Friday 26 June 2020



>> Read all Stella's reviews.



Whose Story is This? Old conflicts, new chapters by Rebecca Solnit    {Reviewed by STELLA}
In her most recent collection of essays, Rebecca Solnit continues her discussions and observations on the political and social structures that shape power relationships. Looking at the major issues — race, gender, climate — and the major movements — Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Standing Rock, Climate Strike — Solnit digs into the language of power and the depths of these activisms. Who gets to be heard? Who is telling the story? And where did these stories come from? The collection is sub-titled Old Conflicts, New Chapters. In her introduction, 'Cathedrals and Alarm Clocks', her tone is upbeat — she sees the recent rise in collective action as a questioning of the structures which have kept the elite, predominately men, in power and their needs protected and justified. “You can see change itself happening, if you watch and keep track of what was versus what is...the arising of new ways of naming how women have been  oppressed and erased, heard the insistence that the oppression and erasure will no longer be acceptable or invisible.” And this change comes through the power of language — words that define, record and speak out: “This project of building new cathedrals for new constituencies….the real work is not to convert those who hate us but to change the world so that haters don’t hold disproportionate power”. In the essays that follow some of the facts and figures on sexual assault, racial crimes and the legislative changes that attempt to control the autonomous body and the choices people — women — can make about their own bodies are dispiriting. Yet it is the resistance to these actions through direct protest, legal avenues and political channels that have culminated into a perfect storm — a storm that Solnit is clear to point out resides in the now and in the actions of the past. Resistance to hatred, abuse and control is not new and has not been ineffectual, even when it has been silent. While the essays focus on American politics and culture, Solnit’s observations are relevant wherever you happen to reside: the same power structures exist and persist in all places. As our societies become more diverse, so too comes the opportunity to have more just and equal ones. In several of her essays, Solnit touches on the growing diversity of the voting population and what this means for American politics. With younger politicians, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez for example (who was inspired to stand for Congress by Standing Rock), a new generation, Greta Thunberg and the School Climate Strike movement and indigenous voices holding sway in political arenas, it does feel like a time of change  even in the face of the counter megaphonic voices of Trump and Boris. Solnit’s essays are always interesting, thought-provoking and rich. Her ability to bring yesterday’s dissent into today’s realm and tie these historic important actions to what happens now and next, her clarity of thought and exploration of language and how words play an important role in acting out injustices and taking action to overcome silenced lives makes Solnit a voice to be read by everyone, especially those in positions of privilege. I read this last year, but in light of our present socio-political situation, it is even more relevant now. 

 >> Read all Thomas's reviews. 

