherited the area we now know as France, another Germany and the third received the piece in between: Lotharingia. What happened to this country?
The Existential Englishman: Paris among the artists by Michael Peppiatt $55
This memoir of bohemian life chronicles Peppiatt's relationship with Paris in a series of vignettes structured around the half-dozen addresses he called home as a young art critic. Following the social and political upheavals of 1968, Peppiatt traces his precarious progress from junior editor to magazine publisher, recalling encounters with a host of figures at the heart of Parisian artistic life - from Sartre, Beckett and Cartier-Bresson to Serge Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve. All sharply observed. From the author of the revelatory Francis Bacon in Your Blood.
Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans $28
A new edition of À Rebours, the epitome of the decadent novel, written in 1884 and describing its antihero's rejection of bourgeois values and his radical aestheticism and inertia. Oscar Wilde and the wider Symbolist movement were very influenced by the book, both in their private lives (so to call them) and their artistic production (so to call it).
The Good University: What universities actually do, and why it's time for radical change by Raewyn Connell $34
Corporate models and government cuts have led to the commodification of education and a loss of purpose in the tertiary sector. Connell argues for the reacknowledgement of education as a primary social good, and for a reorganisation and refunding of universities as an expression of this.
A Wrinkle in Time: The graphic novel by Madeleine l'Engle, adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson $36
"This adaptation is fabulous for presenting a fresh vision to those familiar with the original, but it's so true to the story's soul that even those who've never read it will come away with a genuine understanding of l'Engle's ideas and heart." - Booklist
Catalonia: Recipes from Barcelona and beyond by José Pizarro $45
Bring the experience of eating in the little bars of Barcelona to your own kitchen.
The Aviator by Eugene Vodolazkin $23
A man wakes up in a hospital bed, with no idea who he is or how he came to be there. The only information the doctor shares with his patient is his name: Innokenty Petrovich Platonov. As memories slowly resurface, Innokenty begins to build a vivid picture of his former life as a young man in Russia in the early twentieth century, living through the turbulence of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. But soon, only one question remains: how can he remember the start of the twentieth century, when the pills by his bedside were made in 1999? Now in paperback.
>> What history cannot teach us.
Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany $35
In the late 1970s, in the forgotten outer suburbs, a girl has her hands in the engine of a Holden. A sinister new man has joined the family. He works as a mechanic and operates an unlicensed repair shop at the back of their block. The family is under threat. The girl reads the Holden workshop manual for guidance. She resists the man with silence, then with sabotage. She fights him at the place where she believes his heart lives – in the engine of the car.
Colour: A visual history from Newton to Pantone by Alexandra Loske $60
Traces 400 years of art through scientific discoveries, pigment development and exemplary works.
The Safest Lie by Angela Cerrito $16
It's 1940, and nine-year-old Anna Bauman and her parents are among the 300,000 Polish Jews struggling to survive the wretched conditions in the Warsaw ghetto. Anna draws the attention of a woman called Jolanta - a code name of the real-life resistance spy Irena Sendler, who smuggled hundreds of children out of the ghetto. Jolanta wants to help Anna escape, but first Anna must assume a new identity, that of Roman Catholic orphan Anna Karwolska. Whisked out of the ghetto to a Christian orphanage, Anna struggles to hide her true identity... until she slowly realizes that the most difficult part of this charade is not remembering the details of her new life, but trying not to forget the old one entirely.
Let's No-One Get Hurt by Jon Pineda $28
Fifteen-year-old Pearl lives a marginal life in a dilapidated boathouse with her father and two other adult men in the US South. Pearl, socially isolated among the scavenging adults and feeling stunted, meets Mason Boyd, son of the wealthy family who recently bought up the land she is squatting on.
"An inventive and powerful coming of age story about the search for community and all the ways our ties to one another come undone. Jon Pineda has a poet's eye for the details of this vivid, haunting landscape, and he brings it blazingly to life." - Jenny Offill
Maybe Esther by Katja Petrowskaja $25
A beautifully written and compelling account of the author's quest to discover the extent to which members of her family were submerged by the upheavals of 20th century European history. Her great-uncle, who shot a German diplomat in Moscow in 1932, was sentenced to death. Her Ukrainian grandfather disappeared during World War II and reappeared forty years later. Her great-grandmother - whose name may or may not have been Esther was too old and frail to leave Kiev when the Jews there were rounded up, and was killed by a Nazi outside her house. Now in paperback.
Faber Stories series $10 each
A nicely presented series of outstanding short stories from Kazuo Ishiguro, Djuna Barnes, Sally Rooney, Samuel Beckett, Flannery O'Connor, Robert Aickman, Edna O'Brien, P.D. James, Akhil Sharma, Sylvia Plath, and others.