Friday 9 December 2022


Saint Sebastian's Abyss by Mark Haber               $35
Former best friends who built their careers writing about a single work of art meet after a decades-long falling-out. One of them, called to the other's deathbed for unknown reasons by a 'relatively short' nine-page email, spends his flight to Berlin reflecting on Dutch Renaissance painter Count Hugo Beckenbauer and his masterpiece, Saint Sebastian's Abyss, the work that established both men as important art critics and also destroyed their relationship. A darkly comic meditation on art, obsession, and the enigmatic power of friendship, Saint Sebastian's Abyss stalks the museum halls of Europe, feverishly seeking salvation, annihilation, and the meaning of belief.
"In sinuous, recursive sentences infused with equal parts reverence and venom, Haber constructs a darkly parodic portrait of aesthetic devotion and intellectual friendship, in which the redemptive practice of collaborative interpretation becomes a cage that two egos relentlessly rattle." —Nathan Goldman, Jewish Currents
"A delightful and dizzying excursion into the relationship between art and criticism, and all the ways that we often deceive ourselves about the things and people we love. Concise and deftly rendered, it moves forward like a rocket-or more accurately, like the transatlantic flight his unnamed American narrator takes to visit his friend and nemesis Schmidt in Berlin. In each of their lives, the painting has become a kind of mirror, reflecting their ideas and their assertions back upon themselves." —David L. Ulin, Alta Journal
"A brilliantly sustained performance: clever, droll and entrancing. Mark Haber creates something entirely new, and greatly impressive, within the Bernhardian universe." —Chloe Aridjis
Landfall 244: Aotearoa New Zealand arts and letters edited by Linley Edmeades          $30
Poetry: Rebecca Ball, Victor Billot, Peter Bland, Cindy Botha, Liz Breslin, Diana Bridge, Rachel Connor, John Dennison, Erin Donohue, David Eggleton, Jan FitzGerald, Miriama Gemmell, Michael Hall, Ruth Hanover, Claudia Jardine, Tim Jones, Erik Kennedy, Lyndsey Knight, Claire Lacey, Jessica Le Bas, Michele Leggott, Mary Macpherson, Cilla McQueen, Anuja Mitra, Margaret Moores, Janet Newman, Mikaela Nyman, Claire Orchard, Richard Reeve, Madeline Reid, Harry Ricketts, Ruth Russ, Harriet Salmon, Elizabeth Smither, Yvette Thomas, Tim Upperton, Sophia Wilson.
Fiction: Lucinda Birch, Joanna Cho, Jana Grohnert, Kirsty Gunn, Isabel Haarhaus, Jonathan Mahon-Heap, Frankie McMillan, Zoë Meager, S. A. Muse, Gerard O’Brien, Rebecca Reader, Angela Trolove.
Non-fiction: Tina Makereti, Jess Richards, Maggie Sturgess.
Art: Neil Pardington, Madison Kelly, Sam Kelly.
Review: Airini Beautrais, Kate Duignan, Emma Gattey, Lawrence Patchett, Laura Toailoa.
>>The winner of the 2022 Landfall Essay Competition
The Book of Dirt: A smelly history of dirt, disease and human hygiene by Monika Utnik-Strugala, Piotr Socha     $55
Millions of people on Earth start their day the same way: we get out of bed, go to the toilet and wash ourselves. But this hasn't always been the standard routine. Ancient Greeks and Romans were happy to splash about in public baths, but by the time the plague struck 14th-century Europe, many people believed that water spread diseases. It was not until the 18th century that Louis Pasteur proved that dangerous germs actually lurk in dirt. Even when hygienic habits began to be taught in schools, lessons were limited to washing faces and hands, because those were the parts that everyone could see. Dive deep into the history and science of dirt, discovering how people around the world (and out in space!) keep themselves and their surroundings free from filth, how our ideas of what's clean and what's not have changed and developed over the centuries, and why a little dirt can sometimes be a good thing.