One-Way Street by Walter Benjamin    {Reviewed by THOMAS}
What form would literature take if it was the expression of the organising principles of an urban street rather than those of literary tradition? Between 1923 and 1926, Walter Benjamin wrote a series of unconventional prose pieces in which “script — after having found, in the book, a refuge in which it can lead an autonomous existence — is pitilessly dragged out into the street by advertisement and subjected to the brutal heteronomies of economic chaos.” On the street, text, long used to being organised on the horizontal plane in a book, is hoisted upon the vertical plane, and, having been long used to a temporal arrangement like sediment, layer upon layer, page upon page, text is spread upon a single plane, requiring movement from instance to instance, walking or, ultimately, scrolling across a single temporal surface, a surface whose elements are contiguous or continuous or referential by leaps, footnotes perhaps to a text that does not exist, rather than a structure in three dimensions. Even though Benjamin did not live to see a scroll bar or a touch screen or a hyperlink he was acutely aware of the changes in the relationship between persons and texts that would arrive at these developments. “Without exception the great writers perform their combinations in a world that comes after them,” he wrote, not ostensibly of himself. As we move through a text, through time, along such one-way streets, our attention is drawn away from the horizontal, from the dirt (the dirt made by ourselves and others), away from where we stand and walk, and towards the vertical, the plane of desire, of advertising, towards the front (in all the meanings of that word), towards what is not yet. It is not for nothing that our eyes are near the top of our bodies and directed towards the front, and naturally see where we wish to be more easily than where we are (which would require us to bend our bodies forwards and undo our structural evolution). In the one-way street of urban text delineated by Benjamin, all detail has an equivalence of value, “all things, by an irreversible process of mingling and contamination, are losing their intrinsic character, while ambiguity displaces authenticity.” The elitism of ‘the artwork’ is supplanted by the vigour of ‘the document’: “Artworks are remote from each other in the perfection [but] all documents communicate through their subject matter. In the artwork, subject matter is ballast jettisoned by contemplation [but] the more one loses oneself in a document, the denser the subject matter grows. In the artwork, the formal law is central [but] forms are merely dispersed in documents.” What sort of document is Benjamin’s street? It is a place where detail overwhelms form, a place where the totality is subdued by the fragment, where the walker is drawn to detritus over the crafted, to the fumbled over the competent, to the ephemeral over the permanent. The street is the locus of the personalisation and privatisation of experience, its particularisation no longer communal or mediated by tradition but haphazard, aspirational, transitory, improvised. Each moment is a montage. Writing is assembled from the fragments of other writing. Residue finds new value, the stain records meaning, detritus becomes text. In the one-way street, particularities are grouped by type and by association, not by hierarchy or by value. The here and now of the street is filled with referents to other times and other places. The overlooked, the mislaid, the abandoned object is a point of access to overlooked or mislaid or abandoned mental material, often distant in both time and space, memories or dreams. Objects are hyperlinked to memories but are also representatives of the force that drives those experiences into the past, towards forgetting. But the street is the interface of detritus and commerce. Money, too, enables contact with objects and mediates their meaning. New objects promise the opportunity of connection but also, through multiplication, abrade the particularity of that connection. Benjamin’s sixty short texts are playful or mock-playful, ambivalent or mock-ambivalent, tentative or mock-tentative, analytic or mock-analytic, each springing from a sign or poster or inscription in the street, skidding or mock-skidding through the associations, mock-associations, responses and mock-responses they provoke, eschewing the false progress of narrative and other such novelistic artificialities, compiling a sort of archive of ways both of reading a street as text and of writing text as a street, a text describing a person who walks there. 

No Maori Allowed: New Zealand's forgotten history of racial segregation by Robert Bartholomew        $26
There was a time when Maori were barred from public toilets, segregated at the cinema and swimming pools, refused alcohol, haircuts and taxi rides, forced to stand for white bus passengers and not allowed to attend school with other students. It happened in the South Auckland town of Pukekohe in the twentieth century. Using records from the National Archives and first-hand interviews, No Maori Allowed looks at what happened in Pukekohe and the extent of racial intolerance across the country at this time. In Hamilton, stores refused to let them try on pants, on Karangahape Road in Auckland, shop signs read No Credit for Maori. Councils jacked up prices for state houses to keep them out of white neighbourhoods, hospitals had segregated maternity wards and gave them less expensive cutlery, and banks and shops held official policies of not hiring Maori. 
>>The book was apparently rejected by publishers for being "too pro-Maori".
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld         $37
What if Hilary Rodham had turned down Bill Clinton's proposal of marriage? How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?
"Brilliantly re-imagined and enjoyable." —Guardian

Last Vanities by Fleur Jaeggy            $32
These seven stories do not take long to read but the images in them will be embedded in your mind for a long time, so precisely sharp are Jaeggy’s tiny burrs of observed detail. The stories typically begin in the fantastic but resolve in what may be the actual, the actual as experienced on many levels at once, the small made large and the large made small, perhaps as Jaeggy alone experiences the actual.

