Friday 31 January 2020


Motherwell: A girlhood by Deborah Orr          $60
An insightful, devastating and well-written account of growing up in a housing estate on the west coast of Scotland. 
"A non-fiction book for the ages. Motherwell is a searching, truthful, shocking (and timely) observance of the blight that monetarist policies can bring about in a community of workers, indeed on a whole culture of fairness and improvement, while also showing — in sentences as clean as bone — the tireless misunderstandings that can starve a family of love." —Andrew O'Hagan, Guardian
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste        $33
A compelling novel concerning women soldiers defending Ethiopia during the Italian invasion of 1935. 
"Devastating." —Marlon James
"Magnificent." —Aminatta Forna

Nietzsche and the 'Burbs by Lars Iyer         $37
When a new student transfers in from a posh private school, he falls in with a group of like-minded suburban stoners, artists, and outcasts too smart and creative for their own good. His classmates nickname their new friend Nietzsche (for his braininess and bleak outlook on life), and decide he must be the front man of their metal band. As always, Iyer blends philosophical rigour and quotidian misery to humorous effect. 
>>Read Thomas's review of Spurious

Art This Way by Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford       $40
Unfold pages, lift flaps, gaze into mirrors, and interact with art like never before. Inspired by the many ways that art can be viewed and experienced, this book encourages children to spend time with a curated selection of fine art from the Whitney collection — and to dig deeper and consider all angles. Each artwork is showcased with a novelty mechanism and caption, for curious hands and wondering eyes. Delightful. 
Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the forty year rivalry that unraveled culture, religion and collective memory in the Middle East by Kim Ghattas         $38
An unprecedented and ambitious examination of how the modern Middle East unravelled and why it started with the pivotal year of 1979.
"An essential account of the ideologies that have shaped the region." —Guardian

Venus and Aphrodite: History of a goddess by Bettany Hughes        $35
Beginning in Cyprus, the goddess's mythical birthplace, Hughes decodes Venus's relationship to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, and, in turn, Aphrodite's mixed origins, both as a Cypriot spirit of fertility and procreation, and as a descendant of the prehistoric war goddesses of the Near and Middle East. Hughes also moves forward to show how the figure of Venus became the repository of socially destabilising and hence often proscribed forces of desire. 
>>Shocking Blue

>>Venus in Furs
Sovietistan: A journey through Turkmenistan, Kasakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan by Erika Fatland         $38
The five former Soviet Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan all became independent when the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991. In the Kyrgyzstani villages Erika Fatland meets victims of the widely known tradition of bride snatching; she visits the huge and desolate Polygon in Kazakhstan where the Soviet Union tested explosions of nuclear bombs; she meets Chinese shrimp gatherers on the banks of the dried out Aral Sea and she witnesses the fall of a dictator. She travels incognito through Turkmenistan, a country that is closed to journalists. She meets exhausted human rights activists in Kazakhstan, survivors from the massacre in Osh in 2010, and German Menonites who found paradise on the Kyrgyzstani plains 200 years ago.
 The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry        $25
Literary characters refuse to be confined to their books and start causing havoc in Wellington and in the otherwise normal lives of Charley Sutherland's family.
>>Usually confined to David Copperfield
>>Good grief

Out of the Woods by Luke Turner          $28
Finding solace among the trees of Epping Forest, Turner comes to terms with his religious upbringing, sexual abuse, and identity as a bisexual man. 
"Electrifying." —Olivia Laing
"Refreshing, frank, edifying, courageous." —Amy Liptrot

