Thursday 19 August 2021


He Ringatoi o ngā Tūpuna: Isaac Coates and his Māori portraits by Hilary and John Mitchell             $80
Isaac Coates was an Englishman who lived in Wellington and Nelson between 1841 and 1845. During that time he painted watercolour portraits of 58 Māori from Nelson, Marlborough, Wellington, Waikanae and Kapiti. Some of these portraits have been well-known for nearly 180 years, although their creator was not definitively identified until 2000. The discovery in 2007 of a Coates book of portraits in the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University added many previously unknown images to his body of work. The portraits depict Māori men and women from chiefly whakapapa, as well as commoners and at least one slave. Coates's meticulous records of each subject's name, iwi and place of residence are invaluable, and his paintings are strong images of individuals, unlike the more stereotyped work of some of Coates's contemporaries. Whānau, hāpu and iwi treasure Coates's works because they are the only images of some tūpuna, and they are reminders of those who risked their lives to bring their people to a better life in the Cook Strait regions of Kapiti coast, Wellington, Nelson and Marlborough. In He Ringatoi o ngā Tūpuna Te Tau Ihu historians John and Hilary Mitchell unravel the previously unknown story of Isaac Coates, as well as providing biographical details and whakapapa of his subjects, where they can be reliably identified. Meticulously researched and beautifully presented.
I Couldn't Love You More by Esther Freud           $33
"Freud’s ninth novel is about mothers, daughters and secrets, telling the story of three generations of women: the men they love and the choices they make. There’s Aoife, in contemporary Cork, who relates to her dying husband Cashel the story of their long marriage; pregnant Rosaleen in 60s London, in love with bohemian sculptor Felix; Kate, an artist 30 years later, with a difficult partner, a small daughter and a desperate desire to know where she has come from. 'How do we even know we’re not dead?' little Freya asks Kate. This book is how. We know we’re alive because of the stories we tell each other, and the things we make, and the people we love, and that’s all we ever get. Freud knows that, and it is good in this bleak year to be reminded." —Guardian
>>"I didn't learn to read until I was about ten."
The Inheritance by Armin Greder               $33
A powerful picture book calling out the greed of those contributing most to the destruction of nature. "All this will soon be yours, respect what I have built and make it prosper." These are the last words of the old industrialist before dying. While the three brothers discuss how to fulfil their father's wishes, the sister lists for them the disastrous consequences that would follow: disease; marine pollution; deforestation; the destruction of the landscape; pollution of skies and rivers.
>>Some other picture books by Greder

Seek You: A journey through American loneliness by Kristen Radtke           $50
Shameful to talk about and often misunderstood, loneliness is everywhere, from the most major of cities to the smallest of towns. In this remarkable graphic memoir, a wide-ranging exploration of our inner lives and public selves, Radtke digs into the ways in which we attempt to feel closer to one another, and the distance that remains. Through the lenses of gender and violence, technology and art, Radtke ushers us through a history of loneliness and longing, and shares what feels impossible to share. Ranging from the invention of the laugh-track to the rise of Instagram, the bootstrap-pulling cowboy to the brutal experiments of Harry Harlow, Radtke investigates why we engage with each other, and what we risk when we turn away. 
>>Read an extract
The Child by Kjersti A. Skomsvold          $28
A young mother speaks to her newborn child. Since the drama of childbirth, all feels calm. The world is new and full of surprises, even though dangers lurk behind every corner; a car out of control, disease ever-present in the air, the unforgiving speed of time. She tells of the times before the child was born, when the world felt unsure and enveloped in darkness, of long nights with an older lover, of her writing career and the precariousness of beginning a relationship and then a family with her husband, Bo. A portrait of modern motherhood, The Child is a story about what it means to be alive and stay alive, no matter how hard the journey.
Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate histories of riotous Black girls, troublesome women, and queer radicals by Saidiya Hartman               $28
At the dawn of the twentieth century, black women in the US were carving out new ways of living. The first generations born after emancipation, their struggle was to live as if they really were free. These women refused to labour like slaves. Wrestling with the question of freedom, they invented forms of love and solidarity outside convention and law. These were the pioneers of free love, common-law and transient marriages, queer identities, and single motherhood - all deemed scandalous, even pathological, at the dawn of the twentieth century, though they set the pattern for the world to come. 