Humankind: A hopeful history by Rutger Bregman       $35
From 'the folk hero of Davos', Fox News antagonist and author of the international bestseller Utopia for Realists comes a radical history of our innate capacity for kindness. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Pinker, human beings are taught that we are by nature selfish and governed primarily by self-interest. Providing a new historical perspective on the last 200,000 years of human history, Humankind makes a new argument — that it is realistic, as well as revolutionary, to assume that people are good. When we think the worst of others, it brings out the worst in our politics and economics too.
"Humankind challenged me and made me see humanity from a fresh perspective." —Yuval Noah Harari
Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty        $37
From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, 15-year-old Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries of his intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as a teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning. "In writing this book," Dara explains, "I have experienced challenges but also felt incredible joy, wonder, curiosity and excitement. In sharing this journey my hope is that people of all generations will not only understand autism a little more but also appreciate a child's eye view on our delicate and changing biosphere."
>>Taking the world by storm
Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami          $38
A novel exploring the inner conflicts of an adolescent girl who refuses to communicate with her mother except through writing. Through the story of these women, Kawakami paints a portrait of womanhood in contemporary Japan, probing questions of gender and beauty norms and how time works on the female body.
>>Kawakami gives a feminist critique of Haruki Murakami's novels. 
I Don't Expect Anyone to Believe Me by Juan Pablo Villalobos       $38
"I don't expect anyone to believe me," warns the narrator of this novel, a Mexican student called Juan Pablo Villalobos. He is about to fly to Barcelona on a scholarship when he's kidnapped in a bookshop and whisked away by thugs to a basement. The gangsters are threatening his cousin, who is gagged and tied to a chair. The thugs say Juan Pablo must work for them. His mission? To make Laia, the daughter of a corrupt politician, fall in love with him. He accepts, though not before the crime boss has forced him at gunpoint into a discussion on the limits of humour in literature. Bonkers.

The Motion of the Body through Space by Lionel Shriver         $35
Shriver's new novel draws on her own experience as an exercise obsessive, and is also shot through with her contrarian views on cultural appropriation. 
"Scabrously funny. The Motion of the Body Through Space is proof, if it were needed, that Shriver’s natural response to an open wound is to pour on more salt. Few authors can be as entertainingly problematic as Shriver." —Guardian
Night Thoughts by Wallace Shawm          $35
Although he is guided and inspired by the people he respects, and despite the insufficiency of his knowledge and experience — an insufficiency shared by most (or all) other humans, Wallace Shawn can't see any real alternative to trying to figure out his own answers to the most essential questions about the world he lives in.Having recently passed the age of seventy, before which he found it difficult to piece together more than a few fragments of understanding, Shawn would like to pass on anything he's learned before death or dementia close down the brief window available to him, but he may not be ready yet.
>>Wallace Shawm talks with Paula Morris
>>My Dinner with Andre.
Necropolis by Boris Pahor         $25
Pahor spent the last fourteen months of World War II as a prisoner and medic in the Nazi camps at Bergen-Belsen, Harzungen, Dachau and Natzweiler-Struthof. Twenty years later, as he visited the preserved remains of a camp, his experiences came back to him: the emaciated prisoners; the ragged, zebra-striped uniforms; the infirmary reeking of dysentery and death. 
Yes to Life — In spite of everything by Viktor E. Frankl         $30
Available in English for the first time, this collection of talks delivered just months after Frankl's liberation from Auschwitz reveal how he developed his life-affirming philosophies in the most horrific circumstances. 
Days in the Caucasus by Banine          $30
In her extraordinary memoir of an 'odd, rich, exotic' childhood — of growing up in Azerbaijan in the turbulent early twentieth century, caught between East and West, tradition and modernity. Banine remembers her luxurious home, with endless feasts of sweets and fruit; her beloved, flaxen-haired German governess; her imperious, swearing, strict Muslim grandmother; her bickering, poker-playing, chain-smoking relatives. She recalls how the Bolsheviks came, and everything changed. How, amid revolution and bloodshed, she fell passionately in love, only to be forced into marriage with a man she loathed — until the chance of escape arrived. First published in 1945 and only now translated into English.
The Address Book: What our street addresses tell us about identity, race, wealth and power by Deirdre Mark          $40
From Ancient Rome to Kolkata today, from cholera epidemics to tax hungry monarchs, Mask discovers the different ways street names are created, celebrated, and in some cases, banned. Filled with fascinating people and histories, this incisive, entertaining book shows how addresses are about identity, class and race. But most of all they are about power: the power to name, to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn't, and why.
Just Another Mountain by Sarah Jane Douglas           $27
When her mother died of breast cancer when Sarah Jane Douglas was 24, she set off to walk the mountains of Scotland in her mother's footsteps. As she walked, she came to accept her grief and her own troubled past, and to come to a new and deeper relationship with nature. 