My Father's Arms are a Boat by Stein Erik Lunde and Øyvind Torseter          $38
A beautiful and gentle story in which a young boy receives reassurance from his father about loss being part of the cycles of nature. 
How to Be an Anti-Capitalist in the 21st Century by Erik Olin Wright      $33
Urgent. Useful. Our shared values — equality and fairness, democracy and freedom, community and solidarity — can both provide the basis for a critique of capitalism, and help to guide us towards a truly democratic society.
The Kid Who Came from Space by Ross Welford         $17
When Tammy disappears, only her twin brother Ethan knows she's safe — but he can't tell anyone or he won't see her again. Ethan teams up with his friend Iggy and the mysterious (and very hairy) Hellyann, a spaceship called Philip, and Suzy the trained chicken, in a nail-biting attempt to get his sister back. From the author of Time Travelling with a Hamster, The 1000-Year-Old Boy and other wonders. 
Thrust: A history of the codpiece in art by Michael Glover       $22
An enthralling history of a signifier of masculinity in costume, art, literature and popular culture, from the middle ages to today. 
The Self Delusion: The surprising science of how we are connected and why that matters by Tom Oliver        $38
Unless we stop seeing ourselves as individuals and start recognising that we are but parts of the larger organism our our environment, we will not be able to find a way to address problems that have arisen primarily from our separation from this larger self. 
"Timely and challenging." —Guardian

A Quiet Place by Seicho Matsumoto           $23
While on a business trip to Kobe, Tsuneo Asai receives the news that his wife Eiko has died of a heart attack. Eiko had a heart condition so the news of her death wasn't totally unexpected. But the circumstances of her demise left Tsuneo, a softly-spoken government bureaucrat, perplexed. How did it come about that his wife—who was shy and withdrawn, and only left their house twice a week to go to haiku meetings—ended up dead in a small shop in a shady Tokyo neighborhood?
The Little Ice Age, How climate made history, 1300—1850 by Brian Fagan         $30
Interesting. Demonstrates the social upheavals that accompany climate change. 

Serious Noticing by James Wood          $30
A selection of the outstanding literary critic's essays, from 1919 to 2019. 
The Man on a Donkey by H.F.M. Prescott         $23
In 1536, Henry VIII was almost toppled when Northern England rose to oppose the Dissolution of the Monasteries. A classic of historical fiction, first published in 1952.
"By widespread assent, one of the finest historical novels ever written. It may even be the finest." —Times Literary Supplement
The Nine Hundred: The extraordinary young women of the first official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam      $38
Boarding a train in Propad, Slovakia, the women believed they had been offered work in a factory, but they had been sold to the Nazis as slave labour by their government. Almost all were killed. 
The Captain and the Glory by Dave Eggers        $26The new Captain of the Glory is vulgar, bumbling and inexplicably confident. With no knowledge of nautical navigation or maritime law - nor even, as he has repeatedly remarked, a particular liking for boats — he solemnly swears to shake things up. What are we to make of his admiration of a much-feared pirate? A hilarious political satire. 

Beauty by Bri Lee       $23
A meditation on beauty and body image from the author of Eggshell Skull.  
The Onion's Great Escape by Sara Fanelli          $37
Sara Fanelli's activity book asks young readers to help the onion break free by answering thought-provoking questions and completing the activities within, finally pressing a three-dimensional character right out of the pages. The book encourages young children to be imaginative and think about complex issues in unexpected ways.
>>Like this!
>>Sara Finelli. 

Saturday 25 January 2020

BOOKS @ VOLUME #162 (25.1.20)

Events, courses, book groups, new books, our reviews — all can be found in our NEWSLETTER

Rose Lu's ALL WHO LIVE ON ISLANDS is our Book of the Week this week. Whether describing a shopping trip with her Shanghai-born grandparents or finding her place in the Wellington tech industry or musing about the multiple identities she must wield in the differing contexts in which migrants find themselves operating both in New Zealand and when visiting the country of their origin, Lu's essays are thoughtful, intimate and compelling.  
>>Read Stella's review
>>On growing up as a Chinese New Zealander in Aotearoa
>>Rose Lu on Radio NZ
>>Red Packet
>>The Tiger Club
>>The migrant experience and the tangata whenua experience.
>>Three myths about hiring for diversity
>>The cover is by Sharon Lam, author of Lonely Asian Woman. 
>>Click and collect


