Saturday 22 June 2019

BOOKS @ VOLUME #133 (22.6.19)

Read our latest NEWSLETTER

More and more of us are suffering from anxiety. In 2017, one in five New Zealanders sought help for a diagnosed anxiety or mood disorder. In our Book of the Week, HEADLANDS, edited by Naomi Arnold, thirty New Zealanders share their experiences.
>> Out of the Woods by Brent Williams and Korkut Öztekin
>> First We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson [no relation]

Pill by Robert Bennett    {Reviewed by STELLA}
Another gem from the 'Object Lessons' series, Pill is a fascinating account of the history and consequences of psychotropic medications. Starting with the drug revolution of the 1950s, when the new wave of pills moved the treatment of mental health away from ECT and the asylum, Bennett takes us on a philosophical exploration through several developments. Chapters 1 to 5 are titled by their pill name: 'Thorazine', 'Valium', 'Lithium', 'Prozac' and 'Adderall'. He lays out his explorations within the cultural context of each period, delving into literature, film and television — those visible cultural markers that predict and reflect social behaviour. From Brave New World and its Soma to the Mom of The Brady Bunch — your very average American housewife, taking her valium to calm herself before the neighbours come over for a gathering — to the documentary Prozac Nationand several memoirs (Terri Cheney, Elizabeth Wurtzel), to well-known films, Silver Linings Playbookand television, The Sopranos. He draws all this and more together, creating an interesting and revealing essay that reflects on the complex and diverse world of psychotropic medications and pills in general. Our decade has been described as “living in the most medicated era humanity has ever known”, and thinking about this makes one ponder the why and how of this explosion in taking pills. Some, of course, is the necessity for better drugs to help those who have mental illnesses cope in our everyday world, while other pills enhance or change our interaction with the world beyond ourselves, while other pills calm — mother’s little helper, Valium, and brother’s little helper, Ritalin (see The Simpsons and Bart’s dosing). The final chapter, entitled 'Coda', is equally absorbing. Bennett describes his own manic episodes — he is bipolar — and the effect of his different medications on his own functionality. Endlessly thoughtful and highly engaging, Bennett stresses that “Pill isn’t a book about mental illness, at least not directly; rather a philosophical exploration of how psychotropic medications...are used to treat mental illnesses and the larger philosophical implications of those medications’ abilities (and inabilities) to reconstruct the neuro-circuitry of the human brain.” Are we the same person when medicated? Which identity is dominant — the nature of the pill or the essence of ourselves?
(This review was written while listening to Johnny Cash’s 'Hurt').  