Things Are Against Us by Lucy Ellmann          $26
Bold, angry, despairing and very funny, these essays cover everything from matriarchy to environmental catastrophe to Little House on the Prairie to Agatha Christie. Ellmann calls for a moratorium on air travel, rails against bras, and pleads for sanity in a world that hardly recognises sanity when it (occasionally) appears.
"Joyously electric." —Guardian
>>Read Thomas's review of Ducks, Newburyport
Outrageous Horizon by Adrien Bosc           $33
March 1941. A converted cargo ship, the Paul-Lemerle, left Marseille on a voyage to the Caribbean, fleeing Vichy France and the devastation of the war. The ship was filled with immigrants from the East, exiled Spanish Republicans, Jews, stateless persons and decadent artists. Among them were Claude Levi-Strauss, the painter Wifredo Lam, the writers Anna Seghers and Andre Breton, and the Russian revolutionary Victor Serge. Mixing the documentary techniques of history, the imaginative leaps of fiction and the cool analysis of the essay, Bosc takes us from Marseille to Casablanca to Martinique and on to New York, to tell an evocative story of migration, cultural crisis and the intellectual cost of the rise of fascism.
"Outrageous Horizon is an erudite, brilliantly imagined odyssey into exile that weaves historic narrative, psychological writing, and cultural history. With his immersive portrait of a distinguished cast of mid-20th century refugees, Adrien Bosc guides us into the choppy seas of our own present moment where catastrophe, once again, meets opportunity." —Kapka Kassabova
The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig              $33
A heart-rending tale of a family in turmoil after the death of a child is kept secret from one of his siblings. When their eldest son drowns overseas, Gill and Gabe, desperate to protect their unwell teenaged daughter from the news, decide they must hide the truth from her at all costs - a decision that has ripple effects throughout their family. Told through alternating perspectives, with frequent flashbacks to the past, the story unfurls, revealing the key moments that have shaped each character into the people they are today. 
Neither Vertical Not Horizontal: A theory of political organisation by Rodrigo Nunez             $43
A decade ago, a wave of mass mobilisations described as "horizontal" and "leaderless" swept the planet, holding the promise of real democracy and justice for the 99%. Many saw its subsequent ebb as proof of the need to go back to what was once called "the question of organisation". For something so often described as essential, however, political organisation remains a surprisingly under-theorised field. In this book, Rodrigo Nunes proposes to remedy that lack by starting again from scratch. Redefining the terms of the problem, he rejects the confusion between organisation and any of the forms it can take, such as the party, and argues that organisation must be understood as always supposing a diverse ecology of different initiatives and organisational forms. Drawing from a wide array of sources and traditions that include cybernetics, poststructuralism, network theory and Marxism, Nunes develops a grammar that eschews easy oppositions between "verticalism" and "horizontalism", centralisation and dispersion, and offers a fresh approach to enduring issues like spontaneity, leadership, democracy, strategy, populism, revolution, and the relationship between movements and parties.
The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey             $37
Erica Marsden's son, an artist, has been imprisoned for homicidal negligence. In a state of grief, Erica cuts off all ties to family and friends, and retreats to a quiet hamlet on the south-east coast near the prison where he is serving his sentence. There, in a rundown shack, she obsesses over creating a labyrinth by the ocean. To build it - to find a way out of her quandary - Erica will need the help of strangers. 
Winner of the 2021 Miles Franklin award. 
"A deeply meditative book. Lohrey's writing here is beautifully layered, rich in imagery and meaning, without ever being laboured. The Labyrinth offers a pull towards the unknown and a comfort in solitude. It is a sharply tuned novel, a sprawling narrative that resists rigid expectations, instead allowing those who inhabit the pages to surrender themselves to the mode of 'reversible destiny' that it is constructed around." —Guardian
The Last Man Takes LSD: Foucault and the end of revolution by Mitchell Dean and Damiel Zamora        $43
In May 1975, Michel Foucault took LSD in the desert in southern California. He described it afterwards as the most important event of his life, and it led him to turn away from his critique of power relations and focus instead on the experiments of subjectivity, and the care of the self. Through this lens he would re-evaluate his political positioning and incline towards the apparent mechanisms of autonomy inherent in a new force on the French political scene: neoliberalism(!).
"Michel Foucault saw neoliberalism as an opportunity to think about the revitalisation of civil society. The authors Daniel Zamora and Mitchell Dean explain why he lost sight of its authoritarian dimension." - Woz
Patented: 1000 deign patents edited by Thomas Rinaldi        $70
An unprecedented, essential field guide to more than a century of fascinating product and industrial design. From legendary classics to anonymous objects that are indispensable in homes and offices, this collection of original patent documents celebrates the creative genius of designers, inventors, creators, innovators, and dreamer, including Eero Saarinen, Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Ettore Sottsass, Raymond Loewy, and George Nelson, alongside everyday designs for tape dispensers, pencil sharpeners, food processors, desk fans, and drink bottles.

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota            $35
Mehar, a young bride in rural 1929 Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. She and her sisters-in-law, married to three brothers in a single ceremony, spend their days hard at work in the family's ‘china room’, sequestered from contact with the men. When Mehar develops a theory as to which of them is hers, a passion is ignited that will put more than one life at risk. Spiralling around Mehar's story is that of a young man who in 1999 travels from England to the now-deserted farm, its ‘china room’ locked and barred. In enforced flight from the traumas of his adolescence — his experiences of addiction, racism, and estrangement from the culture of his birth — he spends a summer in painful contemplation and recovery, finally finding the strength to return home.
What Artists Wear by Charlie Porter             $30
In the hands of artists, garments reveal themselves to be tools of expression, storytelling, resistance and creativity. In What Artists Wear, style luminary Charlie Porter takes us on an invigorating, eye-opening journey through the iconic outfits worn by artists, in the studio, on stage, at work, at home and at play. From Yves Klein's spotless tailoring to the kaleidoscopic costumes of Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman; from Andy Warhol's signature denim to Charlotte Prodger's casualwear, Porter's roving eye picks out the magical, revealing details in the clothes he encounters, weaving together a new way of understanding artists, and of dressing ourselves. 

