Saturday 23 October 2021


Great Works by Oscar Mardell               $32
Great Works consists of thirteen poems, each about a different freezing works in Aotearoa New Zealand. Satirising the colonial-pastoral mythologies through which the local landscape has often been interpreted, the collection gives due attention to an industry which, in spite of its centrality to the nation’s economic history, has remained conspicuously absent from its art and literature. Here, as in Bataille, ‘the slaughterhouse is linked to religion’: Great Works offers a darkly comic view of sacrifice and slaughter in ‘God’s Own Country’. Limited edition of 100. 
>>Read some of the poems
>>Stella reviews the book on RNZ
>>Neutral spaces

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen            $38
Franzen's acute and often hilarious observations on the dynamics and dysfunctions of family life reach a sort of apogee in this unsparing but strangely warm and nuanced novel, set in 1971 as the family of American suburban pastor Russ Hildebrandt feels the pressure of change and starts to lose its acceptable veneer. 
"Warm, expansive and funny – a pure pleasure to read." —Guardian
"Crossroads is Franzen's finest novel yet. He has arrived at last as an artist whose first language, faced with the society of greed, is not ideological but emotional, and whose emotions, fused with his characters, tend more toward sorrow and compassion than rage and self-contempt. —BookForum
>>We have signed copies available. Be quick. 
Exteriors by Annie Ernaux (translated by Tanya Leslie)            $32
Taking the form of random journal entries over the course of seven years, Exteriors concentrates on the ephemeral encounters that take place just on the periphery of a person’s lived environment. Ernaux captures the feeling of contemporary living on the outskirts of Paris: poignantly lyrical, chaotic, and strangely alive. Exteriors is in many ways the most ecstatic of Ernaux’s books – the first in which she appears largely free of the haunting personal relationships she has written about so powerfully elsewhere, and the first in which she is able to leave the past behind her.
"I find her work extraordinary."  —Eimear McBride
"Admirable for its quiet grace as well as its audacity in a willingness to note (and thus make noteworthy) the smallest parts of life." —Irish Times
How to Start Writing (and When to Stop): Advide to writers by Wisława Szymborska (translated by Clare Cavanagh)          $34
A very enjoyable collection of brief, witty and frequently ironically precise and  responses to submissions to the writing advice column Szymborska ran anonymously in a Polish literary journal. Illustrated with her own collages. 
>>Learning to write from life. 

Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles             $33
Nina Mingya Powles first learned to swim in Borneo - where her mother was born and her grandfather studied freshwater fish. There, the local swimming pool became her first body of water. Through her life there have been others that have meant different things, but have still been, in their own way, home: from the wild coastline of New Zealand to a pond in northwest London. This collection of essays explores the bodies of water that separate and connect us, as well as everything from migration, food, family, earthquakes and the ancient lunisolar calendar to butterflies. 
>>The safe zone
Dark Neighbourhood by Vanessa Onwuemezi          $35
At the border with another world, a line of people wait for the gates to open; on the floor of a lonely room, a Born Winner runs through his life’s achievements and losses; in a suburban garden, a man witnesses a murder that pushes him out into the community. Struggling to realize the human ideals of love and freedom, the characters of Dark Neighbourhood roam instead the depths of alienation, loss and shame. With a detached eye and hallucinatory vision, they observe the worlds around them as the line between dream and reality dissolves and they themselves begin to fragment.
"Dark Neighbourhood is a thrill and a challenge. Vanessa Onwuemezi is her own thing, but reading her I experience the same exciting, destabilizing sense of the world being shown anew – being made anew – that I get from Silvina Ocampo, Clarice Lispector or Dambudzo Marechera." —Chris Power
"In disrupted and disrupting prose, Vanessa Onwuemezi achieves the dissolution of consciousness and slippage of omniscience found in poetry and in life. Her cool authority expresses itself in rigorous, original formal decisions and a detached, exacting lyricism. The seven stories in Dark Neighbourhood construct our condition as a limbo in which neither the waiting nor the waited-for offers satisfaction or resolution, but in which, as the book’s epigraph suggests, Night is also a sun." —Kathryn Scanlan
A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam           $33
"Anuk Arudpragasam's masterful novel is an attempt to come to terms with life in the wake of the devastation of Sri Lanka's 30-year civil war. As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the war-torn Northern Province to attend a family funeral, so begins an astonishing passage into the innermost reaches of a country. At once a powerful meditation on absence and longing, and an unsparing account of the legacy of Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war, this procession to a pyre ‘at the end of the earth’ lays bare the imprints of an island’s past, the unattainable distances between who we are and what we seek." —Judges' commendation on short-listing the book for the 2021 Booker Prize
Letters to My Weird Sisters: On autism and feminism by Joanna Limburg          $37
"It seemed to me that many of the moments when my autism had caused problems, or at least marked me out as different, were those moments when I had come up against some unspoken law about how a girl or a woman should be, and failed to meet it." An autism diagnosis in midlife enabled Joanne Limburg to finally make sense of why her emotional expression, social discomfort and presentation had always marked her as an outsider. Eager to discover other women who had been misunderstood in their time, she writes a series of wide-ranging letters to four 'weird sisters' from history, addressing topics including autistic parenting, social isolation, feminism, the movement for disability rights and the appalling punishments that have been meted out over centuries to those deemed to fall short of the norm. 
The Inseparables by Simone de Beauvoir (translated by Lauren Elkin)          $30
Written in 1954, five years after The Second Sex, the novel of the intense relationship between two girls who grow up together and then grow apart was never published in Simone de Beauvoir's lifetime. This first English edition includes an afterword by her adopted daughter, who discovered the manuscript hidden in a drawer, and photographs of the real-life friendship which inspired and tormented the author.
The Last and the First by Nina Berberova (translated by Marian Schwartz)          $28
On a crisp September morning, trouble comes to the Gorbatovs' farm. Having fled the ruins of the Russian Revolution, they have endured crushing labour to set up a small farm in Provence. For young Ilya Stepanovich, this is to be the future of Russian life in France; for some of his Paris-dwelling countrymen, it is a betrayal of roots, culture and the path back to the motherland. Now, with the arrival of a letter from the capital and a figure from the family's past, their fragile stability. 
"A unique, harmonious, and brilliant book. Her language is uncommonly strong and pure; her images are magnificent for their solid and precise power. This is literature of the highest quality, the work of a genuine writer." —Vladimir Nabokov
"'Haunting. As graceful and subtle as Chekhov." —Anne Tyler
>>The translator introduces us to the author
There's a Ghost in this House by Oliver Jeffers           $38
A young girl looks everywhere in the haunted house but cannot find the ghosts that are supposed to live here. The glassine overlays show the reader just where they are hiding (and playing), however. A large amount of lightly spooky fun. 
The Making of Incarnation by Tom McCarthy          $37
Deep within the archives of time-and-motion pioneer Lillian Gilbreth lies a secret. Famous for producing solid light-tracks that captured the path of workers' movements, Gilbreth helped birth the era of mass observation and big data. Did she also, as her broken correspondence with a young Soviet physicist suggests, discover in her final days a 'perfect' movement, one that would 'change everything'? An international hunt begins for the one box missing from her records, and we follow contemporary motion-capture consultant Mark Phocan, as well as his collaborators and shadowy antagonists, across geo-political fault lines and experimental zones- medical labs, CGI studios, military research centres . . . Places where the frontiers of potential — to cure, kill, understand or entertain — are constantly tested and refined. And all the while, work is underway on the blockbuster film Incarnation, an epic space tragedy. Commercial box-office fodder? Or a sublimely mythical exploration of the animation, contemplation and possession of flesh — ours and others' — traumatised, erotic, beautiful, obscene... McCarthy's new novel is disconcerting on a new number of levels. 
>>Everything becomes buffering
>>The most frightening book trailer ever. 
>>Books by Tom McCarthy. 
Tussock by Bruce Hunt          $70
A large-format volume of impressive and evocative photographs of the Canterbury and Otago uplands. 
Maman: The cookbook by Elisa Marshall, Benjamin Sormonte, and Lauren Salkeld         $50
The 100 recipes you need to either run a series of French cafés and bakeries or just really enjoy eating at home. 
Borges and Me: An encounter by Jay Parini                  $37
In this evocative work of what the author in his Afterword calls 'autofiction' or 'a kind of novelised memoir', Jay Parini takes us back fifty years, when he fled the United States for Scotland. He was in frantic flight from the Vietnam War and desperately in search of his adult life. There, through unlikely circumstances, he met famed Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges. Borges was blind, in his seventies and frail. Parini was asked to look after him while his translator was unexpectedly called away. When Borges heard that Parini owned a 1957 Morris Minor, he declared a long-held wish to visit the Scottish Highlands, where he hoped to meet a man in Inverness who was interested in Anglo-Saxon riddles. As they travelled, the charmingly garrulous Borges took Parini on a grand tour of western literature and ideas while promising to teach him about love and poetry. As Borges's world of labyrinths, mirrors and doubles shimmered into being, their escapades took a surreal turn.
Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman, illustrated by Chris Wormell              $35
Two years after the events of 'His Dark Materials', Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon sit high on the roof of Jordan College, gazing down on the streets of Oxford. But their peace is shattered by a flock of enraged starlings, who seem intent on knocking another bird out of the sky — a bird that Lyra and Pan quickly realise is a witch's daemon. The daemon carries worrying tidings of a terrible sickness spreading in the north, and claims that only Lyra can help him — but is he really friend, or foe? A beautiful colour-illustrated edition. 

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