Charges by Elfriede Jelinek   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
Who speaks for whom? And to whom? For whom is it appropriate to speak? For whom is it necessary to speak? For whom is it even possible to speak? Whose voices cannot be heard? Whose voices overspeak the voices of those who cannot be heard and take away the meanings of their words? Which is rather to say perhaps that they can be heard but not understood. Which is rather to say that they might as well not have been heard. What meanings do words have when those who speak them have been denied those aspects of their lives that provide the meanings for words? Who then owns or controls the meanings of words? Are there words for which the meanings cannot be taken away even by those who would take away the meanings of words? What do these words refer to? To what extent are words the weapons of all battles, especially of those battles for which there are no other weapons? To what extent are all crises also crises of language? To what extent can crises be addressed, assuaged or remedied in language? To what extent can crises not be addressed, assuaged or remedied at all if they are not addressed, assuaged or remedied in language, either first, or later, or in parallel with any other attempt to address or assuage or remedy such crises? Charges is comprised of three dramatic monologues, or, rather, choruses, or, rather, one dramatic monologue or chorus with a ‘Coda’ and an ‘Appendix’, spoken largely as a mutable plural first person, expressing the experiences of refugees reaching Europe during the urgent humanitarian crisis of recent years, but multivocal and restless enough between those multiple voices to encompass varying viewpoints and experiences. The text takes the form of a complaint, and has conscious parallels with Æschylus’s The Suppliants (in which, rarely for Greek theatre, the chorus are the protagonists, in that case the Danaids, who, having fled their home country to avoid intolerable circumstances, plead first with the ruler of Argos and then with its citizens, who ultimately grant them protection). Charges is remarkable for the obsessive propulsion, subtle shifts and emotional charge of its sentences, which move with such urgent necessity, both exploring and resisting all that is represented by the word “plight”, so often and so easily applied to refugees, who rather have common needs, very much the needs of all humans, than a plight, other than that their needs, these common human needs, are not met by those denying them through selfishness, hatred or fear, if we can distinguish between hatred and fear, and between these and selfishness. The refugees, in addition to seeking permission to have their needs, the common human needs, met, are resisting the single story applied upon them from without, both by those to oppose and by those who support them, seeking to retain their individual stories, their individual losses, despite being reduced to the level of concern almost exclusively for their common human needs, which are not met. Who would deny them? Who is in a position to deny them? It is in the nature of a crisis for the stories of the individual victims to be lost beneath the story of the crisis, for each active ‘I’ to be subsumed by the passive ‘we’ of those branded with the crisis. Jelinek’s text springs initially from anger at the ‘plight’ of a group of mainly Syrian refugees who reached Vienna, took refuge in a prominent church and were then moved by the authorities to a less visible location. The tone reaches a mocking pitch when addressing the authorities’ reluctance to provide for the basic needs of this group ("You have poured all your intentions into one formula and now you can't get your intentions out of this formula."), especially while blithely granting citizenship to individuals who are helped to sidestep the qualifications for citizenship. “Calculations always contain violence,” writes Jelinek. Language becomes the way not only in which needs are expressed but also the way in which needs are denied. A thing and its opposite may well be a pun, not only by homophony or etymology but by referent. There is not enough water to drink but plenty to drown in. Charges is evidence that it is possible, perhaps by aligning the particular and the general through the subtlety and force of its language, for the direct treatment of a political issue to deepen a work of art, both in its content and its form. Language is the battleground upon which writers must contest, or else upon which they submit. “The conquest of the world as image, that’s history.”

Friday 21 June 2019

Te Rātaka a Tētahi Kōhine by Anne Frank, translated by Te Haumihiata Mason       $25
The Diary of a Young Girl in te reo Māori.
>>Published by the New Zealand Holocaust Centre to mark what would have been Anne Frank's 90th birthday. 
>>Why it's significant Anne Frank's diary has been translated into Te Reo Māori
My Seditious Heart by Arundhati Roy          $75
A collection of outstanding non-fiction (essays, speeches, &c) written in the two-decade gap between The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, a period in which Roy found that the urgency of her political and social convictions led her to engage with a wide spectrum of issues. 
"Although Roy writes in her foreword that 'Not one iota of my anger has diminished' since the time of writing these essays, they do not come across as angry. Instead, their impact comes from their precision, research and damningly clear reportage." —Guardian
>>"Literature provides shelter."
Happening by Annie Ernaux        $24
"Maybe the true purpose of my life is for my body, my sensations and my thoughts to become writing, in other words, something intelligible and universal, causing my existence to merge into the lives and heads of other people."
In here sixties, Ernaux looks back to a time forty years previously, when she was unexpectedly pregnant and sought an abortion. Her text interrogates her memory for meaning. 
>>Another edition
>>Read Thomas's review of Ernaux's wonderful book The Years

Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast by Sophie Gilmore      $35
Crocodiles come from far and wide to seek Little Doctor's care. She treats each one with skill and kindness. Little Doctor marvels at these fearless beasts, listening to their stories, while she diagnoses and cures what ails them. But when she meets Big Mean, the largest crocodile in the land with jaws clamped tightly shut, Little Doctor can't figure out what's wrong. And she might be just a little bit afraid... Beautifully illustrated. 

