Friday 25 September 2020



The Appointment by Katharina Wolckmer         $30
In a well-appointed examination in London, a young woman unburdens herself to a certain Dr Seligman. Though she can barely see above his head, she holds forth about her life and desires, and her struggles with her sexuality and identity. Born and raised in Germany, she has been living in London for several years, determined to break free from her family origins and her haunted homeland. In a monologue that is both razor-sharp and subversively funny, she takes us on a wide-ranging journey from outré sexual fantasies and overbearing mothers to the medicinal properties of squirrel tails and the enduring legacy of shame. With The Appointment, Volckmer challenges our notions of what is fluid and what is fixed and injects a dose of Bernhardian snark into contemporary British fiction.
"Surprising, inventive, disturbing and beautiful – The Appointment is an overdue, radical intervention." — Chris Kraus
"A book destined to enter the list of great monologues of literary history. If Dostoevsky’s underground man had read both Thomas Bernhard and Maggie Nelson, he might have conjured something as brave as this." — Carlos Fonseca
"The Appointment is an epic truth bomb, a radical, hilarious roller-coaster, raw and wild as they come. The way this novel delights in itself, taking pleasure in its singularity and perversity, is the perfect antidote to boredom and bullshit. To read stories that are unapologetic is to be granted the courage to be more honest ourselves, which is one way literature actually can save the world." — Elisa Albert
A Musical Offering by Luis Sagasti (translated by Fionn Petch)      $36

In his final version of the Variations, Glenn Gould introduces a subtle, almost imperceptible change, breaking with the nocturnal circularity. As if he didn’t want the Count to sleep after all, condemning Goldberg to inhabit that wakeful night forever. The change occurs in the last beat of the final aria: an ornament that concludes the recording. Gould’s great contribution lies not in what he modifies, but in the very gesture of modification.
Tracing a circular course that echoes Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Luis Sagasti takes on the role of Scheherazade to recount us story after story, interwoven in subtle and surprising ways to create unexpected harmonies. He leads us on a journey from the music born of the sun to the music sent into space on the Voyager mission, from Rothko to rock music, from the composers of the concentration camps to a weeping room for Argentinian conscripts in the Falklands. A Musical Offering traverses the same shifting sands of fiction and history as the tales of Jorge Luis Borges, while also recalling the ‘constellation’ structure of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights
>>Internal harmonics

Broken Consort: Essays, reviews, and other writings by Will Eaves        $36
"We are taught by what we find … And what we find, we have to give away."
Broken Consort is a chronicle of close attention (to books, films, plays, paintings, music, notebooks and car-boot sales) which will confound anyone who thinks rigour and generosity are contradictory. It includes an account of the evolution of the author’s prize-winning novel Murmur, an essay on Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, and practical reflections on the business of writing.
"Curiosity may fuel every writers heart, but very often it’s coffee that powers the writer’s mind. When all the coffee runs out, we will be even more grateful for Will Eaves and his essays – each one a shot of artistic adrenalin and a euphoric psychostimulant." –Nancy Campbell
>>Read Thomas's review of Murmur