I Want You to Know We're Still Here by Esther Safran Foer        $38
The child of parents who were each the sole survivors of their respective families, for Esther the Holocaust loomed in the backdrop of daily life, felt but never discussed. Even as she built a successful career, married, and raised three children, Esther always felt herself searching. So when Esther's mother mentions that her father had a previous wife and daughter, both killed in the Holocaust, Esther resolves to find out who they were, and to learn how her father survived.

The Garden of Inside-Outside by Chiara Mezzalama        $30
In the summer of 1981, Chiara and her family join their father in Iran. At their beautiful palace, there is an inside and an outside, separated by a wall. Inside, there is a wild garden where princes and princesses used to walk. Outside, in the black city, there are soldiers with heavy boots and bombs. One day, a boy from outside climbs the wall into the garden. The garden no longer feels inpenetrable but Chiara has made a friend, Massoud, who will keep the secret of the inside-outside. Inspired by the childhood of the author, whose father was appointed Italian ambassador to Tehran in 1980, this picture book is a beautiful evocation of a country struck by war, where friendship arises despite the rising walls.
The Other's Gold by Elizabeth Ames          $33
As they move through their university years to their days as new parents, each of four friends make a terrible mistake. With one part of the novel devoted to each mistake — the Accident, the Accusation, the Kiss, and the Bite — this novel reveals the ways life-defining turning points prompt our relationships to unravel and re-knit, as the women discover what they and their loved ones are capable of, and capable of forgiving.
>>The intersection of obliteration and power
El Deafo by Cece Bell           $20
A funny, deeply honest graphic novel memoir for middle graders. It chronicles the author's hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with a powerful and very awkward hearing aid called the Phonic Ear. It gives her the ability to hear--sometimes things she shouldn't--but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her, Phonic Ear and all. Finally, she is able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become 'El Deafo, Listener for All'. And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she's longed for.
Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 wonders of the word by Paul Fleischman and Melissa Sweet         $30
Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote his memoirs by blinking his left eyelid, unable to move the rest of his body. Frederic Cassidy was obsessed with the language of place, and after posing hundreds of questions to folks all over the United States, amassed (among other things) 176 words for dust bunnies. Georges Perec wrote a novel without using the letter e (so well that at least one reviewer didn't notice its absence), then followed with a novella in which e was the only vowel. A love letter to all those who love words, language, writing, writers, and stories, Alphamaniacs is a illustrated collection of mini-biographies about the most daring and peculiar of writers.
This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else: Joy Division, the oral history by Jon Savage         $45
Jon Savage's oral history of Joy Division is the last word on the band that ended with the suicide of Ian Curtis in Macclesfield on 18 May, 1980. It weaves together interviews conducted by the author, but never used in the making of the film Joy Division (2007) which told the story of the band in their own words, as well as those of their peers, collaborators, and contemporaries. Now in paperback. 
>>'I Remember Nothing'.
Unorthodox: The scandalous rejection of my Hasidic roots by Deborah Feldman          $33
The memoir of a young woman's escape from the repressive Satmar Hasidic sect that became a Netflix series. 
Every Now and Then I Have Another Child by Diane Brown         $30
A mysterious doppelgänger sister, a newborn baby, a boy in a mural, a detective, a former lover, a student stalker... are they real or imagined? Building on Diane Brown's tradition of extended poetic narratives, Every Now and Then I Have Another Child is a meditation on motherhood, the creative impulse and the blurred line between imagination and reality. 

Saturday 20 June 2020

BOOKS @ VOLUME #183 (20.6.20)

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>> Read all Stella's reviews.



