Friday 29 April 2022


Companion Piece by Ali Smith                 $37
"A story is never an answer. A story is always a question." Here we are in extraordinary times. Is this history? What happens when we cease to trust governments, the media, each other? What have we lost? What stays with us? What does it take to unlock our future? Ali Smith follows her wonderful 'Seasons' quartet, written in 'real time', with this further novel. Few writers can manage to be at the same time as angry and as playful as Ali Smith, and few can directly face the most depressing aspects of our present moment and find such hope in humanity.  
"A lockdown story of wayward genius. Lyrical visions alternate with fables and farce, history with Covid, in the scheme-busting fifth part of Smith's seasonal quartet." —The Guardian 
"Ali Smith is lighting us a path out of the nightmarish now." —Observer
Also available as a beautiful cloth-bound hardback.
Tides by Sara Freeman            $33
A spare and taut novel about a woman who, finding her life suddenly drained of meaning after a tragedy, removes herself from her life and habits and ends up drifting penniless in a coastal town, where her encounters with tourists and locals at first alienate her still further from any sense she might have had of herself and then force her to re-examine her ideas of separation and connection, and the trajectory that brought her there. 
"Beautifully observed." —The Irish Times

Metronome by Tom Watson          $33
For twelve years Aina and Whitney have been in exile on an island for a crime they committed together, tethered to a croft by pills they must take for survival every eight hours. They've kept busy: Aina with her garden, her jigsaw, her music; Whitney with his sculptures and maps, but something is not right. Shipwrecks have begun washing up, and their supply drops have stopped. And on the day they're meant to be collected for parole, the Warden does not come. As days pass, Aina begins to suspect that their prison is part of a peninsula, and that Whitney has been keeping secrets. And if he's been keeping secrets, maybe she should too. Convinced they've been abandoned, she starts investigating ways she might escape. As she comes to grips with the decisions that haunt her past, she realises her biggest choice is yet to come.
"Taut, unsettling and so completely charged with both tension and emotion, I found myself captivated by Metronome. I loved the clarity of its vision and the clean intensity of its prose, and I know that its vivid characters and the bleak, brutal beauty of the world they inhabit will haunt my dreams for a long time." —Naomi Ishiguro
A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam            $23
Short-listed for last year's Booker Prize, Arudpragasam's novel explores the deep psychological and social impacts of the long civil war in Sri Lanka, and the struggle for agency for young people overwhelmed by societal trauma. 
"A Passage North is written with scrupulous attention to nuance and detail. At its center is an exquisite form of noticing, a way of rendering consciousness and handling time that connects Arudpragasam to the great novelists of the past." —Colm Toibin
"A Passage North is a profound and disquieting account of the making of a self, of the pressures of history, desire, will, and chance that determine the shape of a life. It's difficult to think of comparisons for Arudpragasam's work among current English-language writers; one senses a new mastery coming into being." —Garth Greenwell
>>It was his first time travelling north by train
>>No wrong answers.
>>How the past can enlighten our future
Paradais by Fernanda Melchor (translated by Sophie Hughes)           $37
Written in a chilling torrent of prose by one of Mexico’s most thrilling writers, Paradais explores the explosive fragility of Mexican society. Inside a luxury housing complex, two misfit teenagers sneak around and get drunk. Franco Andrade, lonely, overweight, and addicted to porn, obsessively fantasizes about seducing his neighbour - an attractive married woman and mother. Meanwhile Polo, the community’s gardener, dreams about quitting his gruelling job and fleeing his overbearing mother and their narco-controlled village. As each face the impossibility of getting what they think they deserve, together Franco and Polo hatch a mindless and macabre scheme.
>>Longlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize.
Dominating the farmyard of the house where Sally Coulthard and her husband live in the gentle Howardian Hills of North Yorkshire is a large, stone-built barn. When Sally discovered a set of ancient 'witch-marks' scratched into the wall of the barn, she became intrigued by the sturdy old building and the story behind it. 
The Barn is a socio-historic exploration of a small patch of Yorkshire countryside - hidden, insignificant, invisible to the rest of the world - which has experienced extraordinary changes. From the last of the enclosures to the boom days of Victorian high farming, the fortunes of the barn have been repeatedly upturned by the unstoppable forces of agriculture and industry. Medicine, transport, education, farming, women's roles, war, technology - every facet of society was played out, in miniature, here. The walls of the barn are a palimpsest, written onto - and now about - by three hundred years of history.
Britain's Empire: Resistance, repression and revolt by Richard Gott          $25
Contrary to nationalist legend and schoolboy history lessons, the British Empire was not a great civilising power bringing light to the darker corners of the earth. Richard Gott recounts the empire's misdeeds from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the Indian Mutiny, spanning the red-patched imperial globe  to Australia, telling a story of almost continuous colonialist violence. Recounting events from the perspective of the colonised, Gott unearths the all-but-forgotten stories excluded from mainstream histories.
"Vivid and startling." —Guardian