Silent Kingdom: A world beneath the waves by Christian Vizi      $85
Stunning black-and-white photographs of underwater life. 

This Brutal House by Niven Govinden        $40
A novel portraying the activism and subversion that were everyday realities in the darg communities of New York in the 1980s and 1990s, as remembered by a group of drag queen 'mothers'. 
"Niven Govinden is a true force of fierceness and beauty." —Olivia Laing

XX by Angela Chadwick          $28
When Rosie and Jules discover a ground-breaking clinical trial that enables two women to have a female baby, they jump at the chance to make history. Fear-mongering politicians and right-wing movements are quick to latch on to the controversies surrounding Ovum-to-Ovum (o-o) technology and stoke the fears of the public. Can Rosie's and Jules's relationship survive? 

The New Zealand Wars | Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa  by Vincent O'Malley         $40 
A very accessible and well illustrated history of the series of conflicts between the Crown and various groups of Maori between 1845 and 1872, conflicts that form the often unacknowledged background to much else in New Zealand history. From the author of the monumental The Great War for New Zealand. Reprinted and back in stock!

Afropean: Notes from Black Europe by Johny Pitts      $40
On-the-ground documentation of areas where Europeans of African descent are juggling their multiple allegiances and forging new identities. Here is an alternative map of the continent, taking the reader to places like Cova Da Moura, the Cape Verdean shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon with its own underground economy, and Rinkeby, the area of Stockholm that is 80 per cent Muslim. Johny Pitts visits the former Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where West African students are still making the most of Cold War ties with the USSR, and Clichy Sous Bois in Paris, which gave birth to the 2005 riots, all the while presenting Afropeans as lead actors in their own story.
A Seat at the Table: Interviews with women on the front-line of rock by Amy Raphael         $38
Almost twenty-five years ago, Raphael wrote Never Mind the Bollocks, which recorded the extra obstacles women faced in rock and popular music. In this book, she finds that, although the names and faces may have changed, the obstacles remain disappointingly similar. 
Toffee by Sarah Crossan          $17
Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn't empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there — and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee.
God's Englishman: Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution by Christopher Hill       $30
A new edition of this important work by the fine radical historian. 
"A triumph of complex interpretation and delicious prose." —Guardian
The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine        $28
In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returns to Beirut after many years in America to stand vigil at his father's deathbed. The city is a shell of the Beirut Osama remembers, but he and his friends and family take solace in the things that have always sustained them: gossip, laughter, and, above all, stories. Osama's grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching stories — of his arrival in Lebanon, an orphan of the Turkish wars, and of how he earned the name al-Kharrat, the fibster — are interwoven with reimagined classic tales of the Middle East. 
The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey          $15
Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his friends and teammates, even Josh. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. 

It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.
Kings of the Yukon: An Alaskan river journey by Adam Weymouth         $28
The Yukon River is almost 2,000 miles long, flowing through Canada and Alaska to the Bering Sea. Weymouth journeyed by canoe on a four-month odyssey through this wilderness, encountering the people who have lived there for generations. The Yukon's inhabitants have long depended on the salmon who each year migrate the entire river to reach their spawning grounds. Now the salmon numbers have dwindled, and the encroachment of the modern world has changed the way of life on the Yukon, perhaps for ever. Weymouth's portraits of these people and landscapes offer an elegiac glimpse of a disappearing world. 
"Weymouth combines acute political, personal and ecological understanding, with the most beautiful writing reminiscent of a young Robert Macfarlane." —Sunday Times
This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews          $30
It's the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. Legend has it that after drifting out of sight, they'll soar off to the Milky Way and turn into brilliant stars. This year, Ben and his classmates are determined to find out where those lanterns really go, and they made a pact with two simple rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back.The plan is to follow the river on their bikes for as long as it takes to learn the truth, but it isn't long before the pact is broken by all except for Ben and (much to Ben's disappointment) Nathaniel, the one kid who just doesn't seem to fit in. A graphic novel for children, full of magic, wonder, and unexpected friendship.
Follow Me: Play for little hands      $15
Follow! Point! Press! Interact with the bright, bold artwork to complete simple activities using your fingers. Follow the wiggly dog to pat him on the head, help the butterflies get to the flowers and lots more. Features tactile embossing on every page. These activities are perfect for encouraging the development of fine motor skills.