All Who Live on Islands by Rose Lu       {Reviewed by STELLA}   
Rose Lu’s collection of essays is sharp, precise and insightful. Lu draws on her own life — childhood, relationships and culture — to highlight what it means to be Chinese in New Zealand. The strongest essays, which are excellent, explore the difficulties of stepping through the minefields of cultural expectations and stereotypes. How do you navigate the world as a young child when you live in different worlds? At school, you are the 'Asian child' and you bear all the prejudice and stereotypes of your obvious ‘difference’; at home, you are the link between your grandparents and your generation — one of the few grandchildren who can understand their dialect, and you are a child for whom your parents have forsaken their own careers. This is the migrant story: come to a new land for better opportunities for the next generation. In Lu’s opening story she describes changing her slippers.
“On this journey I change my...slippers twice, from the lounge pair to the house pair, then from the house pair to the shop pair.” 
While I imagine Rose Lu doing this —I have a clear image in my head of her slipping off, on, off and on again her footwear moving from room to room — I also sense this is a method by which she has stepped through the diverse arena of her life. We all do it: fit a persona for whatever purpose we require — home, work, family gatherings — and for whatever role we may be complying to at any given time — wife, mother, manager, worker. Yet Lu’s arena, like many migrants or children of migrants, is overlaid with her cultural experiences. Being Chinese or Asian in Aotearoa is to be both visible and invisible. School camp is no exception — the experience of trying new food (lasagne) and of being pushed together with the other Chinese girl, Winnie. Indigestible suggestions on both counts.
A dish I had only heard about, and couldn’t wait to try… I had learned the word lasagne long before I had my first bite...A red slab was slopped on my plate...Further down the table I could see Winnie pushing her food around the plate. My cheeks reddened. I averted my gaze.”
What Lu says in a few words creates images that immediately resonant because in many ways she is writing about our shared experience. Whether that’s growing up in small-town New Zealand, working out who you are as a young independent person, or the relationships you delve into much to your horror looking back, there is the bud of familiarity. Yet this is intensified for Lu by the racism and prejudice which occurs on an everyday basis and by the importance of her ethnicity. Many of the essays also touch on how you can feel discombobulated within your own culture and by it. Having put her Chinese self safely in the box at some time in her late teens and more so during her years studying in Christchurch, you get a sense of this 'self' becoming integrated into her everyday life, as she develops who she is by using her love of language and her humour, as well as her obvious appreciation of her family and their migrant story, to unpack herself through words in a candid and considered way. She isn’t obviously confronting, yet she does not shirk from pointing out the obvious stereotypical behaviour of mainstream New Zealand. Having grandparents who migrated to New Zealand in the 1950s and spoke little or no English all of their lives, I found myself drawn predominantly to the stories of family and the importance of food within cultures to act as a common language and a receptacle of past lives — a way in which the strands of ancestry can be preserved. Other readers will find other essays resonate — returning to and travelling through your cultural homeland, finding like-minded friends and associates with common experiences, or the action of finding yourself among the words that tell stories — the art of the personal essay. Rose Lu’s essay collection is a fine debut.


A Million Windows by Gerald Murnane    {Reviewed by THOMAS}
The great concern in Murnane’s writing is the relationship between the fiction he writes and what he calls the ‘image world’ (he insists this is nothing to do with ‘imagination’ in the sense of making things up (he is, he says, incapable of making things up)), and, to a lesser yet strongly implied degree, the relationship between these two and the ‘actual world’, which he seems to regard as little more than an access point to (or of) the image world, and a place of frailties, disappointment and impermanent concerns. When Murnane describes the “chief character of a conjectured piece of fiction… a certain fictional male personage, a young man and hardly more than a boy” preferring the image-world relationship he had inside his head with a “certain young woman, hardly more than a girl” he sees every day in the railway carriage in which he travels home from school to the actual relationship he starts to develop (and soon abandons) with her after they eventually start to converse, he underscores a turning away, or, rather, a turning inward to the more urgent and intense image-world. Like some woefully under-recognised antipodean Proust, Murnane is fascinated by the mechanics of memory, which he sees as an operation of the image-world upon the actual, giving rise to the ‘true fictions’ that allow elements of the image-world to present themselves to awareness in a multiplicity of guises and versions. Murnane differs from many theorists of fiction in that he does not attribute primacy to the text but to the image-world to which the text gives access and which may contain, for instance, characters who have access, perhaps through their fictions, to image-worlds and characters inaccessible (at least as yet) to us. The million windows (from Henry James: “The house of fiction has in short not one window, but a million”) are those of “a house of two or maybe three storeys”, inhabited by writers, all perhaps versions or potential versions of Murnane himself, who look out over endless plains as they engage in the act of writing fiction, or discuss doing so. The multiplicity of this process stands in relation to an unattainable absolute towards which memories and other fictions reach, or, rather, which reaches to us in the form of memories and other fictions. Murnane’s small pallet, his precisely modulated recurring images and his looping, delightfully pedantic style are at once fascinating, frustrating, soporific and revelatory.

