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.
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.