Saturday 5 December 2020


Magnolia 木蘭 by Nina Mingya Powles          $30
Shanghai, Aotearoa, Malaysia, London—all are places poet Nina Powles calls home and not-home; from each she can be homesick for another.  The poems dwell within the tender, shifting borderland between languages, and between poetic forms, to examine the shape and texture of memories, of myths, and of a mixed-heritage girlhood. Abundant with multiplicities, these poems find profound, distinctive joy in sensory nourishment – in the sharing of food, in the recounting of memoirs, or vividly within nature. This is a poetry deeply attuned to the possibilities within layers of written, spoken and inherited words. 
"This is a book of the body and the senses, whether the million tiny nerve endings of young love; the hunger that turns ‘your bones soft in the heat’; the painterly, edible, physical colour of flowers and the fabric lantern in the pattern of Maggie Cheung’s blue cheongsam; or ‘the soft scratchings of dusk’. These are poems of ‘warm blue longing’ and understated beauty, poems to linger over, taste, and taste again. As Powles searches for home she leaves an ‘imprint of rain’ in your dreams'." —Alison Wong
Xstabeth by David Keenan            $38
A young Russian woman is torn between her care for her father, a musician seemingly without a future, and her father's larger-than-life friend. When fortune suddenly smiles upon them in the form of a transformed failure, Aneliya and her father move from Russia to St Andrews in Scotland. Xstabeth tackles the metaphysics of golf, the mindset of classic Russian novels, and the power of art and music to re-wire reality.
"Reading Xstabeth feels like being cut open to the accompanying sound of ecstatic music." —Edna O'Brien 
"More of that inimitable Keenan narrative voodoo brilliance." —Wendy Erskine
>>"I was never that guy."

Three by Ann Quin          $33
S has disappeared from Ruth and Leonard's home in Brighton. Suicide is suspected. The couple, who had been spying on their young lodger since before the trouble, begin to pour over her diary, her audio recordings and her movies - only to discover that she had been spying on them with even greater intensity. As this disturbing, highly charged act of reciprocal voyeurism comes to light, and as the couple's fascination with S comes to dominate their already flawed marriage, what emerges is an unnerving and absorbing portrait of the taboos, emotional and sexual, that broke behind the closed doors of 1950s British life. Quin's Three, first published in 1966, established her at the forefront of the British avant garde, her text, like life itself, seemingly suspended between disintegration and recoagulation. 
>>The brilliance of Ann Quin
>>"Every cripple has his own way of walking."
>>Deborah Levy on Ann Quin
The Grief Almanac by Vana Manasiadis          $30
This bold hybrid of poetry, memoir, letter, essay and ekphrasis shows what alchemy can happen when pushing at the boundaries of what poetry is. Using strikingly unique forms and melding Greek with English, prose with poetry, and the past and present with fantasy and myth, The Grief Almanac defies conventions as it steers us over multiple terrains. The grief of the title is the grief of memory, inevitability, and in particular the grief of, and for, a lost mother, but the result goes beyond eulogy. Wry revisions, elegy, and a kind of poetic archiving, point to co-existence and interconnectedness and culminate instead in a guidebook, a legend and expansive lament. 
 "The Grief Almanac is rich, brilliant, with a kind of texturing that feels to me like complex symphonic music. This is not a collection of poems in any conventional sense. It is a sustained work of immense, far reaching intellect. With the two languages at her disposal and the full force of a great mind and heart, Manasiadis lifts her mother up into the light. We see the mother and we see the daughter and the primal truth that lies at the heart of those tragedies and myths that have endured for centuries because they are profoundly true." — Fiona Farrell
>>Sample pages
London by Patrick Keiller             $55
Neither documentary nor fiction, the film essay London by architect-turned-filmmaker Patrick Keiller is a unique kind of travelogue. The film chronicles a year in the life of England's capital through the eyes of the enigmatic Robinson, whose literary reflections and historical speculations are voiced by an unnamed, unseen narrator. This book includes over two hundred images accompanied by the film's complete narration, and an afterword by Keiller offering insights into his creative process, his films, and approaches to psychogeography. 

The Unremembered Places: Exploring Scotland's wild places by Patrick Baker         $40
There are strange relics hidden across Scotland's landscape: forgotten places that are touchstones to incredible stories and past lives which still resonate today. Yet why are so many of these 'wild histories' unnoticed and overlooked? And what can they tell us about our own modern identity? From the high mountain passes of an ancient droving route to a desolate moorland graveyard, from uninhabited postindustrial islands and Clearance villages to caves explored by early climbers and the mysterious strongholds of Christian missionaries, Patrick Baker makes a series of journeys on foot and by paddle. Along the way, he encounters Neolithic settlements, bizarre World War Two structures, evidence of illicit whisky production, sacred wells and Viking burial grounds.
Think Least of Death: Spinoza on how to live and how to die by Stephen Nadler           $35
In 1656, after being excommunicated from Amsterdam's Portuguese-Jewish community for "abominable heresies" and "monstrous deeds", the young Baruch Spinoza abandoned his family's import business to dedicate his life to philosophy. He quickly became notorious across Europe for his views on God, the Bible, and miracles, as well as for his uncompromising defense of free thought. Yet the radicalism of Spinoza's views has long obscured that his primary reason for turning to philosophy was to answer one of humanity's most urgent questions: How can we lead a good life and enjoy happiness in a world without a providential God? 

