Friday 22 July 2022


Yell, Sam, If You Still Can by Maylis Besserie (translated by Clíona Ní Ríordáin)        $42
In Maylis Besserie's novel, Samuel Beckett at the end of his life in 1989, living in Le Tiers-Temps retirement home. It is as if Beckett has come to live in one of his own stage productions, peopled with strange, unhinged individuals, waiting for the end of days. Yell, Sam, If You Still Can is filled with voices. From diary notes to clinical reports to daily menus, cool medical voices provide a counterpoint to Beckett himself, who reflects on his increasingly fragile existence. He remains playful, rueful, and aware of the dramatic irony that has brought him to live in the room next door to Winnie, surrounded by grotesques like Hamm or Lucky, abandoned by his wife Suzanne who died before him.
"To set out to portray a master stylist, the author of Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable, would daunt the most experienced writer. That this is Besserie’s debut is remarkable; that she carries it off so convincingly, with such elan and poetic force, is a wonder. Besserie does not mimic the style of Beckett’s threnodies, yet she evokes, subtly and with great skill, a fitting intensity, bleak lyricism and black humour." —John Banville, Guardian
"If the small detail can reveal the large life, and the tiny reveal the epic, then Maylis Besserie has uncovered the gem of an expansive life. This beautifully translated book is an evocation of Beckett’s last days, told from a variety of angles, all of which add up to a portrait of great humanity. Beckett goes on, even in spite of it all, with humour and grace and his own form of deep belief." —Colum McCann
An audacious act of the imagination." —Books Ireland
After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz            $36
Told in a series of cascading vignettes, featuring a collective multitude of voices, After Sappho reimagines the lives of a brilliant group of feminists, sapphists, artists and writers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as they battle for liberation, justice and control over their own lives.
"This book is splendid: impish, irate, deep, courageous, moving, funny…and truly significant, I think." —Lucy Ellmann
"It’s brilliant, an unobtrusive, quietly mesmerising, imagined collocation of linked feminist lives that succeeds in delineating a movement bigger than all of them without diminishing any one of them." —Ian Patterson
"After Sappho is superb. Mesmerising. Such incredible writing. And thinking. Selby Wynn Schwartz tips everyone out of the water." —Deborah Levy
"A bold and original novel." —Guardian
Carnality by Lina Wolff (translated by Frank Perry)             $38
Awarded a three-month stipend to travel and work, a Swedish writer flies to Madrid, where in a bar she meets a man with an extraordinary story to tell. In exchange for somewhere to sleep and to hide out for a few days, he is willing to tell her the whole astonishing tale. What follows is an account of fantastic proportions and ingredients: the existence of a shadowy Internet TV show with a certain morality clause, a threat to the storyteller's life, a diabolical nun, and the story of a girl with a missing left thumb. The tale is also the precursor to a meeting between the writer and the infernal miracle worker, Lucia—a meeting that ultimately forces the writer to make a fateful decision about her own inner essence.
"Lina Wolff is a literary monster, she has a hundred eyes and senses things that the rest of us can't see. That's how she has been able to write this story that retells the twisted, horrible, funny, sometimes beautiful mysteries contained in the apparent sack of meat that we are." —Yuri Herrera
Ready, Steady, School! by Marianne Dubuc              $45
Next year, Pom will be starting school. But a year's too long to wait when you're excited. Today, Pom has decided to visit some friends by dropping in on different animal schools. At Little Leapers, the rabbits are learning how to read, write and count. At Bulrushes, the frogs are creating beautiful artwork. At F is for Foxtrot, the foxes are playing different sports. What if Pom's dream school was a little bit of all that? One thing's for sure : school is an amazing adventure! Marianne Dubuc, the creator of this book, has hidden lots of details in the illustrations. In every school Pom visits, you can find: an animal having a nap, an animal dropping something, an animal eating a snack, an animal who is reading, an animal visiting from another school. Completely delightful!
Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi (translated by Marilyn Booth)             $35
The eagerly awaited new novel from the author of Celestial Bodies (winner of the 2019 International Booker Prize). Zuhur, an Omani student at a British university, is caught between the past and the present. As she attempts to form friendships and assimilate in Britain, she can’t help but ruminate on the relationships that have been central to her life. Most prominent is her strong emotional bond with Bint Amir, a woman she always thought of as her grandmother, who passed away just after Zuhur left the Arabian Peninsula. As the historical narrative of Bint Amir’s challenged circumstances unfurls in captivating fragments, so too does Zuhur’s isolated and unfulfilled present, one narrative segueing into another as time slips, and dreams mingle with memories.  
"A rich and powerful novel that showcases the interplay between memory and emigration and the precariousness of sisterhood in a world that encourages the domination of men, told in a sumptuous and incisive translation by Marilyn Booth."  —Jennifer Croft  
Wreck: Géricault's raft and the art of being lost at sea by Tom de Freston           $40
Artist Tom de Freston has long had an obsession with Gericault's painting 'The Raft of the Medusa', and the troubling story behind its creation. The monumental canvas, which hangs in the Louvre, depicts a 19th century tragedy in which 150 people were drowned at sea on a raft lost in a stormy sea, when the ship Medusa was wrecked on shallow ground. When de Freston began making an artwork with Ali, a Syrian writer blinded by a bombing, The Raft's depiction of pain and suffering resonated powerfully with him, as did Gericault's awful life story. It spoke not only to Ali's story but to Tom's family history of trauma and anguish, offering him a passage out of the dark waters in which he found himself.
"Gericault's Raft stands as a statement as much as painting, a history lesson, a nightmare, a gigantic perfidy, a visual shorthand for abuse and disaster rendered in exquisite oils. In pulses of literary reference and art history and Gericault's own radical life story, de Freston evokes a provocative new voyage for the rotting raft — seen through his own visceral experience of the vast painting, and its uproarious terrors and visions, which hold a mortal but undying resonance for our own times. A stupendous work." —Philip Hoare
"To read Wreck is to observe a mind as it delves into the pentimenti of the past, moving through complexities of horror, art, solidarity, and trauma. Unforgettable." —Doireann Ni Ghriofa
>>'The Raft of the Medusa'. 
A Fish in the Swim of the World by Ben Brown         $30
This classic memoir by one of Aotearoa's most prominent Maori writers is now updated with new material. "This is a book of memories. Some of them are my own. Some of them belong to others. They are as true and as fallible as any memories—distorted by time and distance and a writer's choice of words." In the memoir that kickstarted a writing career that has spawned more than 20 books, including many award-winners, Ben Brown writes of a quintessentially New Zealand way of living that may not change the world or even ripple its waters, but is replete with meaning. Gathered from the tobacco-green valleys of the Motueka River where he grew up during the 1960s and 1970s, Brown's memoir is rich with a sense of place, and of family. The strands of his parents' lives reach from Outback Australia and the hardship years of the Great Depression and World War II, to the Waikato heart of the Kingitanga and a re-emergent people, to a time and place where tobacco was 'king' and a small farm by a river was the sum of all ambition. 
The Absolute by Daniel Geubel (translated by Jessica Sequeira)          $40
The Absolute is a sprawling historical novel about the Deliuskin-Scriabin family, made up of six generations of geniuses and madmen. Beginning in the mid-18th century in Russia, across Europe and ending in late 20th-century Argentina, the characters' lives play out in different branches of art, politics and science in such radical ways that they transform the world and its reality. The narrator's ancestor, Frantisek Deliuskin, invents a new form of music in the 18th century; his son, Andrei Deliuskin, makes some marginal annotations to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola that are later interpreted by Lenin as an instruction manual to carry out the Russian Revolution of 1917; Esau Deliuskin, following the course of his father, creates a socialist utopian society; and down through the generations to the narrator, whose creation takes him back in time and space to the moment of the Big Bang.
"The Absolute is an extraordinary novel, an exploration of memory and music, of social history, science and family ties. Guebel's remote ancestor is Richard Burton and his Anatomy of Melancholy; his contemporaries, Norman Manea and W.G. Sebald." —Alberto Manguel
Slave Empire: How slavery built modern Britain by Padraic X. Scanlan             $30
The British empire, in sentimental myth, was more free, more just and more fair than its rivals. But this claim that the British empire was 'free' and that, for all its flaws, it promised liberty to all its subjects was never true. The British empire was built on slavery. Slave Empire puts enslaved people at the centre the British empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In intimate, human detail, Padraic Scanlon shows how British imperial power and industrial capitalism were inextricable from plantation slavery. With vivid original research and careful synthesis of innovative historical scholarship, Slave Empire shows that British freedom and British slavery were made together.