Friday 24 January 2020

Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich         $38

A novel tracing the trajectories of two Prague schoolfriends and one-time lovers, Jana and Zorka, as they move to the west and shape lives for themselves there. From the author of The Natashas
"A hint of David Lynch, a touch of Elena Ferrante, the cruel absurdity of Antonin Artaud, and the fierce candour of Anaïs Nin." —The Guardian
"A bold feminist novel." —TLS

Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie         $38
"Microdosing LSD has become fashionable over the last few years, with some users reporting improvements to mood and productivity. Reading Irenosen Okojie’s stories is more like taking an old‑fashioned megadose: familiar reality peels away to reveal a world of bizarre transformations, stutters in time, encounters between gods and humans, and the fragmentation, or even the dissolution, of the self." —Chris Power, Guardian
>>By the author of Speak Gigantular
Braised Pork by An Yu            $34
bathroom of her Beijing apartment to find her husband - with whom she had been breakfasting barely an hour before - dead in the bathtub. Next to him a piece of paper unfolds like the wings of a butterfly, and on it is an image that Jia Jia can't forget. Troubled by what she has seen, even while she is abruptly released from a marriage that had constrained her, Jia Jia embarks on a journey to discover the truth of the sketch. Starting at her neighbourhood bar, with its brandy and vinyl, and fuelled by anger, bewilderment, curiosity and love, Jia Jia travels deep into her past in order to arrive at her future.
"Wild and distinctive." —Guardian
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins           $35
A highly anticipated and controversial novel on the sufferings of Mexican migrants into the United States. 
Hide and Seek City by Agathe Demois and Vincent Godeau       $30
Use the special red-filter 'magnifying glass' to look through the walls and see all the strange things the inhabitants of the buildings are up to! [Doesn't work on real buildings, BTW]
Time for Lights Out by Raymond Briggs          $48
In his customary pose as the grumpiest of grumpy old men, Raymond Briggs contemplates old age and death... and doesn't like them much. Illustrated with Briggs's inimitable pencil drawings, Time for Lights Out is a collection of short pieces, some funny, some melancholy, some remembering his wife who died young, others about the joy of grandchildren, of walking the dog... He looks back at his schooldays and his time as an evacuee during the war, and remembers his parents and the house in which he grew up.
Mac's Problem by Enrique Vila-Matas       $38
When Mac finds himself unemployed, he decides, of course, to become a writer. His wife thinks he is wasting his time. Finding that the stories written long ago by his neighbour are considerably better than his own, Mac decides that, rather than write his own stories, he will read, revise, and improve his neighbour's, which are mostly narrated by a ventriloquist who has lost the ability to speak in different voices. But Mac finds that the stories have a strange way of imitating life. Or is life imitating the stories?

The Doll by Ismail Kadare           $33
At the centre of young Ismail's world is the enigmatic figure of his mother, the Doll: naïve and unchanging,she appears lost in her husband's great stone house and is constantly at odds with her wise and thin-lipped mother-in-law. As her son grows, his writing career flourishes; he uses words she doesn't understand, publishes radical poetry and falls in love outside of marriage. Ismail seems to be renouncing everything his mother embodies of old-world Gjirokastra. Most of all, the Doll fears that one day her intellectual, free-thinking son will exchange her for a better mother.
Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener             $33
An incisive memoir of life among the young and wealthy of Silicon Valley, and how it became unbearable. 
"A definitive document of a world in transition: I won't be alone in returning to Uncanny Valley for clarity and consolation for many years to come." —Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror
>>Beggars and tech millionaires
The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah by Benjamin Zephaniah           $27
From 1980s anarchist street activist dub poet to contemporary anarchist street activist dub poet, performer and YA author, Zephaniah has remained sharp, political and humane. 
"The Life and Rhymes has a performative quality reminiscent of Zephaniah's poetry — honest, unshowy and ultimately unthreatening. It matches the man.' —The Guardian
Where Architects Sleep: The most stylish hotels in the world by Sarah Miller        $40
A companion of sorts to Where Chefs Eat

The Wolf and the Fly by Antje Damm         $17
Gulp, gulp, gulp: one toy after another disappears into the mouth of the hungry wolf. Now he's almost full, just a last little fly for dessert...
The Wolf and the Fly combines story and guessing game. Together you can guess which object on the shelf will be eaten next, then, when everything re-emerges, the game starts anew. Fun.

