Friday 30 July 2021


The Cheap-Eaters by Thomas Bernhard              $34
"We can get close to such a person, but if we come into contact with him we will be repelled." Long out of print, this novella from one of the best writers of the twentieth century is now available in a new translation by Douglas Robertson. The cheap-eaters have been eating at the Vienna Public Kitchen for years, and true to their name, always the cheapest meals. They become the focus of Koller's scientific attention when he deviates one day from his usual path through the park, leading him to come upon the cheap-eaters and to realize that they must be the focal piece of his years-long, unwritten study of physiognomy. The narrator, a former school friend of Koller's, tells of his relationship with Koller in a single unbroken paragraph that is both dizzying and absorbing. In Koller, the narrator observes a gradually ever-growing, utterly exclusive and ultimately destructive interest in thought. 
>>A sequence of crushings
>>The translator makes his case for the semi-colon (among other things). 
>>Read Thomas's reviews of others of Thomas Bernhard's works
Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder          $35
A sharp, intelligent, playfully transgressive novel-of-ideas that explores the way power, gender and tradition shape modern motherhood. Nightbitch's protagonist, an artist-turned-fulltime-parent, is home with her two-year-old son, struggling with solitude, exhaustion and monotony, even while she feels profound love for her child. Then, over the course of the summer, she experiences a strange metamorphosis (the clue is in the title) which complicates her situation in outrageous ways, whilst also setting her free.
"Graceful, funny and unnerving as hell." —Jenny Offill
Piripai by Leila Rees             $39
Piripai is natural history as prose poetry. It is a story of place, time and a subtle coming of age on the sand dunes between the river and the sea. The book is structured around twenty-six birds that inhabited Piripai, and ordered according to the time of year, beginning in spring and ending in winter. It is suffused with observation and memory, conveyed in a stripped-back style that both evokes and abstracts. Through the eyes of the book's three characters we learn about their family, their culture, their birds and the rough, beautiful land they call home.
My Phantoms by Gwendoline Riley             $33
Helen Grant is a mystery to her two daughters. Growing up, Bridget and her older sister Michelle were kept at a distance by their mother's caginess and flair for the dramatic. Meanwhile, their Saturdays were spent with their father, a serial liar whose boasts and bluster were exhausting. Now Bridget is an academic in her forties. She sees her mother once a year for a shared birthday dinner, they text occasionally about Mad Men and Ferrante to feign a shared interest, and they have settled into a strained peace. But when Helen makes it clear that she wants more, it seems Bridget's childhood struggle will have to be replayed. And as it becomes clear that her mother's life might end sooner than she thinks, Bridget struggles to know what forgiveness entails, and whether it's possible to find meaning in a vanishing past and a relationship that never was.
"Astute, bitter, funny. Unforgettable." —Guardian
Falling into Rarohenga by Steph Matuku            $30
It seems like an ordinary day when Tui and Kae, sixteen-year-old twins, get home from school - until they find their mother, Maia, has disappeared and a swirling vortex has opened up in her room. They are sucked into this portal and dragged down to Rarohenga, the Maori Underworld, a shadowy place of infinite dark levels, changing landscapes and untrustworthy characters. Maia has been kidnapped by their estranged father, Tema, enchanted to forget who she really is and hidden somewhere here. Tui and Kae have to find a way through this maze, outwit the shady characters they meet, break the spell on their mother, and escape to the World of Light before the Goddess of Shadows or Tema holds them in Rarohenga forever.
Esther's Notebooks: Tales from my ten-year-old life by Riad Sattouf           $33
Every week, the comic book artist Riad Sattouf has a chat with his friend's daughter, Esther. She tells him about her life, about school, her friends, her hopes, dreams and fears, and then he works it up into a comic strip. This book consists of 52 of those strips, telling between them the story of a year in the life of this sharp, spirited and hilarious Parisian child. The result is a moving, insightful and addictive glimpse into the lives of children today.
>>Watch Les Cahiers d'Esther

The Book of Jewish Food: From Samarkand to New York by Claudia Roden            $85
An exemplar of food writing, splicing recipes and stories into something somehow more valuable than both, Roden's book contains more than 800 recipes from both Sephardi and Ashkenazi traditions, from ancient times to the present, and from all parts of the world. 
Butcherbird by Cassie Hart          $25
Something is drawing Jena Benedict's family to darkness. Her mother, father, brother and baby sister are killed in a barn fire, and Grandmother Rose banishes Jena from the farm. Now, twenty years on Rose is dying, and Jena returns home with her boyfriend Cade in tow. Jena wants answers about why she was sent away and about what really happened the night of the fire. Will, Rose's live-in caregiver, has similar questions. He hunts for the supernatural, and he knows something sinister lurks in the Benedict homestead. Like Rose, Will has experienced childhood tragedy. Soon, Jena and Will unearth mysteries: a skull, a pocket-watch, a tale of the Dark Man and a tiding of magpies. The duo learn Rose's secrets and confront an evil entity that has been set loose.
The Broken House: Growing up under Hitler by Horst Krüger          $37
In 1966, Krüger looked back back at his own childhood and realised that he had been "the typical child of innocuous Germans who were never Nazis, and without whom the Nazis would never have been able to do their work."