"Slave Empire is lucid, elegant and forensic. It deals with appalling horrors in cool and convincing prose." —The Economist
Naming the Beasts by Elizabeth Morton          $25
A menagerie of poems about the gnarlier aspects of being a creature of this world. Within these pages wilderness and suburbia collide. The 'I' in these poems takes many forms: a wolf, a waterbuck, a bird 'stuck circling the carnage'. Whether soaring above or prowling through the neighbourhood, Morton's beasts bear witness to an unremitting vision of pain and ecological damage. As the flames climb higher, the beasts in this collection are left to wander and live out their lives. There is love and loneliness, passivity and rage. Yet there is always hope. Hoof and hide, fang and gut, these images and insights are those of an artist in a war zone intent on chronicling beauty in a world that's falling apart. Morton's poems take a bite out of the world around us, as they explore reality through the vitality and immersiveness of their imaginative powers.
Books Promiscuously Read: Reading as a way of life by Heather Cass White         $35
Heather Cass White's Books Promiscuously Read is about the pleasures of reading and its power in shaping our internal lives. It advocates for a life of constant, disorderly, time-consuming reading, and encourages readers to trust in the value of the exhilaration and fascination such reading entails. Rather than arguing for the moral value of reading or the preeminence of literature as an aesthetic form, Books Promiscuously Read illustrates the irreplaceable experience of the self that reading provides for those inclined to do it. 
"An elegantly constructed meditation on the vital relation between reading and the everyday self, Books Promiscuously Read animates the experience with wit, brilliance, and affection. A pleasure to read and pass on." —Vivian Gornick
The Joy of Science by Jim al-Khalili       $35
In this brief guide to leading a more rational life, acclaimed physicist Jim Al-Khalili invites readers to engage with the world as scientists have been trained to do. The scientific method has served humankind well in its quest to see things as they really are, and underpinning the scientific method are core principles that can help us all navigate modern life more confidently. Discussing the nature of truth and uncertainty, the role of doubt, the pros and cons of simplification, the value of guarding against bias, the importance of evidence-based thinking, and more, Al-Khalili shows how the powerful ideas at the heart of the scientific method are deeply relevant to the complicated times we live in and the difficult choices we make.
Roads to Berlin: Detours and riddles in the lands and history of Germany by Cees Nooteboom              $36
Roads to Berlin maps the changing landscape of Germany, from the period before the fall of the Wall to the present. Written and updated over the course of several decades, an eyewitness account of the pivotal events of 1989 gives way to a perceptive appreciation of its difficult passage to reunification. Nooteboom's writings on politics, people, architecture and culture are as digressive as they are eloquent; his innate curiosity takes him through the landscapes of Heine and Goethe, steeped in Romanticism and mythology, and to Germany's baroque cities. With an outsider's objectivity he has crafted an intimate portrait of the country to its present day.
"He writes in a voice that blends the acuity of Martha Gellhorn with the meditative grace of W.G. Sebald." —Economist
Words Fail Us: In defence of disfluency by Jonty Claypole             $28
In an age of polished TED talks and overconfident political oratory, success seems to depend upon charismatic public speaking. But what if hyper-fluency is not only unachievable but undesirable? Jonty Claypole spent fifteen years of his life in and out of extreme speech therapy. From sessions with child psychologists to lengthy stuttering boot camps and exposure therapies, he tried everything until finally being told the words he'd always feared: 'We can't cure your stutter.' Those words started him on a journey towards not only making peace with his stammer but learning to use it to his advantage. Here, Claypole argues that our obsession with fluency could be hindering, rather than helping, our creativity, authenticity and persuasiveness. Exploring other speech conditions, such as aphasia and Tourette's, and telling the stories of the 'creatively disfluent' — from Lewis Carroll to Kendrick Lamar — Claypole explains why it's time for us to stop making sense, get tongue tied and embrace the life-changing power of inarticulacy.