A Short History of the World According to Sheep by Sally Coulthard        $38
An addictively free-ranging survey of the massive impact that the domesticated ungulates of the genus Ovis have had on human history. From the plains of ancient Mesopotamia to the rolling hills of medieval England to the vast sheep farms of modern-day Australia, sheep have been central to the human story. Starting with our Neolithic ancestors' first forays into sheep-rearing nearly 10,000 years ago, these remarkable animals have fed us, clothed us, changed our diet and languages, helped us to win wars, decorated our homes, and financed the conquest of large swathes of the earth. Enormous fortunes and new, society-changing industries have been made from the fleeces of sheep, and cities shaped by shepherds' markets and meat trading. 
"This book deserves a place in your bookcase next to Harari's Sapiens. It's every bit as fascinating and is surely destined to be just as successful." —Julian Norton
Jack by Marilynne Robinson           $38
In the final novel of her outstanding Gilead quartet, Jack tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the beloved and grieved-over prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa, a drunkard and a ne'er-do-well. In segregated St. Louis sometime after World War II, Jack falls in love with Della Miles, an African-American high school teacher, also a preacher's child, with a discriminating mind, a generous spirit, and an independent will.
Luster by Raven Leilani          $38
"Luster smashes together capitalism, sex, loss, and trauma and constructs something new with the pieces, using pitch-black humor as glue. Edie is a unique character, a young Black woman full of dissatisfaction who constantly engages in self-destructive behavior. She is flawed and bright, funny and broken, depressed and horny. Edie is unforgettable, and so is Luster, a novel that shines with a distinctive darkness. Yes, the world is burning and maybe you feel like a depressing novel is the last thing you need, but there is pleasure at the core of every cringe Leilani will force on you." —NPR
"A taut, sharp, funny book about being young now. It's brutal—and brilliant." —Zadie Smith
The Lamplighter by Jackie Kay            $25
Presented originally both as a radio play and a stage play, Jackie Kay's multi-layered poetic drama tells  the stories of its five characters' journey through slavery, from the the fort, to the slave ship, through the middle passage, following life on the plantations, charting the growth of the British city and the industrial revolution. Kay, Scotland's Makar, intimates the devastating impact of slavery on the lives of individuals and illuminates and rehumanises dark corners of history. 
>>Missing faces

Eric Hobsbawn: A life in history by Richard J. Evans       $30
At the time of his death at the age of 95, Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012) was the most famous historian in the world. His books were translated into more than fifty languages and he was as well known in Brazil and Italy as he was in Britain and the United States. His writings have had a lasting effect on the practice of history. Hobsbawm's interests covered many countries and many cultures, ranging from poetry to jazz, literature to politics. He experienced life not only as a university teacher but also as a young Communist in the Weimar Republic, a radical student at Cambridge, a political activist, an army conscript, a Soho 'man about town', a Hampstead intellectual, a Cambridge don, an influential journalist, a world traveller, and finally a Grand Old Man of Letters.

Cold Warriors: Writers who waged the literary cold war by Duncan White         $30
During the Cold War, literature was both sword and noose. Novels, essays, and poems could win the hearts and minds of those caught between the competing creeds of capitalism and communism. They could also lead to blacklisting, exile, imprisonment, or execution for their authors if they offended those in power. The clandestine intelligence services of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union recruited secret agents and established vast propaganda networks devoted to literary warfare. But the battles were personal, too: friends turned on one another, lovers were split by political fissures, artists were undermined by inadvertent complicities. And while literary battles were fought in print, sometimes the pen was exchanged for a gun, the bookshop for the battlefield. White chronicles how this intellectual struggle was waged on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Among those involved were George Orwell, Stephen Spender, Mary McCarthy, Graham Greene, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, John le Carr , Anna Akhmatova, Richard Wright, Ernest Hemingway, Boris Pasternak, Gioconda Belli, and Vaclav Havel.
The Iconic Interior: 1900 to the present by Dominic Bradbury and Richard Powers     $55
A varied and stimulating selection of one hundred exemplary interiors, showing the changing nature of the relationship between humans and their built spaces through the twentieth century. 

In Defence of Open Society by George Soros             $28
In recent years, philanthropist George Soros has become the focus of sustained right-wing attacks in the United States and around the world based on his commitment to open society, progressive politics and his Jewish background. In this book Soros offers a compendium of his philosophy, and a call-to-arms for the ideals of an open society: freedom, democracy, rule of law, human rights, social justice, and social responsibility as a universal idea. 
Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis            $29
When her sister seizes the throne, Queen Eleanor of Albion is banished to a tiny island off the coast of her kingdom, where the nuns of the convent spend their days peacefully praying, sewing, and gardening. But the island is also home to Margaret, a mysterious young orphan girl whose life is upturned when the cold, regal stranger arrives. As Margaret grows closer to Eleanor, she grapples with the revelation of the island's sinister true purpose as well as the truth of her own past. An exquisite graphic novel. 

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