When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullers          $33

A powerful memoir from one of the founders of Black Lives Matter
All the Dear Little Animals by Ulf Nilsson and Eva Eriksson       $18
Esther was very brave. I was little and scared. One summer’s day we started a business called Funerals Ltd, to help all the poor dead animals in the world. Esther did the digging, I wrote the poems, and Esther’s little brother, Puttie, cried.
An excellent, gentle, unsentimental book about death, from a child's perspective. 
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum         $25
A novel in which three generations of Palestinian-American women struggle to express their individual desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community.

You Can Only Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time: Rules for couples by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast       $35
e.g. "It is easier to stay inside and wait for the snow to melt than to fight about who should shovel." Roz Chast is, well, Roz Chast. 
>>Some samples!

Dangerous Experiments for After Dinner by Kendra Wilson, David Hopkins and Angus Hyland         $30
Bored of the same old dinner-party chitchat? Spice up your soirees, impress your guests and show up your brother-in-law with these hilarious, and sometimes dangerous, after-dinner tricks and challenges. 21 cards display the step-by-step instructions and explanations of the science behind the tricks. From sabring a bottle of champagne to hammering a needle through a coin, each of these tricks is guaranteed to wow your guests.
>>Look inside the tin!

Saturday 18 January 2020

BOOKS @ VOLUME #161 (18.1.20)

Read out latest newsletter and find out about some excellent summer reading and literary events. 
Your Duck is My Duck is our Book of the Week this week. Each of Deborah Eisenberg's perfectly poised, preternaturally aware, precisely composed  and enjoyable stories carries the heft and resonance of novels (and take her about as long to write). 

Use the selector to choose your summer reading. 
Use the 'click and collect' function on our website to reserve your copies, or pay on-line for delivery anywhere. If you don't find what you're looking for here, come and talk to us: we have many other interesting books on our shelves — or browse our website
List #1: FICTION
List #4: FOOD & DRINK