Burn by Patrick Ness        {Reviewed by STELLA}
In this thrilling novel, the unexpected occurs in 1950s America. Sarah Dewhurst is a teen living in the small rural community of Frome. Since her mother’s death, life has been tough — her father, caring but distant, is struggling to keep the farm working and the debts at bay. The fields need to be cleared ready for ploughing and planting, but they just don’t have the manpower. Hiring a dragon is their only choice. Yes, in this America there are dragons. A fragile co-existence between dragons and humans has existed for hundreds of years but something is brewing. Add to this, Sarah’s own problems of encountering racial prejudice in a small town (she’s the product of a bi-racial marriage) and her ‘secret’ relationship with American Japanese Jacob draws more unwanted attention, is drawing the heat, especially from the local Sheriff, the despicable Kerby. When her father hires the Russian Blue to fire the fields clear, Sarah’s life gets even more complicated. Kazimir is not just working on the farm, he seems to be taking an interest in Sarah’s affairs. The relationship between the young woman and dragon (who’s young at 200 years) develops as the story progresses and a prophecy plays out. An ordinary young woman will save the world. She will be in the right place, at the right time. Kazimir has been sent to Frome as the prophecy predicted. And he is not the only being descending on this rural town. A boy assassin, Malcolm,  trained from a young age, is making the lonely journey from the wastes of Canada. He is a Believer, highly trained and fanatically focused in his mission which will see Sarah Dewhurst dead and the cult’s leader exalted, the true mother of them all, Mitera Thea. Also hot on the trail of Malcolm are FBI agents Paul Dernovitch and Veronica Woolf. All these journeys will not be as expected. Malcolm will meet Nelson and he will learn something new about himself, Sarah will discover that death and life can be points in time with different consequences, Kazimir finds friendship with a human and Agent Woolf’s study of dragons will surprise even her. As the Russians launch a satellite the action comes to its devastating conclusion on an unassuming country road - the violent apex of the journey is reached. But no, not yet. Part three of the book will take you even further. Into the multidimensional where the prophecy will come true and where Sarah, Kazimir and Malcolm will need, and find, the conviction and hope to face a great challenger. A challenger who has no qualms about absolute destruction to gain absolute power. A deftly layered plot and excellent writing from the ever-fascinating mind of Patrick Ness, Burn is glorious in its fiery action and touching at its honest heart.

 >> Read all Thomas's reviews. 


The White Dress by Nathalie Léger (translated by Natasha Lehrer)   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
Léger set out to write this book as an attempt to understand something of the fate of the Italian performance artist Pippa Bacca, who set out to hitch-hike from Milan to Jerusalem wearing a wedding dress and recording her journey and encounters on a video camera, “To prove,” as Pippa Bacca said, “that when you show trust you receive nothing but goodness.” She was raped and murdered, and her body was found in a shallow grave in Turkey. Léger recognises that there is something inauthentic, something lacking, in Bacca’s artistic gesture, but wants to believe that “even when artists are heavy-handed, when their ideas are confused, when their questions fail in some way, their performances nonetheless stubbornly articulate something true.” But the more thought she gives her project, the further she gets from understanding, if there was even anything to understand. Léger bemoans her “heartbreaking inability to understand this girl’s story, [her] inability to grasp what was simultaneously significant and trivial in her gesture, and probably beyond comprehension.” Is it beyond naive to believe that art can ameliorate violence? “This foolishness, this over-the-top, sentimental gesture was without doubt a grand gesture, and a grand gesture might also be a failed gesture. Just because something has failed doesn’t mean that it was a good idea in the first place.” Léger travels to Milan intending to interview Pippa Bacca’s mother but has a crisis of purpose, and kind of breakdown, and instead returns to France to lie on her own mother’s sofa. As she lies there in a melancholy stupor, her mother brings her a dossier of papers and pleads for Léger to give her the ‘justice’ she has always been denied. At first this triggers a flood of unhappy childhood memories in Leger, of her father’s lovelessness and aggression, and of a mother whose “entire life was made up of the ordeal of her abandonment, and we were dragged along in the wake of her sadness.” Léger’s account slips from first to third person where her early trauma is still raw. But, she realises, her mother “was too kind, incapable of shielding herself from the most banal cruelty, incapable of getting over it, incapable of anything but crying, I never helped her, I never stood up for her.” What is it her mother is asking of her? “All you need to be is my seismograph,” her mother says, “you wouldn’t have to do much, just listen and describe, simply describe, capture the wave of a far-off disturbance before it gets lost in the dust, it would be so little to you and so much to me.” Gradually her mother’s trauma emerges from under the trauma of an unhappy childhood. We learn of her father’s infidelity and abandonment of her mother, and the dossier contains the proceedings of the divorce court that allowed the unjust denigration of her mother but disallowed her the opportunity to speak in her own defence. “Vengeance is not a straight line,” says Léger’s mother, “it is a forest. It’s easy to lose the way, to get lost, to forget why one is there at all.” But the mother’s vengeance now comes as words composed by her daughter, words that give the voice back to the mother, the voice denied her in court in 1974, the vengeance is Léger’s narrative, the many permutations of narrative, this book, the fugues of narrative arrayed on commas describing the fatal breakdown of her parents’ marriage. By failing, Léger succeeds. Trauma can only be overcome by failing to overcome it and being aware of that failure. Art only succeeds to the extent that it fails. Leger looks at photographs of Pippa Bacca’s murderer taken a few days after her murder, at his niece’s wedding, and is distressed to see no trace on his face of his violence. He is bland and ordinary. Pippa Bacca’s attacker used her video camera to film the wedding. “He raped her, he killed her … and finally he stole her gaze.” Léger watches the footage as he turns the camera on himself: “He’s laughing. He’s happy. Behind his smug face the sky is empty. All narrative is annihilated.” 

