Thursday 18 April 2019

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan           $37
Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In this alternative 1980s London, Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda’s assistance, he co-designs Adam’s personality. What happens when a love triangle develops between these three? 
"Intelligent mischief." - Guardian 
>> There's an algorithm for it
The Governesses by Anne Serre          $30
In a large country house, shut off from the world within a gated garden, three young women responsible for the education of a group of little boys are hanging paper lanterns for a party. Their desires, however, lie elsewhere.
"Every so often a different creature darts into view: a novel that is genuinely original - and, often, very quietly so. Call it the anglerfish of literature, after those solitary, crazy-looking lurkers in the sea's deepest trenches. The strangeness of such stories isn't just at the level of construction; it emerges from the writer's very perception of the world and seeps into the syntax. Prim and racy, seriously weird and seriously excellent, The Governesses is not a treatise but an aria, and one delivered with perfect pitch." - The New York Times
The New Me by Halle Butler         $25
30-year-old Millie is overwhelmed by her unexpressed feelings of rancour - to the extent that she cannot express or achieve anything.  "A skewering of the 21st-century American dream of self-betterment. Butler has already proven herself a master of writing about work and its discontents, the absurdity of cubicle life and office work in all of its dead ends. The New Me takes it to a new level." -The Millions
"A definitive work of millennial literature." - The New Yorker
“A dark comedy of female rage. Halle Butler is a first-rate satirist of the horror show being sold to us as Modern Femininity. She is Thomas Bernhard in a bad mood, showing us the futility of betterment in an increasingly paranoid era of self-improvement. Hilarious.” - Catherine Lacey
"Masterfully cringe-inducing. Makes the reader squirm and laugh out loud simultaneously.” —Chicago Tribune
>>Meet Halle Butler.
The Faculty of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg       $35
In April 1988, Valerie Solanas - the writer, radical feminist and would-be assassin of Andy Warhol - was discovered dead in her hotel room, in a grimy corner of San Francisco. She was 52, alone, penniless and surrounded by the typed pages of her last writings. Through imagined conversations and monologues, reminiscences and rantings, Stridsberg reconstructs this most intriguing and enigmatic of women, articulating the thoughts and fears that she struggled to express in life and giving a voice to the writer of the SCUM Manifesto.
>>Meet Valerie Solanas

What Not by Rose Macaulay           $38
A speculative novel of post-First World War eugenics and newspaper manipulation that anticipated Aldous Huxley's Brave New World by 14 years. Published in 1918, it was hastily withdrawn due to a number of potentially libellous pages, and, when re-issued, it was overshadowed by Macaulay's next two novels and never gained the attention it deserved. What Not is a lost classic of feminist wit and protest at social engineering, now republished with the suppressed pages reinstated.
"Stirring, funny, uniquely imaginative." - Guardian
>>Find out more. 
The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers      $22
From his remote moorland home, David Hartley assembles a gang of weavers and land-workers to embark upon a criminal enterprise that will capsize the economy and become the biggest fraud in British history. They are the Cragg Vale Coiners and their business is 'clipping' - the forging of coins, a treasonous offence punishable by death. When an excise officer vows to bring them down and with the industrial age set to change the face of England forever, Hartley's empire begins to crumble. Forensically assembled, The Gallows Pole is a true story of resistance and a rarely told alternative history of the North of England.
The Heavens by Sandra Newman            $33
Kate meets Ben at a party in the year 2000. As she falls asleep she feels that her world is perfect. When she wakes up the next morning as Emilia in 1593, every decision she makes will affect the chances of realising that future with Ben. 
"I can't remember when I last read something so original or sophisticated or emotionally engaging or so breathtakingly ambitious." - Kate Atkinson
Pill by Robert Bennett         $22
Pill traces the uncanny presence of psychiatric pills through science, medicine, autobiography, television, cinema, literature, and popular music. Bennett reveals modern psychopharmacology to be a brave new world in which human identities - thoughts, emotions, personalities, and selves themselves - are increasingly determined by the extraordinary powers of seemingly ordinary pills.
It's Not About the Burqa: Muslim women on faith, feminism, sexuality and race edited by Miriam Khan       $25
Article 353 by Tanguy Viel        $30
Two men go out to sea in a boat to fish for lobster and crab. When they are five miles from shore, Martial Kermeur catches his companion off guard and throws him overboard. He then calmly takes the wheel and heads back to the harbor, the noisy wake behind him blotting out the drowning man’s screams. The account of the proceedings of the trial gives us access to the back story. Where does guilt lie? Can a punishment 'fit' a crime? Is there a difference between justice and the law? 
"Sharp and memorable." - Star Tribune
Woman of the Ashes by Mia Couto         $33
A novel set during the territorial power struggles of 1890s Mozambique, alternating between the voices of Imani, a 15-year-old living in the village of Nkokolani, and Portuguese sergeant Germano de Melo, who is sent to the village to protect Portugal’s conquest. Unfamiliar with his surroundings and the local language, de Melo hires Imani and her brother, Mwanatu, to work as his translator and guard. 
"With riveting prose and thorough research, Couto paints the village as a doomed magical space where blind people can see and sighted people are blind, where dreams about the dead guide the living, where fish fall from the sky and the earth spits up weapons. There is not one dull moment." - Guardian
Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen by Mary Norris         $35
Language! Love! The wine-dark sea! Norris travels to Greece and and into the English language in search of its Greek influences. 
19th-Century Fashion in Detail by Lucy Johnston      $65
A wonderful photographic archive of period details. See also 20th-Century Fashion in Detail
My Brother's Name is Jessica by John Boyne        $21
How does Sam's life change when his older brother changes gender?

A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel         $38
Reading is the faculty that defines our species, not just the reading of texts but our instinct to find narrative in everything. 
Virusphere by Frank Ryan           $37
From the Common Cold to Ebola - why we need viruses. 

Hark by Sam Lipsyte        $33
A standup comic turns monosyllabic messiah peddling spiritualism to tech bros. What begins as a joke becomes a new faith known as Harkism.
"A hilarious lament for our times." - Guardian
The Waning Age by S.E. Grove         $23
The world is filled with adults devoid of emotion and children on the cusp of losing their feelings - of "waning" - when they reach their teens. Natalia Pena has already waned. So why does she love her little brother with such ferocity that, when he's kidnapped by a Big Brother-esque corporation, she'll do anything to get him back?
Letters to the Lady Upstairs by Marcel Proust, translated by Lydia Davis       $23
Letters written between 1909 and 1919 to Madame Marie Williams, the upstairs neighbour to his elegant apartment at 102 Boulevard Haussmann, revealing his concerns with his health and with noise (that harp!), in a mix of elegance and haste, refinement and convolution, gravity and self-mockery. Now in paperback.
>> Lydia Davis on translating Proust's letters

Lot by Bryan Washington         $33
“Washington’s subtle, dynamic and flexible stories play out across Houston’s sprawling and multiethnic neighborhoods. An alert and often comic observer of the world, Washington cracks open a vibrant, polyglot side of Houston about which few outsiders are aware. An underthrob of emotion beats inside Washington's stories. He’s confident enough not to force the action. The stories feel loose, their cellular juices free to flow.” —New York Times
Rip It Up and Start Again: Post punk, 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds        $19
"A fantastic tribute to an amazingly creative musical period . . . An instant pop classic, worthy of a place on your shelves beside the handful of music books that really matter." - Scotland on Sunday

Going to Town: A love letter to New York by Roz Chast        $25
Who better than Roz Chast to provide a graphic novel portrait of what it is like to live in New York. 
>>Chast talks about the book and about New York

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