Red Pill by Hari Kunzru            $38
A writer on a residency in Berlin falls into a web of frightening associations through the internet. Red Pill is a novel about the alt-right, online culture, creativity, sanity and history. It tells the story of the 21st century through the prism of the centuries that preceded it, showing how the darkest chapters of our past haunt our present. More than anything, though, this is a novel about love and how it can endure in a world where everything else seems to have lost all meaning.    
Veilchenfeld by Gert Hofmann (translated by Eric Mace-Tessler)           $36
This remarkable novel, narrated by a young boy, begins and ends with the news of the death of Bernhard Israel Veichenfeld. Upon his dismissal from the university in Leipzig, Veilchenfeld, an elderly professor of philosophy, moves to live in a small town in Saxony at the beginning of 1936. After his existence as a Jew in this community becomes unbearable, he puts an end to his life in September 1938. Within this time frame the narrative reveals how Veilchenfeld is gradually deprived of all of his civil and human rights and subjected to various forms of physical and mental abuse. Numerous members of the small town community—his neighbors, his housekeeper, Nazi youth, low-level bureaucrats in the police and other city offices—become culprits in the persecution and humiliation of the old man.
"One of the best holocaust novels in German literature." –Milena Ganeva, Reference Guide to Holocaust Literature
Our Riches by Kaouther Adimi        $36
A wonderful novel for book lovers, based on the life of Edmond Charlot, the publisher best known for discovering Albert Camus and for opening the famed bookstore Les Vraies Richesses in Algiers, in 1936. Episodes from Charlot's life are intercut with the story of a young man who comes to clear and repaint the empty shop in 2017.
"An understated, lyrical story of reading and resistance over the tumultuous generations. A lovely book about books—and freedom." —Kirkus
"The truly potent effect of the book is that by taking on literary history from the underbelly of the French nation — from the colony just across the sea — Adimi confronts us with episodes that are simply never spoken of in France: the grand celebration of the end of World War II, in May 1945, which, in Algeria, turned into a massacre by the colonial administration; another massacre, this time in Paris, in 1961, of Algerian protesters, who were thrown into the Seine by French police officers. It is in unhappy nations, we are meant to understand, that history is a relentless companion." —Elisabeth Zerofsky - The New York Times
"If you're in a bookshop browsing, then Our Riches is for you, by definition. A beautiful little novel about books, history, ambition and the importance of literature to everyone, especially people who are trying to find a voice." —Nick Hornby
Bill & Shirley, A memoir by Keith Ovenden         $35
Bill Sutch and Shirley Smith were two of New Zealand's most significant twentieth-century figures: Sutch as an economist, influential civil servant, and inspirational proponent of innovation in the fields of social and economic development, and Smith as glass-ceiling breaker in the formerly male-dominated world of the law. Keith Ovenden's memoir begins with the early years of his marriage to Sutch and Smith's only child, Helen Sutch, and carries through Sutch's trial on charges under the Official Secrets Act to Smith's death over 30 years later. It offers unprecedented insights into both the accusations against Sutch and Smith's remarkable legal practice and, behind both, some of the dramas of their domestic life.
>>Helen Gaitanos's Shirley Smith: An examined life was short-listed for the 2020 Ockham Book Awards. 
Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald           $38
Animals don't exist to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves. From the acclaimed author of H is for Hawk comes Vesper Flights, a collection of essays about the human relationship to the natural world. Macdonald brings together a collection of her best-loved pieces, along with new essays on topics and stories ranging from nostalgia and science fiction to the true account of a refugee's flight to the UK, and from accounts of swan upping on the Thames to watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary to seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk's poplar forests. She writes about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds' nests, what we do when we watch wildlife and why.
Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates        $35
Imagine a world in which a vast network of misogynists is able to operate, virtually undetected. Imagine a world in which these extremists commit terrorist acts, united by their deep hatred of women. Imagine a world in which they groom and radicalise vulnerable teenage boys, shielded by veils of irony and 'banter'. Imagine a world in which their community swells to become an international movement, tens of thousands strong. You don't have to imagine that world... you already live in it. Laura Bates lifts the lid on the communities of men who hate women, going undercover, both on- and offline, to explore the ideology and impact they have worldwide. Chilling. 

