Friday 27 January 2023


Restless outsider, masher-up of form and convention, Katherine Mansfield's short but dazzling career was characterised by struggle, insecurity and sacrifice, alongside a glorious, relentless creative drive and openness. She was the only writer Virginia Woolf admitted being jealous of, yet by the 1950s was, outside New Zealand, almost forgotten. Now, looking back over the hundred years since her death, it is evident how vital Mansfield was to the Modernist movement and how strikingly relevant she is today, helping us to see differently, to savour and to notice things. In this perceptive study, Claire Harman takes a fresh look at Mansfield's life and achievements side by side, through the form she did so much to revolutionise — the short story. Exploring ten pivotal works, we watch how Mansfield's desire to grow as a writer pushed her art into unknown territory, and how illness sharpened her extraordinary vitality. 
"All Sorts of Lives is a beautiful, fastidiously researched and fascinating exploration of Mansfield's life and work. This is great as an introduction to an unjustly neglected author and a joy for those of us who already love her writing." —A.L. Kennedy

Aorere Gold: The history of the Golden Bay goldfields, 1856—1863 by Mike Johnston             $100
Much anticipated and overwhelmingly good, Johnston's unsurpassable history fills a gap not only in the history of goldmining in Aotearoa but in the social history of Golden Bay. Full of meticulously researched detail (both historical and geological) but never losing sight of the overall picture, this well-illustrated 480-page book gives the best possible idea of the Aorere goldrush, which drew gold-seekers from the previous rushes in California and Victoria, local settlers and Māori, and from further afield, and served as a de facto first act to the rushes in Otago and the West Coast that followed. 

A Writer's Diary by Toby Litt             $38
At first, A Writer's Diary appears to be exactly what it claims to be. It is a daily summary of the events in a person called Toby Litt's life: his thoughts on creating literature, his concerns for his family and the people he teaches, his musings on the various things that catch his attention around his desk and his immediate surroundings. But as it progresses, questions start to arise. Is this fact? Or is it fiction? (And if it's both, which is which?) Is this a book about quotidian daily routines - one person's days as they unspool — or is something more going on? Is there something even larger taking shape? And so, seemingly by magic, an increasingly urgent narrative starts to build — and A Writer's Diary becomes  a compulsive page-turner, full of stories, full of characters we have grown to love – and full of questions we need answered. Will Toby find the perfect pencil sharpener? Will everyone he loves make it through the year? And will he be the same person at the end of it?
Fierce Hope: Youth activism in Aotearoa by Karen Nairn, Judith Siglo, Carisa R. Showden, Kyle R. Matthews, and Joanna Kidman      $40
Youth activism has been a defining feature of Aotearoa's recent political landscape. Amidst these unsettling political times haunted by climate change, colonisation, ongoing inequality and the upheaval of the pandemic, the political actions of young New Zealanders are a source of inspiration, challenge and renewal. Fierce Hope opens the doors on six influential activist groups: ActionStation, Generation Zero (Auckland), InsideOUT, JustSpeak, Protect Ihumatao, and Thursdays in Black (Auckland). Participants from these groups, through interviews, explain vividly what future they want for our country and how we can get there. They address an array of urgent issues, from indigenous rights to the justice system and imprisonment; from climate change to gender and sexual inequalities. In their voices we hear hope, anger, despair and anxiety - emotions which inform and galvanise activism. A connecting thread is how people within these different groups collectively negotiate their visions and strategies to achieve change. Their stories provide important insights into the immense demands of activism and help inform radical new ways of living and being together in Aotearoa.
"My generation has seen the stories of Parihaka and Bastion Point, and has witnessed women’s movements, and has seen Donald Trump get elected and has seen Christchurch terrorism – you know, all of these things, we’ve seen them, plus we have a Western education. Most of us have gone to university and we’re [also] entrenched in our tikanga; we’ve got all of these things that then make us, the people, to go "No!"' – Qiane Matata-Sipu, Protect Ihumātao
Slime: A natural history by Susanne Wedlich               $25
Slime is an ambiguous thing. It exists somewhere between a solid and liquid. It inspires revulsion even while it compels our fascination. It is a both a vehicle for pathogens and the strongest weapon in our immune system. Most of us know little about it and yet it is the substance on which our world turns. Slime exists at the interfaces of all things: between the different organs and layers in our bodies, and between the earth, water, and air in the environment. It is often produced in the fatal encounter between predator and prey, and it is a vital presence in the reproductive embrace between female and male. In this ground-breaking and fascinating book, Susanne Wedlich leads us on a scientific journey through the 3 billion year history of slime, from the part it played in the evolution of life on this planet to the way it might feature in the post-human future. She also explores the cultural and emotional significance of slime, from its starring role in the horror genre to its subtle influence on Art Nouveau. Slime is what connects Patricia Highsmith's fondness for snails, John Steinbeck's aversion to hagfish, and Emperor Hirohito's passion for jellyfish, as well as the curious mating practices of underwater gastropods and the miraculous functioning of the human gut. Written with authority, wit and eloquence, Slime brings this most nebulous and neglected of substances to life.
You Don't Know What War Is: The diary of a young girl from Ukraine by Yeva Skalietska          $28
Everyone knows the word "war". But very few understand what it truly means - when you find you have to face it, you feel totally lost, walled in by fright and despair. All of your plans are suddenly interrupted — Until you've been there, you don't know what war is. This is the diary of young Ukrainian refugee Yeva Skalietska. It follows twelve days in Ukraine that changed 12-year-old Yeva's life forever. She was woken in the early hours to the terrifying sounds of shelling. Russia had invaded Ukraine, and her beloved Kharkiv home was no longer the safe haven it should have been. It was while she and her Granny were forced to seek shelter in a damp, cramped basement that Yeva decided to write down her story. 
Where Is Everybody? by Remy Charlip            $33
Charlip's deceptively simple illustrations (the first page is blank, bearing only the words 'Here is an empty sky'), slowly building a scene piece by piece, and eventually, a surreal narrative sure to delight readers and expand children's ideas of what a picture book can be.