The Toll ('Arc of Sythe' #3) by Neal Shusterman      {Reviewed by STELLA}
The 'Arc of a Scythe' series is now concluded with the third instalment, The Toll. Greyson Tolliver has been claimed by the Tonists, Citra and Rowan have disappeared, presumed drowned (or devoured by flesh-eating fish) when the floating island of Endura was destroyed, Scythe Goddard is all-powerful and set on world domination, and the Thunderhead is silent. For those who haven’t read the previous books (Scythe and Thunderhead) in this intense young-adult series, here’s a quick breakdown: Earth is no longer ruled by elected representatives or despots, nor heading towards oblivion due to climate crisis, overpopulation and lack of resources. The Thunderhead, an AI, all-seeing and all-knowing, keeps the planet in equilibrium in a practical, emotional and intellectual sense. The world population is kept in balance with available resources and, while humans can age and die naturally, many choose to reset (put the clock back) and live another life. To give humans some sense of chance, there is the Scythedom — a group of special ‘cullers’ — ethical and trained to impart death without pain and with consideration. Each Scythe has a yearly quota which they may not exceed and a code of honour which must be upheld. New apprentices are taken on every few years and here’s where the story begins. Citra and Rowan — two teenagers are chosen, much to their abhorrence, to be Scythe apprentices (no one likes the Scythes — they are the bogeymen who come a-knocking), and, strangely, their teacher, Scythe Faraday has chosen two but only one can succeed. Citra and Rowan are pitted against each other and the backdrop is a Scythedom on the edge of turmoil. Different factions are at loggerheads about the rules. Some, like Goddard, want more autonomy — their egos are huge and their desire to kill outweighs their responsibility to the Scythe purpose — to keep the population in check. In the first book, we follow the trials and tribulations of Citra and Rowan — the passions, power and loyalties that drive them and send them into fields of ethical dilemma. In the second book, Thunderhead, we are introduced in greater detail to the Thunderhead (especially through the flawed character of Greyson Tolliver), the larger world and machinations of the Scythedom, Nimbus agents (like the FBI), the Tonists (a religious cult), and the Unsavouries (those whom the Thunderhead has deemed unworthy and cut communication with). Driving through this is Goddard’s increasing influence and power, culminating in a dramatic moment for the Scythedom and devastation for Citra and Rowan. It’s a cliffhanger book 2! So The Toll has been highly anticipated by fans. Greyson Tolliver plays a larger role in this book as the Toll — the only human left with open contact to the Thunderhead. Everyone else has been rendered 'unsavoury' and is no longer able to make direct contact with the AI. This is shocking for the human population who have had the Thunderhead (all-hearing, all-seeing) with them since birth — always there, always caring, and always knowing what was best. We are also introduced a new cast of characters. Jericho, a gender-fluid Madagascan captain on a salvage ship; Loriana, a Nimbus agent who comes into her own; and Scythes from the southern Americas and African sub-continent. Further developed is the archivist and librarian Munira, and Scythe Faraday is back in the mix. As the tension builds with the further rise of Goddard the plot picks up to a rip-roaring pace. Fear and power are his tools and while some resist, they are easily cut down as Goddard’s influence increases. Yet The Toll has a quiet power and The Thunderhead is using all its capacities to make the world better again. There are some excellent reflective moments in The Toll with the Thunderhead becoming a more conscious being — moving from perfection to doubt to improvement (possibly). Shusterman keeps the pace going but does not shy from moments of quiet and solitude — time for his characters to figure out who they are and what they desire. The 'Arc of a Scythe' series is more than an action-packed dystopia, it lays out a question for us to consider — what kind of future world do we desire and can this be a hopeful one?  


Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett     {Reviewed by THOMAS}
“English, strictly speaking, is not my first language by the way. I haven’t yet discovered what my first language is so for the time being I use English words in order to say things.” Always hinting at experience just beyond the reach of language, Bennett's remarkable book is impelled by the rigours of noticing. Encounters with persons and with the infraordinary are treated with equivalence: acute, highly acute, overly acute, observations immediately plunge the narrator’s awareness into the depths of her response (“My head is turned by imagined elsewheres and hardly at all by present circumstances.”), far from the surface at which outward contact may be made, or may be being made, a process that is both deeply isolating, terrifying and protective. Bennett’s unsparingly acute observations of the usually unacknowledged or unacknowledgeable motivations, urges and responses that underlie human interaction and quotidian existence seem here induced by an acceptance or a resignation that is enabled by despair, or is indistinguishable from despair, both a resignation and a panic, perhaps, a panic on the edge of self-dissolution which is perhaps our last resistance to self-dissolution and therefore fundamental to individual existence: the anxiety which all human activity is designed to conceal. Bennett’s is a very individual voice (click here to hear her read a sample), resonating at times with other works of irredeemably isolated interiority, such David Markson’s superb  Wittgenstein’s Mistress or the suppressed hysteria of Thomas Bernhard’s narrators, but tracking entirely her own patterns of thought (I have perhaps made an error here of conflating the author with the narrator, but, if this is an error, it is one hard to avoid in the book in which style and content are inseparable) with an immediacy that precludes the artificially patterning, pseudo-assimilable explanation of a ‘story’. In one excellent section, ‘Control Knobs’, the narrator describes the gradual disintegration of the three knobs that control her cooker and speculates a coming time when the last interchangeable knob breaks and the cooker will become unusable. This reminds her of the counted matches in Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall (another novel of irredeemably isolated interiority), which mark the time to the point at which that narrator will no longer be able to light a fire to cook and warm herself. Following a discussion of Bennett’s narrator’s reading and misreading of that book, she returns to an account of the ultimate hopelessness of her attempts to procure new knobs for her cooker. “I feel at a loss for about ten minutes and it’s a sensation, I realise, not dissimilar to indifference. So, naturally, I handle it rather well.”