This Place / That Place by Nandita Dinesh              $37
In a nameless country under military occupation, two friends prepare to attend a wedding. The young man is from the occupied region ('This Place'), the woman is from the occupying nation-state ('That Place'). The complicated relationship between these two protagonists with unusual professions--he is a Protest Designer and she is a De-programmer--is tested when, on the eve of the wedding, the occupying power, That Place, formally annexes This Place and declares a curfew. Suddenly finding themselves confined to the same isolated space, the young woman and man try to kill time but inevitably wind up talking about the ways in which the war between their homelands pervades the unexplored and undeniable attraction between them. Will their relationship become another casualty of war?
Nevada by Imogen Binnie              $25
Maria, a trans woman in her thirties, is going nowhere. She spends her aimless days working in a New York bookstore, trying to remain true to a punk ethos while drinking herself into a stupor and having a variety of listless and confusing sexual encounters. After her girlfriend cheats on her, Maria steals her car and heads for the Pacific, embarking on her version of the Great American Road Trip. Along the way she stops in Reno, Nevada, and meets James, a young man who works in the local Wal-Mart. Maria recognizes elements of her younger self in James and the pair quickly form an unlikely but powerful connection, one that will have big implications for them both. This hilarious, groundbreaking cult classic inspired a whole literary movement, and is now available outside the US for the first time.
"I've told people that Nevada is the On the Road of trans literature, but that's glib and unfair to Imogen Binnie, who is a lot smarter than Jack Kerouac. Nevada crept in under cover of night in 2013 and assumed its position as a classic while everyone's attention was elsewhere." —Lucy Sante
Why Climate Breakdown Matters by Rupert Read              $44
Climate change and the destruction of the earth is the most urgent issue of our time. We are hurtling towards the end of civilisation as we know it. Rupert Read asks us to face up to the fate of the planet. This is a book for anyone who wants their philosophy to deal with reality and their climate concern to be more than a displacement activity. As people come together to mourn the loss of the planet, we have the opportunity to create a grounded, hopeful response. This meaningful hopefulness looks to the new communities created around climate activism. Together, our collective mourning enables us to become human in ways previously unknown.

The Making of the Modern Middle East by Jeremy Bowen       $40
Bowen takes us on a journey across the Middle East and through its history. He meets ordinary men and women on the front line, their leaders, whether brutal or benign, and he explores the power games that have so often wreaked devastation on civilian populations as those leaders, whatever their motives, jostle for political, religious and economic control. With his deep understanding of the political, cultural and religious differences between countries as diverse as Erdogan’s Turkey, Assad’s Syria and Netanyahu’s Israel and his long experience of covering events in the region, Bowen offers readers a gripping and invaluable guide to the modern Middle East, how it came to be and what its future might hold.
The Blue Commons: Rescuing the economy of the sea by Guy Standing          $50
The sea provides more than half the oxygen we breathe, food for billions of people and livelihoods for hundreds of millions. But giant corporations are plundering the world's oceans, aided by global finance and complicit states, following the neoliberal maxim of Blue Growth. The situation is dire: rampant exploitation and corruption now drive all aspects of the ocean economy, destroying communities, intensifying inequalities, and driving fish populations and other ocean life towards extinction. The Blue Commons is an urgent call for change, from a campaigning economist responsible for some of the most innovative solutions to inequality of recent times.
"In this landmark book, Guy Standing not only documents how state-corporate collusion is destroying fragile ocean ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities. He explains how degrowth economics and fishery commons could restore the 'Blue Commons-Wealth' that belongs to all of us. The Blue Commons is at once a brilliant synthesis, a searing analysis, and an inspiring call to action." —David Bollier
Class: A graphic guide by Laura Harvey, Sarah Leaney and Danny Noble             $33
What can class tell us about gentrification, precarious work, the role of elites in society, or access to education? How have thinkers explored class in the past, and how does it affect us today? How does class inform activism and change? Class: A Graphic Guide challenges simplistic and stigmatising ideas about working-class people, discusses colonialist roots of class systems, and looks at how class intersects with race, sexuality, gender, disability and age.