Sticky: The secret science of surfaces by Laurie Winkless           $33
You are surrounded by stickiness. With every step you take, air molecules cling to you and slow you down; the effect is harder to ignore in water. When you hit the road, whether powered by pedal or engine, you rely on grip to keep you safe. The Post-it note and glue in your desk drawer. The non-stick pan on your stove. The fingerprints linked to your identity. The rumbling of the Earth deep beneath your feet, and the ice that transforms waterways each winter. All of these things are controlled by tiny forces that operate on and between surfaces, with friction playing the leading role. Winkless explores some of the ways that friction shapes both the manufactured and natural worlds, and describes how our understanding of surface science has given us an ability to manipulate stickiness, down to the level of a single atom. 
The Ruin of Witches: Life and death in the New World by Malcolm Gaskill             $45
In the American frontier town of Springfield in 1651, peculiar things begin to happen. Precious food spoils, livestock ails and property vanishes. People suffer fits, and are plagued by strange visions and dreams. Children sicken and die. As tensions rise, rumours spread of witches and heretics, and the community becomes tangled in a web of spite, distrust and denunciation. The finger of suspicion falls on a young couple struggling to make a home and feed their children. It will be their downfall. The Ruin of All Witches tells of witch-hunting in a remote Massachusetts plantation. These were the turbulent beginnings of colonial America, when English settlers' dreams of love and liberty, of founding a 'city on a hill', gave way to paranoia and terror, enmity and rage. Gaskill brings to life an existence steeped in the divine and the diabolic, in curses and enchantments, and precariously balanced between life and death. Through the micro-history of a family tragedy, we glimpse an entire society caught in agonized transition between superstition and enlightenment, tradition and innovation. We see, in short, the birth of the modern world.
"Malcolm Gaskill shows us with filmic vividness the daily life of the riven, marginal community of Springfield, where settlers from a far country dwell on the edge of the unknown. The clarity of his thought and his writing, his insight, and the immediacy of the telling, combine to make this the best and most enjoyable kind of history writing. Malcolm Gaskill goes to meet the past on its own terms and in its own place, and the result is thought-provoking and absorbing." —Hilary Mantel
Recovery: The lost art of convalescence by Gavin Francis           $12
When it comes to illness, sometimes the end is just the beginning. Recovery and convalescence are words that exist at the periphery of our lives - until we are forced to contend with what they really mean. Here, Gavin Francis explores how - and why - we get better, revealing the many shapes recovery takes, its shifting history and the frequent failure of our modern lives to make adequate space for it.

