Friday 26 March 2021


In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova           $45
After the death of her aunt, Maria Stepanova is left to sift through an apartment full of faded photographs, old postcards, letters, diaries, and heaps of souvenirs: a withered repository of a century of life in Russia. Carefully reassembled with calm, steady hands, these shards tell the story of how a seemingly ordinary Jewish family somehow managed to survive the myriad persecutions and repressions of the last century. In dialogue with writers like Roland Barthes, W. G. Sebald, Susan Sontag and Osip Mandelstam, In Memory of Memory is imbued with rare intellectual curiosity and a wonderfully soft-spoken, poetic voice. Dipping into various forms – essay, fiction, memoir, travelogue and historical documents – Stepanova assembles a vast panorama of ideas and personalities and offers an entirely new and bold exploration of cultural and personal memory.
"A luminous, rigorous, and mesmerizing interrogation of the relationship between personal history, family history, and capital-H History. I couldn’t put it down; it felt sort of like watching a hypnotic YouTube unboxing-video of the gift-and-burden that is the twentieth century. In Memory of Memory has that trick of feeling both completely original and already classic, and I confidently expect this translation to bring Maria Stepanova a rabid fan base on the order of the one she already enjoys in Russia." —Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
"Dazzling erudition and deep empathy come together in Maria Stepanova’s profound engagement with the power and potential of memory, the mother of all muses. An exploration of the vast field between reminiscence and remembrance, In Memory of Memory is a poetic appraisal of the ways the stories of others are the fabric of our history." —Esther Kinsky, author of Grove
"Extraordinary – a work of haunting power, grace and originality." —Philippe Sands, author of East West Street
The Homely II by Gavin Hipkins             $30
In 2001, Gavin Hipkins unveiled his photo frieze, 'The Homely', at City Gallery Wellington. Consisting of eighty photos taken between 1997 and 2000 on travels in New Zealand and Australia, neighbouring antipodean colonies, it became his best-known and most celebrated work. In 2018, he unveiled its sequel in the exhibition This is New Zealand, also at City Gallery. 'The Homely II' also comprises eighty photos, shot in the same manner, arranged in the same frieze format. Hipkins took the images between 2001 and 2017 on excursions through New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the former colony and the colonial homeland. Contributions by Megan Tamati-Quennell, Robert Leonard, Felicity Barnes, Andrew Clifford, Blair French, Terrence Handscomb, Emil McAvoy, Emma Ng, and Lara Strongman.
>>A few images
Poetics of Work by Noémi Lefebvre         $34
Sparring with the spectre of an overbearing father, torn between the push to find a job and the pull to write, the narrator wanders into a larger debate, one in which the troubling lights of Kafka, Kraus, and Klemperer shine bright. Set against the backdrop of police brutality and rising nationalism that marked the state of emergency following the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Poetics of Work takes a jab at the values of late capitalism. A blistering treatise of survival skills for the wilfully idle.
"A smart, timely, and novel proposal for poetics in the age of personal and political patriarchy." —Joanna Walsh
Havana Year Zero by Karla Suárez     $35
"It was as if we'd reached the minimum critical point of a mathematical curve. Imagine a parabola. Zero point down, at the bottom of an abyss. That's how low we sank." The year is 1993. Cuba is at the height of the Special Period, a widespread economic crisis following the collapse of the Soviet bloc. For Julia, a mathematics lecturer who hates teaching, this is Year Zero: the lowest possible point. But a way out appears: the search for a missing document that will prove the telephone was invented in Havana, secure her reputation, and give Cuba a purpose once more. What begins as an investigation into scientific history becomes a tangle of sex, friendship, family legacies, and the intricacies of how people find ways to survive in a country at its lowest ebb.
A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan         $37
A young woman gets ready to go to a party. She arrives, feels overwhelmed, leaves, and then returns. Minutely attuned to the people who come into her view, and alternating between alienation and profound connection, she is hilarious, self-aware, sometimes acerbic, and painfully honest. A book about love, loss, and the need to belong from a neurodivergent author, and with a protagonist on the autism spectrum.