Saturday 15 June 2019

BOOKS @ VOLUME #132 (15.6.19)

Read our latest newsletter and find out what we've been reading. 

Machines Like Me (and People Like You) by Ian McEwan is our Book of the Week this week. 
In the alternative 1980s London of the novel, 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 in the relationship triangle that inevitably develops between these three? 
>>Personalising the mannequin
>>Just more sophisticated clockwork? 
>>A.I. is already penetrating our lives
>>"I write about love, music, physics, maths, history."
>>Who's going to write the algorithm for the little white lie? 
>>Inside the writer's studio

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan     {Reviewed by STELLA}
With his inheritance, self-professed geek Charlie Friend buys himself an Adam — just one of 25 Adam or Eve models of AI humanoids. Charlie would have preferred an Eve, but, no surprise, these have sold out quickly. Living in a dingy flat in Clapham, playing the stock market (none too successfully) and being obsessed with his upstairs neighbour Miranda are the central facets of our protagonist's life. Adam arrives on a stretcher and is unwrapped. Sitting at the kitchen table he is charging while Charlie studies the manual and decides that Miranda can share in Adam’s programming (there are some personality traits/preferences that owners can add). And hence a trio is born: Charlie sees Adam as someone that they have created and, while Adam does his bidding — he is a helpful machine — you, as the reader, from the beginning of this smart and intriguing contrivance, get the feeling that Adam, with his superior knowledge (access to knowledge — he’s always wired in) and his machine learning abilities, is not at all subservient. Both Miranda and Charlie have blemishes on their human  record: Charlie, once a tax lawyer, just escaped a custodial sentence for fraud, and Miranda has a deep secret, which Adam quickly uncovers with a little research. You may get the sense that Adam is malign, but this far from the truth. He is highly likeable — generally amenable and curious about the world and human arts and culture. He is a wonderful friend to Charlie, and has the added bonus of earning him quite a stack of money thanks to his prowess in numbers, playing the stock exchange. And he has fallen in love with Miranda, but promises Charlie to restrict his affections to writing haiku love poems. Surprisingly, I found myself suspicious of my fellow humans — their selfish and sometimes shallow desires and their often contradictory behaviour. As the plot heats up, Charlie and Miranda’s relationship develops and the trio fall into a companionable and successful pattern. Life is on the up for the young couple as wealth comes their way and emotionally they mature into what we might say are better humans, and this in the face of a faltering Britain — a counterfactual 1980s that is. McEwan has cleverly devised this story of technological advances in the past, a past where Alan Turing is still alive, Britain has lost the war in the Falklands, and Thatcher has left government in tears. One can be forgiven for thinking that McEwan is having a sly dig at the political shenanigans of today’s Britain. It’s intelligent and funny, with little twists that will rise a wry smile. But, as Adam discovers Shakespeare, the reader will come to see that all is not fair in love nor war. Miranda’s secret will lead to a denouement that reveals the complexities and contradictions of human behaviour, the ethics of machines, and our own morality. It will make you wonder whether the world is ready for the coming robots — and are the robots going to be pleased to be here with us? 

