Friday 28 May 2021


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Dead Souls by Sam Riviere              $38
A glorious and hilarious rant against the pretensions of the 'poetry scene', so to call it, and against pretty much everything else that falls under the author's notice, Dead Souls is also a metaphysical mystery and an exploration of the dual pitfalls of plagiarism and invention — a novel with a similar palette of barbs and pleasures to those of Thomas Bernhard
>>Read an extract
The Hard Crowd: Essays, 2000—2020 by Rachel Kushner            $37
In nineteen razor-sharp essays Kushner explores friendship, loss, social justice, art and more, taking us into the world of truckers, a Palestinian refugee camp, the American prison system and the San Francisco music scene, via the work of Jeff Koons, Marguerite Duras and the Rolling Stones. The book also details how, in her twenties, Kushner went to Mexico in pursuit of her first love — motorbikes — to compete in the notorious and deadly race, Cabo 1000, and how, following a crash at 200km/h, she decided to leave her controlling boyfriend and manoeuvred her way into a freer new life.
A Clear Dawn: New Asian voices from Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Paula Morris and Alison Wong               $50
This collection of poetry, fiction and essays by emerging writers is the first-ever anthology of Asian New Zealand creative writing. A Clear Dawn presents a new wave of creative talent. With roots stretching from Indonesia to Japan, from China to the Philippines to the Indian subcontinent, the authors in this anthology range from high school students to retirees, from recent immigrants to writers whose families have lived in New Zealand for generations. Some of the writers – including Gregory Kan, Sharon Lam, Rose Lu and Chris Tse – have published books; some, like Mustaq Missouri, Aiwa Pooamorn and Gemishka Chetty, are better known for their work in theatre and performance. The introduction outlines New Zealand's long yet under-recognised history of immigration from Asia. 
"Breathtaking in its parts and as a whole. Even if you know a part of Asia well, even if you feel in touch with present-day Aotearoa, this anthology will surprise you again and again, as, voice by unique voice, truth by particular truth, its artists build a mosaic you have never seen before." —Rajorshi Chakraborti
A Door Behind a Door by Yelena Moskovich          $36
Olga immigrates as part of the Soviet diaspora of '91 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. There she grows up and meets a girl and falls in love, beginning to believe that she can settle down. But a phone call from a bad man from her past brings to life a haunted childhood in an apartment building in the Soviet Union: an unexplained murder in her block, a supernatural stray dog, and the mystery of her beloved brother Moshe, who lost an eye and later vanished. We get pulled into Olga's past as she puzzles her way through an underground Midwestern Russian mafia, in pursuit of a string of mathematical stabbings.
"Yelena Moskovich’s A Door Behind A Door reminded me, as I was speeding through it, for there was no other way to read a work of such momentum and force, that novels are made of sentences, and who else writes sentences like this, does anyone else, I thought, as if in a fever dream, opening up each portal and falling through it, write sentences like this juxtaposing despair and lust, tragedy and farce." —Kate Zambreno
Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan             $40
The devil's daughter rows to the shores of Leith in a coffin. The year is 1910 and she has been sent to a tenement building in Edinburgh by her recently deceased father to bear a child for a wealthy man and his fiancée. The harrowing events that follow lead to a curse on the building and its residents - a curse that will last for the rest of the century. Over nine decades, No. 10 Luckenbooth Close bears witness to emblems of a changing world outside its walls. An infamous madam, a spy, a famous Beat poet, a coal miner who fears daylight, a psychic: these are some of the residents whose lives are plagued by the building's troubled history in disparate, sometimes chilling ways. The curse creeps up the nine floors and an enraged spirit world swells to the surface, desperate for the true horror of the building's longest kept secret to be heard.
"One of the most stunning literary experiences I've had in years. Luckenbooth, sprawling the decades with its themes of repression and revenge, brings back something that has long been lacking in the British novel: ambition. If Alasdair Gray's Lanark was a masterly imagining of Glasgow, then this is the quintessential novel of Edinburgh at its darkest." —Irvine Welsh
"A deeply powerful, compellingly vivid novel. Luckenbooth is a major work of Scottish fiction — possibly one of the most significant novels of the last ten years. —Alan Warner
"Brilliantly strange, this haunted panorama is a dazzling outsider history." —M. John Harrison, Guardian
"Radical, daring, and beautifully written." —The Scotsman
Fragments of an Infinite Memory: My life with the internet by Maël Renouard           $37
A fascinating series of conjectures on how human experience, especially the sense of self, is being changed by our continual engagement with a memory that is impersonal and effectively boundless: the internet.
>>In search of lost time (with a little help from Google). 
The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on lost time by Hugh Raffles             $55
An exploration of loss, endurance, and the absences that permeate the present. When Hugh Raffles’s two sisters died suddenly within a few weeks of each other, he reached for rocks, stones, and other seemingly solid objects as anchors in a world unmoored, ways to make sense of these events through stories far larger than his own. The Book of Unconformities is grounded in stories of stones: Neolithic stone circles, Icelandic lava, mica from a Nazi concentration camp, petrified whale blubber in Svalbard, the marble prized by Manhattan’s Lenape, and a huge Greenlandic meteorite that arrived with six Inuit adventurers in the exuberant but fractious New York City of 1897. As Raffles follows these fundamental objects, unearthing the events they’ve engendered, he finds them losing their solidity, as capricious indifferent and willful as time itself.
“In a high-voltage jolt of insight, Mr. Raffles converts what might seem a dry scientific concept into a potent literary metaphor to help anyone whose sense of time has been fractured by loss. The Book of Unconformities is so rich in erudition and prose-poetry that I read it like a glutton, tearing off big bites of lost time until I was sated.” —The Wall Street Journal
“What intuition the book requires, what detective work—and what magic tricks it performs. Raffles is serenely indifferent to the imperatives and ordinary satisfactions of conventional storytelling. Character, coherence, a legible and meaningful structure—these are not his concerns. There are no attempts to suture together the various stories, no attempts to enact something 'learned' by the author. The photographs accompanying the text are dim  and blotchy, and Raffles favors slabs of prose unbroken by punctuation. I intend all this as praise.” —The New York Times 
“A spellbinding time travelogue. Raffles’s dense, associative, essayistic style mirrors geological transformation, compressing and folding chronologies like strata in  metamorphic rock.” —Harper’s Magazine
Choke Box by Christina Milletti             $38
When Edward Tamlin disappears while writing his memoir, Jane Tamlin (his wife and the mother of his young children) begins to write a secret, corrective "counter-memoir" of her own. Calling the book Choke Box, she reveals intimate, often irreverent, details about her family and marriage, rejecting-and occasionally celebrating-her suspected role in her husband's disappearance. Choke Box isn't Jane's first book. From her room in the Buffalo Psychiatric Institute, she slowly reveals a hidden history of the ghost authorship that has sabotaged her family and driven her to madness. Her latest work, finally written under her own name, is designed to reclaim her dark and troubled story. Yet even as Jane portrays her life as a wife, mother, and slighted artist with sardonic candor, her every word is underscored by one belief above all others: the complete truth is always a secret. The stories we tell may help us survive—if they don't kill us first.
Snow Approaching on the Hudson by August Kleinzahler           $28
August Kleinzahler has earned admiration for his musical, precise, wise, and sometimes madcap poems that are grounded in the wide array of places, people, and most especially voices he has encountered in his real and imaginative worlds. Snow Approaching on the Hudson is a collection that moves through the often hypnogogic, porous realms of dreams, the past and present, inner and outer landscapes. His haunting, shifting atmospheres are peopled by characters, intimately portrayed, that are at one historical and invented. The poet's signature rhythmic propulsion serves as the engine for his newest collection, his first in eight years.
Niva and Yotam Kay of Pakaraka Permaculture on the Coromandel Peninsula share their long experience of organic gardening in this comprehensive book on how to create and maintain a productive and regenerative vegetable garden. Taking care of the soil life and fertility provides plants with what they need to thrive. The book reflects in the latest scientific research on soil health, ecological and regenerative practices. 