Friday 19 June 2020

The Mirror Steamed Over: Love and pop in London, 1962 by Anthony Byrt is our Book of the Week this week. Byrt looks at a key moment in the development of pop and conceptual art through the relationships between New Zealander Barrie Bates (who became Billy Apple), painter David Hockney, and writer Ann Quin. The book is hugely readable and enjoyable, and provides perspective on a period of remarkable possibility and change.
>>Anthony Byrt talks with Lynn Freeman
>>Anthony Byrt talks with Paula Morris
>>Being Billy Apple
>>The centre of the extended continental shelf of New Zealand. 
>>Billy Apple with music. 
>>Billy Apple: Life/work is forthcoming from AUP in October. Place your order now. 
>>The official David Hockney website
>>Hockney for children.
>>The world is beautiful
>>A peculiar fish without fins
>>Ann Quinn and Deborah Levy.
>>Narcissist or voyeur? 
>>Her body or the sea
>>Some books by Ann Quin
>>Some books by or about David Hockney
>>This Model World
>>Your copy

The Mirror Steamed Over: Love and pop in London, 1962 by Anthony Byrt         $45
In the early sixties at the Royal College of Art in London, three extraordinary personalities collided to reshape contemporary art and literature. Barrie Bates (who would become Billy Apple in November 1962) was an ambitious young graphic designer from New Zealand, who transformed himself into one of pop art's pioneers. At the same time, his friend and fellow student David Hockney - young, Northern and openly gay - was making his own waves in the London art world. Bates and Hockney travelled together, bleached their hair together, and, despite being two of London's rising art stars, almost failed art school together. And in the middle of it all was the secretary of the Royal College's Painting School - a young novelist called Ann Quin. Quin ghost-wrote her lover Bates's dissertation and collaborated with him on a manifesto, all the while writing Berg, the experimental novel that would establish her as one of the British literary scene's most exciting new voices. Taking us back to London's art scene in the late fifties and early sixties, Byrt illuminates a key moment in cultural history and tackles big questions: Where did Pop and conceptual art come from? How did these three young outsiders change British culture? And what was the relationship between revolutions in personal and sexual identities and these major shifts in contemporary art?
>>Byrt talks with Paula Morris
The Dominant Animal by Kathryn Scanlan        $23
Anonymous people in anonymous towns; mothers screaming inside their houses, unapologetic doctors, mournful dogs, hungry girls, grandmothers on the couch tethered in a blue spell, steaks in soft sacks of blue blood, rare breeds of show cats in big black sedans, baby rabbits beneath heavy boots; and lonesome men crouched among the thorny shrubs and the rough, wild grasses... With the economy of Lydia Davis and Grace Paley, and the unsettling verve of Mary Gaitskill and Claire-Louise Bennett, The Dominant Animal is a powerful short story collection.
>>Are we still the 'dominant animal' — and what even could that mean? 
Landfall 239 edited by Emma Neale          $30
ARTISTS: Vita Cochran, Star Gossage, Robert West: AWARDS & COMPETITIONS: Results from the 2020 Charles Brasch Young Writers' Essay Competition; WRITERS: John Adams, Johanna Aitchison, John Allison, Shaun Bamber, Tony Beyer, Iain Britton, Medb Charleton, Ruth Corkill, Doc Drumheller, Mark Edgecombe, Lynley Edmeades, David Eggleton, Johanna Emeney, Rhys Feeney, Michael Giacon, Carolyn Gillum, Patricia Grace, Eliana Gray & Jordan Hamel, Isabel Haarhaus, Bernadette Hall, Sarah Harpur, Jenna Heller, Stephanie Johnson, Erik Kennedy, Brent Kininmont, Megan Kitching, Claire Lacey, Leonard Lambert, Malinna Liang, Emer Lyons, Carolyn McCurdie, Cilla McQueen, Owen Marshall, Talia Marshall, Zoë Meager, James Norcliffe, Keith Nunes, Kotuku Tithuia Nuttall, Vincent O'Sullivan, Leanne Radojkovich, essa may ranapiri, Gillian Roach, Pip Robertson, Jo-Ella Sarich, Tim Saunders, Sarah Scott, Sarah Shirley, Elizabeth Smither, Charlotte Steel, Nicola Thorstensen, Rushi Vyas, Susan Wardell.