Contre-Jour by Gabriel Josipovici     {Reviewed by THOMAS}
The background in a painting of Pierre Bonnard often assumes more importance than the foreground, overwhelming the subject with the force of greater light and colour. Bonnard’s work, according to critic Roberta Smith, is remarkable for “the heat of mixed emotions, rubbed into smoothness, shrouded in chromatic veils and intensified by unexpected spatial conundrums and by elusive, uneasy figures.” Gabriel Josipovici’s subtle, disconcerting and remarkable novel, Contre-Jour: A triptych after Pierre Bonnard, is written in a similar way, against the light, a work of obsessive background that at once conceals and reveals its subject. The first and longest of the three sections of the novel is addressed bitterly by a young woman to her estranged mother, lamenting that she was forced to leave the family house, pushed out of the all-consuming relationship between her mother and her father, an artist who obsessively works to turn life into art, making him a passive but controlling observer, sketching and painting everything around him and draining them of autonomy and meaning. “‘Nothing stands still, nothing opens itself to our gaze but always retreats, vanishes, turns into something else,’” the daughter reads in her father’s notebook. The daughter returns again and again to the moment when she realised her exclusion from her parents’ relationship, when, as a child, she came into the bathroom where her mother was lying in the bath and noticed her father in the corner sketching, excluding her by his gaze. “Though your eyes are open,” she accuses her mother, “ and you must have seen me, you did not react to my presence. But perhaps you didn’t see me. Perhaps it is only in my memory that your eyes are open.” In one moment, which was no different perhaps from many other moments (incidentally, Bonnard repeatedly painted his wife Marthe de Méligny in the bath after they moved from Paris to the south of France in 1939 and before her death in 1942), in a moment that was merely an iteration of an obsessively repeated super-moment, the daughter realises that “it was not possible for the three of us to be together.” Could this moment, so like so many other moments, have been different? “Should a word have been said then, by me, by you, by him, which, unsaid, made all speech between us impossible ever after?” The gaze that binds her parents into the relationship from which art is produced, the relationship that excludes all else, is the gaze that nullifies the daughter. “And do you know what that made me feel? Not just that I was not wanted, but that I did not exist, I had never existed and I would never exist.” The words come “as if I had nothing to do with the words I speak to you. As if there were not spoken by me but to me or at me or in me. In my head. In my mouth. Wherever it is that words resound. In some space or place where words resound.” The daughter realises that the gaze simultaneously sustains and nullifies its object, her mother, and that the mother’s complicity in the obsessively visual relationship was a way of destroying both herself and monopolising her husband. “When you turned your face to the wall and cried he sat there in the corner sketching.” Obsession defers depression. “What you wanted, I think, as time went by, was to disappear entirely, to efface yourself from his presence. There was something that was killing you in his even-handed depiction of everything around him.” The second section of the novel is addressed by the mother to the daughter, whom she blames for their estrangement, and with whom she has many times attempted contact. “I have written you letters and posted them at the corner of the street. Why do you never reply?” The mother is stricken by the impossibility of a relationship with her daughter, impossibility within herself as much as in the daughter or the situation: “Where does it come from, this love one is supposed to give?” In the same way that the father has written in his notebook, of his art, “I want my people to be bathed in time as the impressionists bathed them in light,” the novel shows its characters overwhelmed by the temporal medium in which everything takes place, and the characters are depicted not so much against light (contre-jour) as against time (contre-temps). “You wake up and things have changed but you know that things have been changing for a long time,” the mother says. Despite the capturing of moments (“When he is not sketching me I wonder if I am really there.”), or perhaps because of this, time is always the overwhelming, unresolvable problem. “‘How to paint what happens when nothing happens?’ he used to say. I knew what he meant,” the mother says. “Nothing happens and nothing happens and nothing happens and all of a sudden there is a whole life gone and you realise that all those nothings were in fact everything.” The mother tells of a visit to her daughter’s apartment, which went so improbably well that we begin to suspect what is eventually manifestly the truth: the daughter does not exist and has never existed. The daughter is the delusional creation of the ‘mother’, but a creation that cannot receive or return love. “Oh my daughter. Whom I never had. For whom I longed. … If I had had you all the world would have been different. Even if things had been bad between us. It would have been different if I had had a daughter. Not this great emptiness. This great silence.” Reality, without the daughter, is intolerable, and, towards the end, we learn of the reason for the move from Paris to the countryside, and for the seemingly obsessive attention given by the artist to his subject: “Why could we not go on living in a fourth floor flat? Because of the animals? No. Because I tried to jump out of the window.” The daughter, the voice of the daughter, the daughter who exists only as a voice, the voice of the entire first section of the novel (the voice who said, “I had never existed and I would never exist. … I have nothing to do with the words I speak to you. As if there were not spoken by me but to me or at me or in me. In my head. In my mouth. Wherever it is that words resound,” &c), is a product entirely of the ‘mother’s’ mind, just as it is, in turn, a product, along with the ‘mother’s’ voice, of the author’s mind (and, by extension, of the reader’s mind). If the daughter exists, to the extent that she exists, and it cannot be said that she does not exist, in the way that all fiction exists, for the saddest of reasons in the mother’s mind, what does this tell us about the author’s mind (and, by extension, the reader’s mind)? What does this tell us about the mental operations that, when not overwhelming our sanity, we call fiction? The third and last section of the novel is a very short, sad and straightforward letter from the artist informing a friend of his wife’s death. It constitutes the only ‘objective’ element in the novel. 

