Friday 18 December 2020


Feline Philosophy: Cats and the meaning of life by John Gray           $45
The history of philosophy has been a predictably tragic or comical succession of palliatives for human disquiet. Thinkers from Spinoza to Berdyaev have pursued the perennial questions of how to be happy, how to be good, how to be loved, and how to live in a world of change and loss. But perhaps we can learn more from cats—the animal that has most captured our imagination—than from the great thinkers of the world.
>>Is philosophy a result of anxiety? 

Unquiet by Linn Ullmann          $37
He is a renowned Swedish filmmaker and has a plan for everything. She is his daughter, by the actress he directed and once loved. Each summer of her childhood, the daughter visits the father at his remote Faro island home on the edge of the Baltic Sea. Now that she's grown up—a writer, with children of her own—and he's in his eighties, they envision writing a book together, about old age, language, memory and loss. She will ask the questions. He will answer them. But it's winter now and old age has caught up with him in ways neither could have foreseen. And when the father is gone, only memories, images and words—both remembered and recorded—remain. Drawing on her own relationship with her father, Ingmar Bergman, this is a remarkably insightful piece of autofiction. 
"Linn Ullmann has written something of beauty and solace and truth. I don't know how she managed to sail across such dangerous waters." —Rachel Cusk
An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky           $45
Ever aware of the uneasy relationship between history and memory, Schalansky writes subtly of things, places, people and ideas that have a historical presence that no longer exists beyond memory. How should we think of extinction and loss? 
"The most wondrous book of the year: by taking what has vanished and turning it into a great piece of literature, the author has performed a magical act." —Die Zeit
"Schalansky treats each of the 12 objects cataloged in her new book with an almost religious awe, like a believer giving herself up to be inhabited by spirits." —LARB
Divorcing by Susan Taubes          $37
Dream and reality overlap in a book in which divorce is not just a question of a broken marriage but names a rift that runs right through the inner and outer worlds of Sophie Blind, its brilliant but desperate protagonist. Can the rift be mended? Perhaps in the form of a novel, one that goes back from present-day New York to Sophie's childhood in pre-World War II Budapest, that revisits the divorce between her Freudian father and her fickle mother, and finds a place for a host of further tensions and contradictions in her present life. The question that haunts Divorcing, however, is whether any novel can be fleet and bitter and true and light enough to gather up all the darkness of a given life. 
22 Minutes of Unconditional Love by Daphne Merkin        $45
Swept off her feet by Howard, everything Judith does is now about him: He calls her at work, instructs her on what to wear to dinner, and takes control of her body and sexuality with complete ownership. Judith becomes dependent on the push-pull of their sexual entanglement and on Howard's attention and approval, convinced she's found the man of her dreams. Until, that is, she understands he's the man of her nightmares: hostile, reckless, and manipulative, he seems intent on obliterating any sense of self and autonomy that Judith possesses. Escaping Howard's grasp—and her own perverse enjoyment of being under his control—becomes her mission. Merkin's new novel is deeply and often painfully insightful. 
>>See also the excellent Enchantment
Tātai Whetū: Seven Māori momen poets in translation edited by Maraea Rakuraku and Vana Manasiadis       $20
A ground-breaking bilingual poetry collection, which features a poem each by seven Māori women writers, originally written in English, and a translation in Māori. The two version of the poems are presented on facing pages. Featuring Anahera Gildea, Michelle Ngamoki, Tru Paraha, Kiri Piahana-Wong, Maraea Rakuraku, Dayle Takitimu and Alice Te Punga Somerville. The poems have been translated by Hēmi Kelly, Te Ataahia Hurihanganui, Herewini Easton, Jamie Cowell, Vaughan Rapatahana and Dayle Takitimu.
In 1807, Parliament outlawed the slave trade in the British Empire, but for the next quarter of a century, despite heroic and bloody rebellions, more than 700,000 people in the British colonies remained enslaved. And when a renewed abolitionist campaign was mounted, making slave ownership the defining political and moral issue of the day, emancipation was fiercely resisted by the powerful 'West India Interest'. Supported by nearly every leading figure of the British establishment—including Canning, Peel and Gladstone, The Times and Spectator—the Interest ensured that slavery survived until 1833 and that when abolition came at last, compensation was given not to the enslaved but to the slaveholders, entrenching the power of their families to shape modern Britain to this day. An important revision. 
Māori Philosophy: Indigenous thinking from Aotearoa by Georgina Tuari Stewart          $30
Addresses core philosophical issues including Maori notions of the self, the world, epistemology, the form in which Maori philosophy is conveyed, and whether or not Maori philosophy has a teleological agenda.

The Force of Non-Violence by Judith Butler           $33
Judith Butler's new book shows how an ethic of nonviolence must be connected to a broader political struggle for social equality. Further, it argues that nonviolence is often misunderstood as a passive practice that emanates from a calm region of the soul, or as an individualist ethical relation to existing forms of power. But, in fact, nonviolence is an ethical position found in the midst of the political field. An aggressive form of nonviolence accepts that hostility is part of our psychic constitution, but values ambivalence as a way of checking the conversion of aggression into violence. Butler draws upon Foucault, Fanon, Freud and Benjamin to consider how the interdiction against violence fails to include lives regarded as ungrievable, and tracks how violence is often attributed to those who are most severely exposed to its lethal effects.
Venice: The lion, the city and the water by Cees Nooteboom        $50
With his many decades of intimacy both with the city and its place in history, art, literature and thought, Nooteboom manages to evoke new dimensions of understanding of this unique city. 
"Nooteboom has achieved the impossible: to say something new about the ageless city about which everything has been said." —Alberto Manguel
Semicolon: How a misunderstood punctuation mark can improve your writing, enrich your reading, and even change your life by Cecelia Watson            $20
Hated by Stephen King, Hemingway, Vonnegut and Orwell, and loved by Herman Melville, Henry James and Rebecca Solnit, the semicolon is the most divisive punctuation mark in the English language, and many are too scared to go near it. But why? When is it effective? Have we been misusing it? Should we even care?

American Utopia by David Byrne and Maira Kalman           $53
A joyful collaboration between old friends David Byrne and Maira Kalman, American Utopia offers readers an antidote to cynicism, bursting with pathos, humanism, and hope, featuring Byrne's words and lyrics brought to life with more than 150 of Kalman's colorful paintings. David Byrne's American Utopia was a hit Broadway show before becoming a documentary from Spike Lee. The four-color artwork, by Maira Kalman, which she created for the Broadway show's curtain, is composed of small moments, expressions, gestures, and interactions that together offer a portrait of daily life and coexistence.
William Softkey and the Purple Spider by C.F. (Christopher Fourges)         $40
Buried deep under sand sits a library the size of a small city, owned by the eerily powerful Mr. Wish and protected by roving bands of toughs and lethal sentient vehicles. When a small but heavy interdimensional spider demands access to the vault, poor William Softkey, with assistance from the gravity-experimenter Gigglewindow sisters, is hired to deal with the problem. Rendered in the artist's trademark stark linework—against a backdrop of paranoid techno-fantasy, strange emblematic beings, and woozy halftone patterns—William Softkey and the Purple Spider is a dreamy comic narrative with strange appeal. 

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