The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington           $35
One of the first things ninety-two-year-old Marian Leatherby overhears when she is given an ornate hearing trumpet is her family plotting to commit her to an institution. Soon, she finds herself trapped in a sinister retirement home, where the elderly must inhabit buildings shaped like igloos and birthday cakes, endure twisted religious preaching and eat in a canteen overlooked by the mysterious portrait of a leering Abbess. But when another resident secretly hands Marian a book recounting the life of the Abbess, a joyous and brilliantly surreal adventure begins to unfold. Written in the early 1960s, The Hearing Trumpet remains one of the most original and inspirational of all fantastic novels. With an afterword by Olga Tokarczuk. 
>>The Surreal life. 
>>Surrealism, feminism, and old ladies in revolt
The Best American Poetry 2020 edited by Paisley Rekdal and David Lehman      $40
"One of the mainstays of the poetry publication world." —Academy of American Poets
What is Life? Understand biology in five steps by Paul Nurse         $30
"A nearly perfect guide to the wonder and complexity of existence." —Bill Bryson 
"Nurse provides a concise, lucid response to an age-old question. His writing is not just informed by long experience, but also wise, visionary, and personal. I read the book in one sitting, and felt exhilarated by the end, as though I'd run for miles—from the author's own garden into the interior of the cell, back in time to humankind's most distant ancestors, and through the laboratory of a dedicated scientist at work on what he most loves to do." —Dava Sobel
Artifact by Arlene Heyman                $33
By her early twenties, Lottie finds herself trapped in a marriage gone stale, with a daughter she adores but whose existence jeopardizes her place in the lab and her dream of becoming a scientist. How can a young woman make her way in a world determined to contain her brilliance, her will, and her longing to live? Artifact is a celebration of her refusal to be defined by others' imaginations, and a meditation on the glorious chaos of biological life.
Under a White Sky: The nature of the future by Elizabeth Kolbert            $37
The author of The Sixth Extinction returns to humanity's transformative impact on the environment, now asking, After doing so much damage, can we change nature, this time to save it? 

The Sourdough School: Sweet Baking by Vanessa Kimbell          $50
If it rises, it can be made with sourdough. A companion to The Sourdough School, this book focuses on sweet recipes that are gut-friendly and rely on natural sweetness where possible. 
"It is impossible to read this book without wanting to scuttle off into the kitchen." —Nigella Lawson
The Frozen River: Seeking silence in Ladakh by James Crowden          $28
In 1976 James Crowden travelled to Ladakh in the Northern Himalaya, one of the most remote parts of the world. The Frozen River is his extraordinary, luminous account of the time he spent there, living alongside the Zangskari people, before the arrival of roads and mass tourism. Now in paperback.
Signature by Hunter Dukes            $22
Why do we sign our names? How can a squiggle both enslave and liberate? Signatures often require a witness—as if the scrawl itself is not enough. What other kinds of beliefs and longings justify our signing practices? Signature addresses these questions as it roams from a roundtable on the Greek island of Syros, to a scene of handwriting analysis conducted in an English pub, from a wedding in Moscow, where guests sign the bride's body, to a San Franciscan tattoo parlor interested in arcane forms. The signature's history encompasses ancient handprints on cave walls, autograph hunters, the branding of slaves, metaphysical poetry, medical malpractice, hip-hop lyrics, legal challenges to electronic signatures, ice cores harvested from Greenland, and tales of forgery and autopens. 
The Language of Thieves: The story of Rotwelsch and one family's secret history by Martin Puchner            $40
Since the Middle Ages, vagrants and thieves in Central Europe have spoken Rotwelsch, a secret language influenced by Yiddish and written in rudimentary signs. When Martin Puchner inherited a family archive, it led him on a journey into this extraordinary language but also into his family's connections to the Nazi Party, for whom Rotwelsch held a particular significance.

The Escape Artist by Helen Fremont            $35
Fremont writes about growing up in a household held together by a powerful glue: secrets. Her parents, profoundly affected by their memories of the Holocaust, pass on to both Helen and her older sister a zealous determination to protect themselves from what they see as danger from the outside world. The family dynamic produced a startling devotion to secret keeping, beginning with the painful and unexpected discovery that she has been disinherited in her father's will. In scenes that are frank, moving, and often surprisingly funny, she writes about growing up in an intemperate household, with parents who pretended to be Catholics but were really Jews—and survivors of Nazi-occupied Poland. 
"Beautifully written, honest, and psychologically astute." —Mary Karr
Bloom by Nicola Skinner          $17
Sorrel Fallowfield is so good at being good that teachers come to her when they need help remembering the school rules - and there are lots. Luckily, Sorrel doesn't have any trouble following them, until the day she discovers a faded packet of Surprising Seeds buried under a tree in her backyard. Now she's hearing voices, seeing things, experiencing an almost unstoppable urge to plant the Seeds in some very unusual places... and completely failing to win her school's competition to find The Most Obedient Child of the School. And all that's before flowers start growing out of her head...
In 1994, a team led by Tim White uncovered the bones of a human ancestor in Ethiopia's Afar region. Radiometric dating of nearby rocks indicated the skeleton, classified as Ardipithecus ramidus, was 4.4 million years old, more than a million years older than "Lucy," then the oldest known human ancestor. The findings challenged many assumptions about human evolution—how we started walking upright, how we evolved our nimble hands, and, most significantly, whether we were descended from an ancestor that resembled today's chimpanzee—and challenged a half-century of paleoanthropological orthodoxy.

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