Friday 14 June 2019


Murmur by Will Eaves           $23
A completely remarkable novel providing access to the mind of Alan Turing (here 'Alec Pryor') as he undergoes chemical castration after being convicted of homosexuality. Eaves's insights into the nature of consciousness and identity, and their implications for artificial intelligence, are subtle and humane. New edition. Highly recommended. 
"A really extraordinary book, unlike any other." —Max Porter
"A shining example of the moral and imaginative possibilities of the novel." —The Guardian
Winner of the 2019 Wellcome Prize. Co-winner of the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize. 
>>Read Thomas's review
The Fox and Dr Shimamura by Christine Wunnicke         $36
"A marvel, a wonder—a deeply strange little novel about medicine, memory, and fox possession. With her delicate prose, arch tone, and mischievous storytelling, Wunnicke proves herself a master of the form." Kirkus

Surrender to Night: Collected poems by Georg Trakl, translated by Will Stone          $33
Trakl, in his brief life (1887—1914), produced poems of awful visual power and symbolic density, distilling the horrors of existence, and of war, into verse that lies at the black heart of German expressionism. Hugely influential across genres through Europe, Trakl now has this crisp new English translation. 
All the Juicy Pastures: Greville Texidor and New Zealand by Margot Schwass           $40
Greville Texidor, one-time Bloomsbury insider, globetrotting chorus-line dancer, former heroin addict, anarchist militia-woman and recent inmate of Holloway Prison, became a writer only after arriving in New Zealand as a refugee in 1940. First in remote Paparoa, and then on Auckland's North Shore as a central member of Frank Sargeson's circle of writers and intellectuals, she recalled many of the events of her life in the novella These Dark Glasses and a dazzling series of stories. After Texidor left New Zealand for Australia and Spain in 1948 she continued to write but finished little. She killed herself in 1964. Her published and some unpublished fiction is collected in In Fifteen Minutes You Can Say a Lot. All the Juicy Pastures at last brings this important New Zealand writer into focus. 
In Fifteen Minutes You Can Say a Lot by Greville Texidor         $30
In Fifteen Minutes You Can Say a Lot begins with Texidor's most fully achieved piece of work, 'These Dark Glasses'. Distinguished by sophisticated writing and acute psychological insight, it is set on the south coast of France during the Spanish Civil War. The stories which follow range from Spain and England to New Zealand, where she writes unsentimentally and unerringly of the environment of the time. 'Goodbye Forever', the unfinished novel which concludes the volume, is Texidor's most sustained piece of writing on New Zealand. The central character, Lili, is a Viennese refugee who arrives amongst the writers of Auckland's North Shore. She is exotic and alone, and her slow collapse is plotted with minute observation.
The New Photography: New Zealand's first-generation contemporary photographers edited by Athol McCredie        $70
An incisive look at the beginnings of contemporary or art photography in New Zealand. Interviews with Gary Baigent, Richard Collins, John Daley, John Fields, Max Oettli, John B Turner, Len Wesney and Ans Westra, and a superb range of images.