A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ni Ghriofa         $38
A blend of essay and autofiction exploring the inner life and the deep connection felt between two writers centuries apart. In the 1700s, an Irish noblewoman, on discovering her husband has been murdered, drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary poem. In the present day, a young mother narrowly avoids tragedy. On encountering the poem, she becomes obsessed with its parallels with her own life, and sets out to track down the rest of the story. By reaching into the past and finding another woman's voice, a woman frees her own. 
Blueberries by Ellena Savage        $38
A blend of personal essay, polemic, prose poetry, true-crime journalism and confession that considers a fragmented life, reflecting on what it means to be a woman, a body, an artist. It is both a memoir and an interrogation of memoir.
"Blueberries feels like lying down on the train tracks and looking up at the sky—a reverie, shot through by a feeling of acceleration, of something vast coming at you." —Maria Tumarkin

This Happy by Niamh Campbell          $38
When Alannah was twenty-three, she met a man who was older than her - a married man - and fell in love. Things happened suddenly. They met in April, in the first bit of mild weather; and in August, they went to stay in rural Ireland, overseen by the cottage's landlady. It did not end well. Six years later, when Alannah is newly married to another man, she sees the landlady from afar. Memories of those days spent in bliss, then torture, return to her.
"This is an exquisite thing. At once forensic and yet deeply passionate, detached and yet deeply moving." —Danny Denton

Second Person by Rata Gordon        $25
Rata Gordon’s first poetry collection is both graceful and restless, sorrowful and witty. In poems about childhood, travelling, the body and the earth, Gordon describes the freedom and disorientation we find in unfamiliar places, and the way that our longings and imaginings animate our lives.

Lisette's Green Sock by Catharina Valckx        $30
One day Lisette finds a pretty green sock. She's delighted, until some bullies begin to tease her: socks should come in pairs; what use is one sock? Lisette searches and searches, but she cannot find the sock's missing mate. Fortunately, her friend Bert helps her see the situation in a new way.

Falastin: A cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley         $60
Sami Tamimi wrote the wonderful Jerusalem with Yotam Ottolenghi (who contributes a foreword to this book), and here returns to present the recipes, cuisine and stories of the Palestinians of Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, Nablus, Haifa, Akka, Nazareth, Galilee and the West Bank. 

Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh         $38
The eagerly anticipated new novel from the author of The Water Cure, enquiring into the natures of free will and motherhood. Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And, once you've taken your ticket, there is no going back. But what if the life you're given is the wrong one?
"The cool intensity and strange beauty of Blue Ticket is a wonder. Be sure to read everything Sophie Mackintosh writes." —Deborah Levy
The Restaurant: A history of eating out by William Sitwell       $60
Sitwell is good, witty company at tables from Pompeii to the present, tracing influences from an ancient traveller of the Muslim world, revelling in the unintended consequences for nascent fine dining of the French Revolution, revealing in full hideous glory the post-Second World War dining scene in the UK and fathoming the birth of sensitive gastronomy in the US counterculture of the 1960s.