The Best of E-Tangata, Volume two edited by Tapu Misa and  Gary Wilson          $18
A thought-provoking set of Maori, Pasifika, and tangata Tiriti writers combine in this celebration of some of the best writing from E-Tangata. Traverse a landscape of contemporary and historical issues through the lens of a mother's loss, a man's hard-won expertise, a homesick student abroad and with the knowledge that all good things begin with ten guitars. These writings exemplify that grief and hope go hand-in-hand in the pursuit of justice and the reclaiming of identities in Aotearoa and the Pacific. Contributors Becky Manawatu, Maui Solomon, Max Harris, Andrew Robb, Joanna Kidman, Joe Williams, Moana Maniapoto, Kingi Snelgar, Emmaline Pickering-Martin, Moana Jackson, Rangi Matamua, Dale Husband, Patrick Thomsen, Shelley Burne-Field, Tainui Stephens, Connie Buchanan, Simone Kaho, and Christine Ammunson.
Tiaki: A shout-out to Aotearoa's lesser-known creatures by  Jean Donaldson          $30
This book is about the weird and wonderful endangered species in Aotearoa, those lesser-known creatures that don't regularly make the news. But they are just as important as the 'stars' like kakapo and kiwi, for they are the foundation of our unique biodiversity. Tiaki includes such exotic animals as the Smeagol gravel maggot, a sea slug found on the south coast of Wellington; the moko kakariki, a gecko with a bright blue mouth; the kowaro/Canterbury mudfish, which can survive out of water for up to several months; and the tiny, critically endangered pekapeka-tou-roa/long-tailed bat.
Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A history of food, from sustainable to suicidal by Mark Bittman           $37
The story of humankind is usually told as one of technological innovation and economic influence, arrowheads and atomic bombs, settlers and stock markets. But behind it all, there is an even more fundamental driver: food. In Animal, Vegetable, Junk, trusted food authority Mark Bittman offers a panoramic view of how the frenzy for food has driven human history to some of its most catastrophic moments-from slavery and colonialism to famine and genocide-and to our current moment, wherein Big Food exacerbates climate change, plunders our planet, and sickens its people. Even so, Bittman refuses to concede that the battle is lost, pointing to activists, workers, and governments around the world who are choosing well-being over corporate greed and gluttony and fighting to free society from Big Food's grip. Sweeping, impassioned, and ultimately full of hope, Animal, Vegetable, Junk reveals not only how food has shaped our past, but also how we can transform it to reclaim our future. 
Encountering China: New Zealanders and the People's Republic edited by Duncan Campbell and Brian Moloughney             $40
In this collection of 50 texts, which range from essays to poems, a wide range of authors, from diplomats and students to politicians, academics and businesspeople, reflect on their experiences of and in China over the last half century. 
The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera            $19
Petra Pena wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita. But Petra's world is ending. Earth will soon be destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children — among them Petra and her family — have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race. Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet — and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity's past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard — or purged them altogether. Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again? A multi-award winning and bestselling novel, blending science fiction and Mexican folklore to explore the power of storytelling.
"Gripping in its twists and turns, and moving in its themes — truly a beautiful cuento." —New York Times
The Little Captain by Paul Biegel            $17
One morning, after a fierce storm, the people of the harbour come down to find a strange ship called the Neversink stuck fast on top of the sand dunes. Inside is only a small boy with a big cap - The Little Captain. He and his ship stay marooned on top of the dunes until one day a giant wave sweeps the Neversink to freedom. And so The Little Captain sets sail once more, this time with three of the town's children, Podgy, Marinka and Thomas, as his crew mates. Together they are determined to find the island of Evertaller, where legend has it children turn into grown-ups overnight and never have to go to school again.

Notes from a Small Kitchen Island by Debora Robertson               $55
Robertson introduces us to the recipes that made her, as much as she made them. From feasts in her French holiday cottage to the Turkish-inspired weeknight dinners created with ingredients from her local Hackney high street, her recipes encapsulate the comfort to be found in the everyday. 
Always Going Home: Lauris and Frances Edmond, A mother-and-daughter story by Frances Edmond              $40
Writing from memory, family recollections, and the goldmine of poet Lauris Edmond's correspondence and diaries, Frances Edmond details how her life intersected with, and often diverged from, her mothers. As creative collaborator, sole literary executor, and a frequent sounding board and confidante, Frances was privy to details known to very few. She learned about the wounds her mother carried and her inability to manage, or influence, the shifting tides of grief and resentment within their family.  

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