The Promise by Damon Galgut              $37
A taut and menacing novel that charts the crash and burn of an Afrikaans family, the Swarts. Punctuated by funerals that bring the ever-diminishing family together, each of the four parts opens with a death and a new decade of South African history. As we traverse the decades, Galgut interweaves the story of a disappointed nation from apartheid to Jacob Zuma.
"The Promise is fully rooted in contemporary South Africa, but the novel's weather moves into the elemental while attending also to the daily, the detailed and the personal. The book is close to a folktale or the retelling of a myth about fate and loss, about three siblings and land, a promise made and broken. The story has an astonishing sense of depth, as though the characters were imagined over time, with slow tender care." —Colm Toibin
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead      $37
In 1920s Montana, wild-hearted orphan Marian Graves spends her days roaming the rugged forests and mountains of her home. When she witnesses the roll, loop and dive of two barnstorming pilots, she promises herself that one day she too will take to the skies. Years later, after a series of reckless romances and a spell flying to aid the British war effort, Marian embarks on a treacherous flight around the globe in search of the freedom she has always craved. She is never seen again. More than half a century later, Hadley Baxter, a troubled Hollywood starlet beset by scandal, is irresistibly drawn to play Marian Graves in her biopic, a role that will lead her to probe the deepest mysteries of the vanished pilot's life."Thoroughly clever." —Guardian
What a Submarine Sees: A fold-out journey under the waves by Laura Knowles and Vivian Mineker        $28
This charming concertina book follows the journey of a little submersible on a voyage beneath the waves, down into the deep ocean and back again. Folding out to nearly 2.5 metres, children can look at all the different things the sub sees on its way, as it travels past a shipwreck, through a coral reef, near to a pod of orcas hunting for their lunch, past a leatherback turtle feasting on jellyfish, and past some rather strange fish as the ocean gets deeper and darker.
The Bedside Book of Birds: An avian miscellany edited by Graeme Gibson          $95
Sumptuously illustrated and ranging through literature, mythology and natural history, The Bedside Book of Birds is an unexpected and fascinating treasure trove of paintings, drawings, essays and scientific observations. It conveys the hope, the longing and the enchantment that birds have evoked in humans in all cultures and all times. With an introduction by Gibson's widow, Margaret Atwood. 

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris             $35
In the dying days of the American Civil War, newly freed brothers Landry and Prentiss find themselves cast into the world without a penny to their names. Forced to hide out in the woods near their former Georgia plantation, they're soon discovered by the land's owner, George Walker, a man still reeling from the loss of his son in the war. When the brothers begin to live and work on George's farm, the tentative bonds of trust and union begin to blossom between the strangers. But this sanctuary survives on a knife's edge, and it isn't long before the inhabitants of the nearby town of Old Ox react with fury at the alliances being formed only a few miles away.
"Better than any debut novel has a right to be." —Richard Russo
"Gardening, then, is a practice of sustained noticing." In this collection of essays, fourteen writers go beyond simply considering a plot of soil to explore how gardening is a shared language, an opportunity for connection, something that is always evolving. Penelope Lively trains her gardening eye on her gardens past and present; Paul Mendez reflects on the image of the paradisal garden; Jon Day asks whether an urban community garden can be a radical place; and Victoria Adukwei Bulley considers the power of herbs and why there is no such thing as a weed.
A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson              $37
Clara's sister is missing. Angry, rebellious Rose had a row with their mother, stormed out of the house and simply disappeared. Eight-year-old Clara, isolated by her distraught parents' efforts to protect her from the truth, is grief-stricken and bewildered. Liam Kane, newly divorced, newly unemployed, newly arrived in this small northern town, moves into the house next door – a house left to him by an old woman he can barely remember — and within hours gets a visit from the police. It seems he's suspected of a crime. At the end of her life Elizabeth Orchard is thinking about a crime too, one committed thirty years ago that had tragic consequences for two families and in particular for one small child. She desperately wants to make amends before she dies. Set in Northern Ontario in 1972, A Town Called Solace explores the relationships of these three people brought together by fate and the mistakes of the past.
 Adam Sedgwick was a priest and scholar. Roderick Murchison was a retired soldier. Charles Lapworth was a schoolteacher. It was their personal and intellectual rivalry, pursued on treks through Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Devon and parts of western Russia, that revealed the narrative structure of the Paleozoic Era, the 300-million-year period during which life on Earth became recognisably itself.
"A joyful collision of science, history and nature writing, The Greywacke shines a light on the almost superhuman feats of endurance, the unglamorous physical realities, the many, many hours of patient labour that the science of geology is built upon." —Helen Gordon
The comparative study of the southern Polynesian islands and Rapa Nui provides a thematic examination of movement and migration, adaptation and change, and development and expansion to offer an optimal means of understanding Polynesia during this period, in an account that incorporates oral traditions, historical analysis and archaeology.

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