Winter in Sokcho by Élisa Shua Dusapin      $23
It's winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down: the fish turn venomous, bodies are red and raw, beyond the beach guns point out from the North's watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives, a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape. As she begins accompanying him on his trips to discover his idea of an authentic Korea, the two of them begin an uneasy relationship filled with suspended misunderstandings and punctuated by spilled ink. They visit snowy mountaintops, take daytrips to dramatic waterfalls, cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows - the gaudy and beautiful neon lights, the fish market where her mother guts squid and puffer fish, the evening meals she prepares meticulously for the guesthouse. As she's pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen. 
"Dusapin’s terse sentences are at times staggeringly beautiful. Oiled with a brooding tension that never dissipates or resolves, Winter in Sokcho is a noirish cold sweat of a book." —Guardian
Jakob von Gunten by Robert Walser          $23
Based on Walser's own experiences in a training school for servants, this novel tells of a young man who turns his back on wealth and opportunity and attends the unusual Institut Benjamenta, with the goal of becoming "something very small and subordinate later in life". A new edition, with an introduction by J.M. Coetzee. 
>>Thomas on Walser
Te Manu Huna a Tane by Jenny Gillam et al       $45
A photographic record of a wananga for three generations of women from Ngati Torehina ki Mataka to learn the customary practice of pelting North Island brown kiwi so their feathers can be used for weaving. This passing on of customary knowledge developed out of a partnership between conservationists and weavers that returned accidentally killed kiwi to the hapu of the rohe or district in which they were found.
Unfinished Business: Notes of a chronic re-reader by Vivian Gornick        $26
From a young New York reporter, to a critic exploring gender and feminism, to a woman in the jubilant solitude of older age- the characters Gornick meets in literature speak to the person she is when reading, and in reopening her favourite texts she meets characters anew.

Temptation by János Székely       $28
A rediscovered masterwork of twentieth-century fiction, telling of a young man coming of age in Budapest between the wars. Illegitimate and unwanted, Béla is packed off to the country to be looked after by a peasant woman the moment he is born. She starves and bullies him, and keeps him out of school. He does his best to hold his own, and eventually his mother brings him back to live with her in the city. In thrall to his feckless father, Mishka, and living in a crowded tenement, she works her fingers to the bone, while Béla shares a room with a hardworking prostitute. Finally, Béla secures a job in a fancy hotel. Though exhausted by endless work, he is fascinated by the upper-crust world that his new job exposes him to; soon he is embroiled with a rich, damaged, and dangerous woman. The atmosphere of Budapest is increasingly poisoned by the appeal of fascism, while Béla grows ever more aware of how power and money keep down the working classes. In the end, with all the odds still against him, he musters the resolve to set sail for a new future. A new translation by Mark Baczoni. 
Mother: An unconventional history by Sarah Knott        $26
What was mothering like in the past? When historian Sarah Knott became pregnant, she asked herself this question. But accounts of motherhood are hard to find. For centuries, historians have concerned themselves with wars, politics and revolutions, not the everyday details of carrying and caring for a baby. Much to do with becoming a mother, past or present, is lost or forgotten. Using the arc of her own experience, from miscarriage to the birth and early babyhood of her two children, and drawing on letters, diaries, court records and paintings, Sarah Knott explores the ever-changing experiences of maternity across the ages. From the labour pains felt by an enslaved woman to the triumphant smile of a royal mistress bearing a king's first son; from a 1950s suburban housewife to a working-class East Ender taking her baby to the factory; these lost stories of mothering create a moving depiction of an ever-changing human experience.
Sweet Time by Weng Pixin              $48
A charming, intimate graphic rumination on love, empathy, and confidence. Singaporean cartoonist Weng Pixin delicately explores strained relationships with a kind of hopefulness while acknowledging their inevitable collapse. 
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