The Babel Message: A love letter to language by Keith Kahn-Harris          $33
A journey into the heart of language from a rather unexpected starting point. Keith Kahn-Harris is obsessed with something seemingly trivial: the warning message found inside Kinder Surprise eggs: "WARNING, read and keep: Toy not suitable for children under 3 years. Small parts might be swallowed or inhaled." On a tiny sheet of paper, this message is translated into dozens of languages - the world boiled down to a multilingual essence. Inspired by this, the author asks: what makes 'a language'? With the help of the international community of language geeks, he shows us what the message looks like in Ancient Sumerian, Zulu, Cornish, Klingon - and many more. Along the way he considers why he thinks Hungarian writing looks angry, how to make up your own language, and the meaning of the heavy metal umlaut. Overturning the Babel myth, he argues that the messy diversity of language shouldn't be a source of conflict, but of collective wonder. 
Welcome to the Universe in 3-D: A visual tour by Neil DeGrasse Tyson at al           $45
Presenting a rich array of stereoscopic color images, which can be viewed in 3D using a special stereo viewer that folds easily out of the cover of the book, this book reveals your cosmic environment as you have never seen it before.
To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life by Hervé Guibert         $25
After being diagnosed with AIDS, Hervé Guibert wrote this devastating, darkly humorous and personal novel, chronicling three months in the penultimate year of the narrator's life. In the wake of his friend Muzil's death, he goes from one quack doctor to another, from holidays to test centres, and charts the highs and lows of trying to cheat death. On publication in 1990, the novel scandalized French media, which quickly identified Muzil as Guibert's close friend Michel Foucault. The book has since attained a cult following for its tender, fragmented and beautifully written accounts of illness, friendship, sex, art and everyday life. 
>>Read Kate Zambreno's To Write As If Already Dead—about her attempts to write an account of Guibert and this book
Dark and Magical Places: The neuroscience of how we navigate by Christopher Kemp          $43
Within our heads, we carry around an infinite and endlessly unfolding map of the world. Navigation is one of the most ancient neural abilities we have — older even than language. Kemp embarks on a journey to discover the remarkable extent of what our minds can do. From the secrets of supernavigators to the strange, dreamlike environments inhabited by people with 'place blindness', he will explore the myriad ways in which we find our way, explain the cutting-edge neuroscience that is transforming our understanding of it — and try to answer why, for a species with a highly-sophisticated internal navigation system that evolved over millions of years, do humans get lost such a lot?
The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante           $23
Leda is devoted to her work as an English teacher and to her two children. When her daughters leave home to be with their father in Canada, Leda anticipates a period of loneliness and longing. Instead, slightly embarrassed by the sensation, she feels liberated, as if her life has become lighter, easier. She decides to take a holiday by the sea, in a small coastal town in southern Italy. But after a few days of calm and quiet, things begin to take a menacing turn. Leda encounters a family whose brash presence proves unsettling, at times even threatening. When a small, apparently meaningless, event occurs, Leda is overwhelmed by memories of the difficult and unconventional choices she made as a mother and their consequences for herself and her family.
Grow! A children's guide to plants and how to grow them by Rizanino Reyes            $43
In this book, discover 15 plants, then learn how to grow them. Meet each plant's surprising relations (did you know the tasty tomato is a cousin of deadly nightshade?) discover their history (bromeliads defended themselves against the dinosaurs!). Then, follow the step-by-step instructions to grow and care for each plant, whether you have a big back garden or a sunny windowsill. Beautifully illustrated and full of information. 
Violets by Alex Hyde          $33
A young woman, Violet, lies in a hospital bed in the closing days of the World War Two. Her pregnancy is over and she is no longer able to conceive. With her husband deployed to the Pacific Front and her friends caught up in transitory love affairs, she must find a way to put herself back together. In a small, watchful town in the Welsh valleys, another Violet contemplates the fate she shares with her unborn child. Unwed and unwanted, an overseas posting offers a temporary way out. Plunged into the heat and disorder of Naples, her body begins to reveal the responsibility it carries even as she is drawn into the burnished circle of a charismatic new friend, Maggie. As the stories of these two Violets begin to intertwine, they both must find the courage necessary to take hold of their lives. 
"This is a profoundly unusual novel, an intricately composed and thoroughly corporeal portrait of the intertwined lives of two women during the war." —Guardian
The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore            $23
England, 1643. Parliament is battling the King; the war between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers rages. Puritanical fervour has gripped the nation, and the hot terror of damnation burns black in every shadow. In Manningtree, depleted of men since the wars began, the women are left to their own devices. At the margins of this diminished community are those who are barely tolerated by the affluent villagers - the old, the poor, the unmarried, the sharp-tongued. Rebecca West, daughter of the formidable Beldam West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only by her infatuation with the clerk John Edes. But then newcomer Matthew Hopkins, a mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, takes over The Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about the women of the margins. When a child falls ill with a fever and starts to rave about covens and pacts, the questions take on a bladed edge. Soon the town is hosting witch trails and the atmosphere of distrust and betrayal grows more extreme. Now in paperback. 
>>Angels in anguish
>>Also available in hardback
Groundskeeping by Lee Cole             $37
Eager to clean up his act after his troubled early twenties, Owen has returned to Kentucky to take a job as a groundskeeper at a small college in the Appalachian foothills, one which allows him to enrol on their writing course. It's there that he meets Alma, a Writer-in-Residence, who seems to have everything Owen doesn't — a prestigious position, an Ivy League education, and published success as a writer. They begin a secret relationship, and as they grow closer, Alma, from a supportive, liberal family of Bosnian immigrants, struggles to understand Owen's fraught relationship with his own family and home. Exploring the boundaries between life and art, and how our upbringings affect the people we can become, Groundskeeping is a novel about two very different people navigating the turbulence of an all-consuming relationship.
Nano: The spectacular science of the very (very) small by Jess Wade and Melissa Castrillón          $22
This exciting non-fiction picture book introduces young readers to the fascinating (and cutting-edge) science of the very, very small. Everything is made from something – but the way we make things, from the materials we use to the science and technology involved, is changing fast. 
"Beautiful. Plunges deep into the world of atoms, materials and the applications of nanoscience, with accessible text and richly shaded pictures." –Guardian
The Howling Hag Mystery by Nicki Thornton           $20
When there's a murder in Twinhills and a hag is heard howling at the local inn, Raven Charming realises she may not be the only secret witch in the village. With the help of boy sleuth Mortimer Scratch, and talking cat Nightshade, she sets out to solve her first magical mystery.
Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles             $28
Eccentric, impulsive New York heiress, Christina Goering meets the anxious but equally unpredictable Mrs Copperfield at a party. Two serious ladies, for whom nothing s natural and anything is possible, they follow their singular paths in search of salvation. Mrs Copperfield visits Panama with her husband, whom she abandons for love of Pacifica, a local prostitute, and her brothel home. Miss Goering, for her part, seeks redemption by swapping her mansion for a squalid little house and relishing ever more extreme encounters with strangers. At the end, the two women meet again. First published in 1943, Two Serious Ladies is daring and original, with deadpan humour and devastating insights.
"The book I give as a gift. It feels like giving someone an exotic fruit." —Sheila Heti
Plain Pleasures by Jane Bowles            $28
In this collection of short fiction, ranging from North Africa to South America, Bowles explores her fascination with the hidden lives of apparently ordinary middle-aged women.
"One of the finest modern writers of fiction in any language." —John Ashberry
"A thoroughly original mind - a mind at once profoundly witty, genuinely unusual in its apprehensions, and bracingly, humanely true." —Claire Messud

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