I Saw the Dog: How language works by Alexandra Aikhenvald            $33
 Every language in the world shares a few common features: we can ask a question, say something belongs to us, and tell someone what to do. But beyond that, our languages are richly and almost infinitely varied: a French speaker can't conceive of a world that isn't split into un and une, male and female, while Estonians have only one word for both men and women: tema. In Dyirbal, an Australian language, things might be masculine, feminine, neuter — or edible vegetable.

We All Play by Julie Flett          $30
A beautifully illustrated picture books gently encouraging an appreciation of nature, animals, seasons, and intergenerational friendship. Includes a glossary of Cree words for the various animals that appear in the book. 
Landfall 241 edited by Emma Neale            $30
Results from the 2021 Charles Brasch Young Writers' Essay Competition as well as new writing from established and new voices — work ranging from the wry, ludic and lyrical, to gripping body horror as social commentary — reviews of New Zealand books, and art by Claire Beynon, Ewan McDougall, and Bridget Reweti.

Bookstores: A celebration of independent booksellers by Horst A. Friedrichs and Stuart Husband          $100
Pay a photographic visit to a variety of new, second-hand and antiquarian bookshops, mostly in the US, the UK and Europe, in this sumptuous book. 
On the Suffering of the World by Arthur Schopenhauer, edited by Eugene Thacker         $30
Schopenhauer's later writings mark a shift towards a philosophy of aphorisms, fragments, anecdotes and observations, written in a literary style that is by turns antagonistic, resigned, confessional, and filled with all the fragile contours of an intellectual memoir. Here Schopenhauer allows himself to pose challenging questions regarding the fate of the human species, the role of suffering in the world, and the rift between self and world that increasingly has come to define human existence, to this day. It is these writings of Schopenhauer that later generations of artists, poets, musicians, and philosophers would identify as exemplifying the pessimism of their era, and perhaps of our own as well. On the Suffering of the World is presented with an introduction that places Schopenhauer's thought in its intellectual context, while also connecting it to contemporary concerns over climate change, the anthropocene, and the spectre of human extinction.
>>A few cheerful words by Thomas. 
The Lost Soul by Olga Tokarczuk, illustrated by Joanna Concejo          $38
The first picture book from the Nobel Prize-winning writer is a quiet meditation on happiness following the life of a busy man who loses his soul, beautifully illustrated by Concejo. 

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