>>Athol McCredie answers some questions
Motherhood by Sheila Heti       $26
At once both fiction and non-fiction, Heti's novel, if it is a novel, confronts the central philosophical problem of prospective parenthood: should we bring new life into the world? If that wasn't difficult enough, how can we determine whether or not it is a suitable thing for us? Now in paperback (and also still in hardback (both covers by Leanne Shapton)). 
>>Read this review by Sally Rooney
>>"The only place you can be free is in your writing.

Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh            $38
Bengali legend meets history meets politics meets adventure as Ghosh breaks new ground in this novel addressing crises of our time: climate change and migration. The novel is his first since The Great Derangement, his book that examines our inability — at the level of literature, history, and politics — to grasp the scale and violence of climate change.
Goliath, The boy who was different by Ximo Abadia       $40
If you are much, much bigger than anyone else, is it possible to fit in? 

Easy Peasy: Gardening for kids by Kirsten Bradley and Aitch       $40
For the next generation of green fingers there are different ways to bring nature into the home. Make your own pots, build balcony boxes, create your own bird feeders and even get friendly with worms! Each activity has been carefully chosen to create living, renewable and sustainable environments for kids and their families. Each activity has been carefully written by Kirsten Bradley, a leading practitioner in permaculture for kids and co-founder of Milkwood permaculture farm in Australia, and the book is illustrated by Romanian folk artist Aitch.  
Asghar and Zahra by Sameer Rahim        $35
A funny, sympathetic and human novel about a couple born in the same British Muslim community in west London whose families are rivals involved in running two different mosques.
This Land is Our Land: An immigrant's manifesto by Suketu Mehta        $38
Drawing on his family's own experience emigrating from India to Britain and America, and years of reporting around the world, Suketu Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny. The West, he argues, is being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of immigrants. He juxtaposes the phony narratives of populist ideologues with the ordinary heroism of labourers, nannies and others, from Dubai to New York, and explains why more people are on the move today than ever before. As civil strife and climate change reshape large parts of the planet, it is little surprise that borders have become so porous. The book also stresses the destructive legacies of colonialism and global inequality on large swathes of the world. When today's immigrants are asked, 'Why are you here?', they can justly respond, 'We are here because you were there.' And now that they are here, as Mehta demonstrates, immigrants bring great benefits, enabling countries and communities to flourish.
Eyewitness 1917: The Russian revolution as it happened edited by Mikhail Zygar and Karen Shainyan       $55
A remarkable collection of primary sources: letters, memoirs, diaries and other documents of the period, accompanied by images, many previously not published. 
Tā Moko: Māori markings edited by Crispin Howarth       $48
An excellent survey of documentary images: carvings, drawing, engravings, paintings, photographs. 