The Girl Who Became a Tree by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner      $33
A YA novel told in poems and based on the Myth of Daphne and Apollo. Daphne is unbearably sad and adrift. She feels the painful loss of her father acutely and seeks solace both in the security of her local library and the escape her phone screen provides by blocking out the world around her. As Daphne tries to make sense of what has happened she recalls memories of shared times and stories past, and in facing the darkness she finds a way back from the tangle of fear and confusion, to feel connected once more with her friends and family.
Imperial Mud: The fight for the fens by James Boyce         $28
Between the English Civil Wars and the mid-Victorian period, the proud indigenous population of the Fens of eastern England fought to preserve their homeland against an expanding empire. After centuries of resistance, their culture and community were destroyed, along with their wetland home — England's last lowland wilderness. But this was no simple triumph of technology over nature — it was the consequence of a newly centralised and militarised state, which enriched the few while impoverishing the many. Boyce brings to life not only colonial masters such as Oliver Cromwell and the Dukes of Bedford, but also the defiant 'Fennish' themselves and their dangerous and often bloody resistance to the enclosing landowners. We learn of the eels so plentiful they became a kind of medieval currency; the games of 'Fen football' that were often a cover for sabotage of the drainage works; and the destruction of a bountiful ecosystem that had sustained the Fennish for thousands of years and which meant that they did not have to submit in order to survive.
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine        $40
Through a series of exquisitely observed autobiographical sketches in the form of a journal, Adrian Tomine explores his life in comics — from an early moment on the playground being bullied, to a more recent experience, lying on a gurney in the hospital, and having the nurse say 'Hey! You're that cartoonist!' As he mines his conflicted relationship with comics and comics culture, and people at large, he once again animates the absurdities of modern life and how we choose to live it.

Unmooring by Bridget Auchmuty        $25
"The work of a poet who knows how important people and places are. I kept thinking, too, about life’s voyagings. I found the whole very affecting — touching, tender, rueful at times. And all the more impressive for being unsentimental." —Brian Turner
After living more than 30 years in the Nelson region, Auchmuty recently moved to the Ida Valley following her partner's death. 
Kalimpong Kids: The New Zealand story, in pictures by Jane McCabe        $35
In the early 20th century, 130 young Anglo-Indians were sent to New Zealand in an organised immigration scheme from Kalimpong, in the Darjeeling district of India. They were the mixed-race children of British tea planters and local women, and were placed as workers with New Zealand families from the Far North to Southland. Their settlement in New Zealand was the initiative of a Scottish Presbyterian missionary, the Rev Dr John Anderson Graham, who aimed to 'rescue' and provide a home and an education for children whose opportunities would have been limited in the country of their birth. Jane McCabe is the granddaughter of Lorna Peters, who arrived with a group from Kalimpong in 1921. Jane is one of many hundreds of descendants now spread throughout New Zealand. Most grew up with little or no knowledge of their parent's Indian heritage. The story of interracial relationships, institutionalisation — and the sense of abandonment that often resulted — was rarely spoken of. But since the 1980s increasing numbers have been researching their hidden histories.
Granta 151: Membranes edited by Rana Dasgupta          $28
Poetry from Andrew McMillan and Tishani Doshi; photography from Ruchir Joshi, Arturo Soto Gutierrez, Monica de la Torre and Anita Khemka: fiction and essays: Fatin Abbas on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, Lydia Davis on faultlines in families, Mark Doty on homelessness in New York City, Anouchka Grose on infidelity and the idea of the unwanted third, Kapka Kassabova on lakes and Europe, Anita Roy on the newt, Eyal Weizman on contemporary architectural strategies for repelling and dividing people. 

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi           $37
The new novel ffrom the author of Homegoing. Gifty is the younger child in a family of four who have emigrated from Ghana to the American South. While her brother is a sports hero, her father longs to return home and her mother is desperate to hold this family of four together. When Gifty's brother's glorious success on the basketball court falters, addiction strikes and her mother turns to religion., whereas Gifty turns to science. Can family love survive when the family itself feels like it is on the edge of disappearing?
You and Me and Everybody Else by Marcos Farina         $40
Everybody feels the same, sometimes. Our wishes, dreams, thoughts, and feelings are personal to us but all experienced by others. Guided by a friendly page-hopping cat, this picture book tackles the topics of emotions and experiences in a sympathetic manner, encouraging empathy with others. 

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