"Jonty Claypole's book is timely, thoughtful, rich in fact and personal anecdote, and looks to a more enlightened, speech-diverse future.'" —David Mitchell
"Comprehensive, open-minded, thoughtful and wise. A liberating book." —Colm Toibin
The Dawnhounds by Sascha Stronach               $35
A queer, Māori-inspired debut fantasy about a police officer who is murdered, brought back to life with a mysterious new power, and tasked with protecting her city from an insidious evil threatening to destroy it. The port city of Hainak is alive: its buildings, its fashion, even its weapons. But, after a devastating war and a sweeping biotech revolution, all its inhabitants want is peace, no one more so than Yat Jyn-Hok a reformed-thief-turned-cop who patrols the streets at night. Yat has recently been demoted on the force due to "lifestyle choices" after being caught at a gay club. She's barely holding it together, haunted by memories of a lover who vanished and voices that float in and out of her head like radio signals. When she stumbles across a dead body on her patrol, two fellow officers gruesomely murder her and dump her into the harbor. Unfortunately for them, she wakes up. Resurrected by an ancient power, she finds herself with the new ability to manipulate life force. Quickly falling in with the pirate crew who has found her, she must race against time to stop a plague from being unleashed by the evil that has taken root in Hainak.
"A wonderful queer noir fever dream." —Tamsyn Muir
"Fiercely queer. A strange and wondrous re-imagining of noir that takes its cues from biopunk and SE Asian mythos to create something wholly different. There's real imagination at work here—I loved it." —Rebecca Roanhorse
How I Came to Know Fish by Ota Pavel           $35
Fishing with his father and his Uncle Prosek — the two finest fishermen in the world — Ota Pavel as a child took a peaceful pleasure from the rivers and ponds of his Czechoslovakia. But when the Nazis invaded, his father and two older brothers were sent to concentration camps and Pavel had to steal their confiscated fish back from under the noses of the SS to feed his family. With tales of his father's battle to provide for his family both in wealthy freedom and in terrifying persecution, this is one boy's passionate and affecting tale of life, love and fishing.
How Do You Fight a Horse-Sized Duck? And other perplexing puzzles by William Poundstone              $25
Today is Tuesday. What day of the week will it be 10 years from now on this date? How would you empty a plane full of Skittles? How many times would you have to scoop the ocean with a bucket to cause sea levels to drop one foot? You have a broken calculator. The only number key that works is the 0. All the operator keys work. How can you get the number 24? How many dogs have the exact same number of hairs? This book reveals more than 70 outrageously perplexing riddles and puzzles and supplies both answers and general strategy for creative problem-solving.
Nina Simone's Gum by Warren Ellis              $45
In 1999, Nina Simone gave a rare performance as part of Nick Cave's Meltdown Festival. After the show, in a state of awe, Warren Ellis crept onto the stage, took Simone's piece of chewed gum from the piano, wrapped it in her stage towel and put it in a Tower Records bag. The gum remained with him for twenty years: a sacred totem, his creative muse, growing in significance with every passing year. In 2019, Cave, his collaborator and friend. asked Ellis if there was anything he could contribute to display in his Stranger Than Kindness exhibition. Ellis realised the time had come to release the gum. Together they agreed it should be housed in a glass case like a holy relic. Worrying the gum, which had become for him a metaphor for creativity, would be damaged or lost, Ellis decided to first have it cast in silver and gold, sparking a chain of events that no one could have predicted, one that would take him back to his childhood and his relationship to found objects.
"A beautiful, haunting quasi-memoir about the 57-year-old's early life growing up in southeastern Australia and his years spent busking across Europe in the 1980s, as well as one particular, transcendent night that changed the course of his life." —Vanity Fair
The book of the Stranger Than Kindness exhibition. 
Green Kitchen: Quick + Slow by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl      $50
From the QUICK low-effort weekday dinner when you don’t want to spend the whole day in the kitchen but still want to eat something delicious, to the SLOW moments when cooking becomes the best part of the day, these recipes will teach you how to cook great tasting, modern vegetarian food and show you how to find joy in the process.

No comments:

Post a Comment