Cwen by Alice Albinia          $23
On an unnamed archipelago off the east coast of Britain, the impossible has come to pass. Women control the civic institutions. Decide how the islands' money is spent. Run the businesses. Tend to their families. Teach the children hope for a better world. They say that this gynotopia is Eva Levi's life's work, and that now she has disappeared, it will be destroyed. But they don't know about Cwen. Cwen has been here longer than the civilisation she has returned to haunt. The clouds are her children, and the waves. Her name has ancient roots, reaching down into the earth and halfway around the world. The islands she inhabits have always belonged to women. And she will do anything she can to protect them. Now in paperback.
"A clever, strange and wonderful book, which brims with mystery. A group of women recount their past and present stories, revealing their visions of the future." —Xiaolu Guo
"A wild, original, sure-footed feminist reimagining of the present and the past that brushes up against the mythical. Beautiful work." —Neel Mukherjee

Nine Musings on Time: Science fiction, science fact, and the truth about time travel by John Gribbin               $28
Surprisingly, time travel is not forbidden by the laws of physics -— Gribbin argues that if it is not impossible then it must be possible. Gribbin illustrates the possibilities of time travel by comparing familiar themes from science fiction with their real-world scientific counterparts, including Einstein's theories of relativity, black holes, quantum physics, and the multiverse, illuminated by examples from the fictional tales of Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven, Carl Sagan and others. The result is an entertaining guide to some deep mysteries of the Universe which may leave you wondering whether time actually passes at all, and if it does, whether we are moving forwards or backwards.
Architecture: From prehistory to climate emergency by Barnabas Calder            $26
A groundbreaking history of architecture told through the relationship between buildings and energy. Reducing energy use is the single biggest challenge facing architecture today. From the humblest prehistoric hut to the imposing monuments of Rome or Egypt to super-connected modern airports, buildings in every era and place have been shaped by the energy available for their construction and running. This compelling survey tells the story of our buildings from our hunter-gatherer origins to the age of fossil-fuel dependence, and shows how architecture has been influenced by designers, builders and societies adapting to changing energy contexts.
A History of Delusions: The glass king, a substitute husband, and a walking corpse by Victoria Shepherd            $43
King Charles VI of France — thinking he was made of glass — was terrified he might shatter. After the Emperor met his end at Waterloo, an epidemic of Napoleons piled into France's asylums. Throughout the nineteenth century, dozens of middle-aged women tried to convince their physicians that they were, in fact, dead. For centuries we've dismissed delusions as something for doctors to sort out behind locked doors. But delusions are more than just bizarre quirks — they hold the key to collective anxieties and traumas.
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe and Salva Rubio (translated by Lilit Žekulin Thwaites), drawn by Loreto Aroca             $35
The graphic novel version of Iturbe's account of the true story of fourteen-year-old Dita, one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the 'living books' — prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be 'borrowed' to educate the children in the camp. But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children's block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor

The Book of Feeling Blue: Understand and manage depression by Gwendoline Smith          $28
How do you know if you're just feeling a bit sad or if you are depressed? What level of sadness is 'normal'? How do you work out what's going on when you feel down? What kinds of treatment are available? How do you help a family member or friend who is depressed? Psychologist Gwendoline Smith answers these questions and many more. In addition she specifically explains post-natal blues and depression; depression in children, teens and older people; depression in relation to gender and sexuality; and Covid blues.
Joan Didion: The Last Interview, And other conversations by Joan Didion with Sheila Heti, Hilton Als, Hari Kunzru, Dave Eggers et al            $37
Didion rose to prominence with her nonfiction collection, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and she quickly became the writer who captured the zeitgeist of the washed-out, acid hangover of the 60s.  But as a bicoastal writer of fiction and nonfiction whose writing ranged from personal essays and raw, intimate memoirs to reportage on international affairs and social justice, Didion is much harder to pin down than her reputation might suggest. This collection encompasses it all, in conversations that delve into her underappreciated mid-career works, her influences, the loss of her husband and daughter, and her most infamous essays.

Around the World in 80 Books by David Damrosch             $30
Inspired by Jules Verne's hero Phileas Fogg, David Damrosch, chair of Harvard's department of Comparative Literature and founder of Harvard's Institute for World Literature, set out to counter a pandemic's restrictions on travel by exploring eighty exceptional books from around the globe. Following a literary itinerary from London to Venice, Tehran, and points beyond, and via authors from Woolf and Dante to Nobel prizewinners Orhan Pamuk, Wole Soyinka, Mo Yan, and Olga Tokarczuk, he explores how these works have shaped our idea of the world, and the ways the world bleeds into literature. To chart the expansive landscape of world literature today, Damrosch explores how writers live in two very different worlds- the world of their personal experience, and the world of books that have enabled writers to give shape and meaning to their lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment