Friday, 13 December 2019
The Chandelier by Clarice Lispector $26
Virginia and her cruel, beautiful brother, Daniel, grow up in a decaying country mansion. They leave for the city, but the change of locale leaves Virginia's internal life unperturbed. In intensely poetic language, Lispector conducts a stratigraphic excavation of Virginia's thoughts, revealing the drama of Clarice's lifelong quest to discover "the nucleus made of a single instant". Written when Lispector was 23.
"Sphinx, Sorceress. Sacred monster. The Chandelier offers an early glimpse of Clarice Lispector’s power." —The New York Times
Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense by Jenny Uglow $33
How pleasant to know Mr Lear!
Who has written such volumes of stuff!
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few think him pleasant enough.
The writer of nonsense rhymes was also a serious painter and a gentle, melancholy man for whom the society he so amused with his verses made little room.
"Jenny Uglow has written a great life about an artist with half a life, a biography that might break your heart." —Robert McCrumb, Guardian
Black Mountain Poems: An anthology edited by Jonathan C. Creasy $38
Black Mountain College had an explosive influence on American poetry, music, art, craft, dance, and thought; it’s hard to imagine any other institution that was so utopian, rebellious, and experimental. Founded with the mission of creating rounded, complete people by balancing the arts and manual labor within a democratic, nonhierarchical structure, Black Mountain was a crucible of revolutionary literature. Although this artistic haven only existed from 1933 to 1956, Black Mountain helped inspire some of the most radical and significant midcentury American poets. This anthology begins with the well-known Black Mountain Poets— Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov—but also includes the artist Josef Albers and the musician John Cage, as well as the often overlooked women associated with the college, M. C. Richards and Hilda Morley.
>>Redefining the Black Mountain poets.
>>Expressions of something shared.
Think, Write, Speak: Uncollected essays, reviews, interviews and letters to the editor by Vladimir Nabokov $65
Each phase of his wandering life is included, from an essay written while still at Cambridge in 1921, through his fame in the aftermath of the publication of Lolita to the final interviews given shortly before his death in 1977.
The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki $26
In the years leading up to the Second World War, four sisters live in dilapidated houses in Osaka and Ashiya, and each navigate their own complex, personal relationship to the fading lustre of the Makioka family name. Rich with breathtaking descriptions of ancient customs and an ever-changing natural world, Junichiro Tanizaki evokes in loving detail a long-lost way of life even as it withers under the harsh glare of modernity.
"An exquisite novel about four sisters living though a turbulent decade. I'd put it in the 10 greatest books of the 20th century." —David Mitchell
"A near-perfect novel." —Hanya Yanagihara
Good Economics for Hard Times: Better answers to our biggest problems by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo $50
The 2019 Nobel Laureates in Economics show how traditional western-centric thinking has failed to explain what is happening to people in a newly globalised world. This books shows why migration doesn't follow the law of supply and demand, and why trade liberalisation can drive unemployment up and wages down.
Rabbits for Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum $33
It's New Year's Eve, the holiday of forced fellowship, mandatory fun, and paper hats. While dining out with her husband and their friends, Bunny—an acerbic, mordantly witty, and clinically depressed writer—fully unravels. Her breakdown lands her in the psych ward of a prestigious New York hospital, where she refuses all modes of recommended treatment. Instead, she passes the time chronicling the lives of her fellow "lunatics" and writing a novel about what brought her there.
"There is a great deal of humor, compassion, and sensitivity for the material. Readers will quickly commit to this extraordinary novel. Laser-sharp prose, compelling observations, and an engaging, sympathetic central figure conspire to make it a page-turner. Rabbits for Food is an impressive achievement. It should be read as soon as possible." —Los Angeles Review of Books
Missing Person by Patrick Modiano $26
An amnesiac detective on the streets of Paris is unaware that the person he seeks is himself, and that he in somehow implicated in something he cannot remember during the Nazi occupation.
Out by Natsuo Kirino $26
In the Tokyo suburbs four women work the graveyard shift at a factory. Burdened with heavy debts, alienated from husbands and children, they all secretly dream of a way out of their dead-end lives. A young mother among them finally cracks and strangles her philandering, gambling husband. She confesses her crime to her colleagues and unexpectedly, they agree to help.
Why Trust Science? by Naomi Oreskes $55
Do doctors really know what they are talking about when they tell us vaccines are safe? Should we take climate experts at their word when they warn us about the perils of global warming? Why should we trust science when our own politicians don't? In this landmark book, Naomi Oreskes offers a bold and compelling defense of science, revealing why the social character of scientific knowledge is its greatest strength, and the greatest reason we can trust it.
Caroline's Dilemma: A colonial inheritance saga by Bettina Bradbury $40
This history of a widow and her children whose lives were transformed by the conditions of her husband’s will takes readers to the violent frontiers where squatters ran sheep in South Australia and Victoria, to Melbourne, Ireland, England and, occasionally, New Zealand. Caroline’s Dilemma reveals much about women’s property rights, widowhood, sibling relations, migration, settler colonialism, and Catholic-Protestant conflict. It also reminds us why feminists in the 19th century fought so hard first for wives to retain control of their own property, then for limitations on husband’s rights to bequeath family property as they wished, and in the 1970s for fair division of matrimonial property when couples divorced. Both succession law and the question of couples’ claims on relationship property are once again on the legislative agenda in New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere.
>>Bettina Bradbury on Radio New Zealand.
The Happy Reader #14 $12
Grace Wales Bonner is a 28 year old fashion designer from south-east London. She has been feted by the worlds of both serious culture and high glamour, but here’s the unusual part: her clothes come with reading lists. Interviewed by Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri, Grace explains how she sees herself on some level as a researcher. She visits libraries, digests acres of complex ideas about politics and identity, and expresses them, among other things, via the realm of clothes.
The featured book of this issue is Joris-Karl Huysmans’s Against Nature (1884), supposedly the most decadent novel ever written. Its relentless inventory-keeping thrills and inspires some readers and baffles others, and is highly relevant to this season of non-stop accumulation. Contributors include Jarvis Cocker, Lydia Davis, Rob Doyle and Jeanette Winterson.