Among the Living and the Dead by Inara Verzemnieks       $23
Inara Verzemnieks's grandmother’s stories recalled the family farm left behind in Latvia, where, during WWII, her grandmother Livija and her grandmother’s sister, Ausma, were separated. They would not see each other again for more than 50 years. Raised by her grandparents in the USA, Inara grew up among expatriates, scattering smuggled Latvian sand over the coffins of the dead, singing folk songs about a land she had never visited. When Inara discovers the scarf Livija wore when she left home, this tangible remnant of the past points the way back to the remote village where her family broke apart. Coming to know Ausma and the trauma of her exile to Siberia under Stalin, and her grandfather’s own complex history, Inara pieces together Livija’s survival through the years as a refugee.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris,  Ross Calman, Mark Derby and Piripi Walker     $20
A bilingual graphic novel accessibly exploring the history and importance of New Zealand's founding document. 
The Brain: A user's manual by Marco Magrini           $28
"Congratulations on the purchase of this exclusive product, tailor-made just for you. It will provide you with years of continuous existence." A fun and fascinating guide to the inner workings of one of nature's most miraculous but misunderstood creations: the human brain. This user-friendly manual offers an accessible guide to the 'machine' you use the most, deconstructing the brain into its constituent parts and showing you both how they function and how to maintain them for a longer life. 
The Scottish Clearances: A history of the dispossessed by T.M. Devine        $28
After Culloden and the ascendancy of new elites, the 'rationalisation' of land-use in Scotland (largely to serve the woollen trade) entailed the fracturing of social structures and the displacement of crofters and others. The resulting diaspora contributed to the European settlement of New Zealand in the nineteenth century. Devine's history is enlightening and overturns many myths. 
Down Girl: The logic of misogyny by Katie Mann        $28
Manne argues that misogyny should not be understood primarily in terms of the hatred or hostility some men feel toward all or most women. Rather, it's primarily about controlling, policing, punishing, and exiling the 'bad' women who challenge male dominance. 
"Compelling." —Guardian
Child of St Kilda by Beth Waters     $25
For over two thousand years, the inhabitants of St Kilda maintained a thriving, tightly-knit community on one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. Theirs was an isolated lifestyle completely dependent on the seasons and the elements for its survival. A lifestyle out of which developed a culture based on subsistence, resilience, mutual trust and caring. A culture that knew no crime, had no need of cash, and took care of its weakest members without question. This unique way of life came abruptly to an end in August 1930, when the now-depleted community of only thirty-six men, women and children begged the British Government to evacuate them to the mainland. Why did the islanders leave, and where did they go? What became of them? This beautiful picture book is told through the eyes of Norman John Gillies, the last child born on St Kilda.
The Secret World of Farm Animals by Jeffrey Masson      $28
Shows the complex emotional and social lives of farmed animals.
"Unbelievably inspiring." —Peter Wohlleben

Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the object in the work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, even edited by Massimiliano Gioni       $120
In the first half of the 20th century, Marcel Duchamp redefined what we consider art and what it means to be an artist. Many of his ideas return, transformed, in the work of Jeff Koons, born when Duchamp was 68 years old and whose own career challenged the art world of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. This is the first book to explore the affinities between these two highly influential artists, whose creative universes similarly question the function of objects and the allure of commodities. International art historians, writers, and curators contribute their expertise on topics such as each artist's persona, as well as reflecting on the influence of technology and sexuality on their work.
New York: Day and night by Aurelie Pollet and Vincent Bergier      $35
Sometimes your eyes can play tricks on you, especially in the dark. Transparent overlays turn night into day and reveal the actuality behind the impression. 

The Tunnels Below by Nadine Wild-Palmer       $19
On her twelfth birthday Cecilia goes out with her parents and sister to celebrate with a visit to a museum. On their way Cecilia drops the marble that her sister gave her as a present, and running to pick it up she is taken away on an empty underground train into a dark and deep tunnel. The fun family outing becomes a much more serious mission when Cecilia finds that she and her marble have a very important role to play in freeing the inhabitants of the tunnels from the tyrannical rule of the Corvus.

The Manet Girl by Charles Boyle         $30
Stories exploring situations in which desire, cutting through the demands of daily life, blurs all rational distinctions between what is important and what is distraction. Boyle has also published as Jack Robinson and Jennie Walker, and is the publisher of CB Editions. 

The Moth: Occasional magic, 50 true stories of defying the impossible edited by Catherine Burns       $33
Fifty stories from people who faced their deepest fears, including Neil Gaiman, Adam Gopnik, Andrew Solomon, Rosanne Cash, and Cristina Lamb.
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