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad           $38
More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another over-filled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too-many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives in their homelands. And only one had made the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who has the good fortune to fall into the hands not of the officials, but of Vanna: a teenage girl, native to the island, who lives inside her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though Vanna and Amir are complete strangers and don't speak a common language, Vanna determines to do whatever it takes to save him. In alternating chapters, we learn the story of Amir's life and of how he came to be on the boat; and we follow the duo as they make their way towards a vision of safety. But as the novel unfurls, we begin to understand that this is not merely the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world. 
My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long         $28
Long's poems reveal her as a razor-sharp and original voice on the issues of sexual politics and cultural inheritance that polarize our current moment.
The Flowering: The autobiography of Judy Chicago             $65
A revealing autobiography, illustrated with photographs of Chicago's work, as well as personal images and a foreword by Gloria Steinem. Chicago has revised and updated her earlier, classic works with previously untold stories, fresh insights, and an extensive afterword covering the last twenty years. This narrative weaves together the stories behind some of Chicago's most significant artworks and her journey as a woman artist with the chronicles of her personal relationships and her understanding, from decades of experience and extensive research, of how misogyny, racism and other prejudices intersect to erase the legacies of artists who are not white and male while dismissing the suffering of millions of creatures who share the planet. 
The Woman Who Borrowed Memories by Tove Jansson           $38
Many of the stories collected here are pure Jansson, touching on island solitude and the dangerous pull of the artistic impulse: in 'The Squirrel' the equanimity of the only inhabitant of a remote island is thrown by a visitor, in 'The Summer Child' an unlovable boy is marooned along with his lively host family, in 'The Cartoonist' an artist takes over a comic strip that has run for decades, and in 'The Doll's House' a man's hobby threatens to overwhelm his life. Others explore unexpected territory: 'Shopping' has a post-apocalyptic setting, 'The Locomotive' centers on a railway-obsessed loner with murderous fantasies, and 'The Woman Who Borrowed Memories' presents a case of disturbing transference. Unsentimental, yet always humane, Jansson's stories complement and enlarge our understanding of a singular figure in world literature.
Beginning with the first published cookbook by Hannah Woolley in 1661 to the early colonial days to the transformative popular works by Fannie Farmer, Irma Rombauer, Julia Child, Edna Lewis, Marcella Hazan, and up to Alice Waters working today. Willan offers a brief biography of each influential woman, highlighting her key contributions, seminal books, and representative dishes. The book features fifty original recipes—as well as updated versions Willan has tested and modernised for the contemporary kitchen.

Finding the Mother Tree: Uncovering the wisdom and intelligence of the forest by Suzanne Simard               $40
Raised in the forests of British Columbia, Simard was working in the forest service when she first discovered how trees communicate underground through an immense web of fungi, at the centre of which lie the Mother Trees— the mysterious, powerful entities that nurture their kin and sustain the forest. Though her ground-breaking findings were initially dismissed and even ridiculed, they are now supported by the data.

Helen Kelly: Her life by Rebecca Macfie           $50
Kelly was the first woman to lead the country’s trade union movement: a visionary who believed that all workers, whether in a union or not, deserved to be given a fair go; a fighter from a deeply communist family who never gave up the struggle; a strategist and orator who invoked strong loyalty; a woman who could stir fierce emotions. Her battles with famous people were the stuff of headlines. Macfie examines not only  Kelly’s life but also a defining period in the country’s history, when old values were replaced by the individualism of neo-liberalism, and the wellbeing and livelihood of workers faced unremitting stress.

La Vita è Dolce by Letitia Clark           $55
Featuring over 80 Italian desserts, this book showcases Letitia's favourite puddings inspired by her time living in Sardinia. Complete with anecdotes and location photography throughout, each recipe will be authentic in taste but with a delicious, contemporary twist. From the author of Bitter Honey
Worn Stories edited by Emily Spivak           $50
Everyone has a memoir in miniature in at least one piece of clothing. In Worn Stories, Emily Spivack has collected over sixty of these clothing-inspired narratives from cultural figures and talented storytellers. First-person accounts range from the everyday to the extraordinary, such as artist Marina Abramovic on the boots she wore to walk the Great Wall of China; musician Rosanne Cash on the purple shirt that belonged to her father; and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley on the Girl Scout sash that informed her business acumen. Other contributors include Greta Gerwig, Heidi Julavits, John Hodgman, Brandi Chastain, Marcus Samuelsson, Piper Kerman, Maira Kalman, Sasha Frere-Jones, Simon Doonan, Albert Maysles, Susan Orlean, Andy Spade, Paola Antonelli, David Carr, Andrew Kuo, and more.
The Fragile Earth: Writing from The New Yorker on climate change edited by David Remnick and Henry Finder           $40
In 1989, one year after climatologist James Hansen first came before a Senate committee and testified that the earth was now warmer than it had ever been in recorded history, thanks to humankind's heedless consumption of fossil fuels, New Yorker writer Bill McKibben published a deeply reported and considered piece on climate change and what it could mean for the planet. At the time, the piece was to some speculative to the point of alarmist; read now, McKibben's work is prescient. Since then, The New Yorker has described the causes of the crisis, the political and ecological conditions we now find ourselves in, and the scenarios and solutions we face.
Johnny Cash: The last interview and other conversations        $35
Together with an introduction by music critic Peter Guralnick, the interviews here spotlight Cash's inimitable rhetorical style, and the fascinating diversity of subjects that made him as relatable as he was mysterious.

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