Friday 10 March 2023


We will be giving away a copy of the remarkable Renters United! / Lawrence & Gibson Publishing tabloid-format! illustrated! edition of Murdoch Stephens's biting and hilarious RAT KING LANDLORD with every book order we dispatch (until supplies are exhausted). And if you order a Lawrence & Gibson book we will put in a bonus copy!
>>Read Stella's review of RKL
>>Books from L&G.

Affinities by Brian Dillon             $40
What do we mean when we claim affinity with an object or picture, or say affinities exist between such things? Affinities is a critical and personal study of a sensation that is not exactly taste, desire, or allyship, but has aspects of all. Approaching this subject via discrete examples, this book is first of all about images that have stayed with the author over many years, or grown in significance during months of pandemic isolation, when the visual field had shrunk. Some are historical works by artists such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Dora Maar, Claude Cahun, Samuel Beckett and Andy Warhol. Others are scientific or vernacular images: sea creatures, migraine auras, astronomical illustrations derived from dreams. Also family photographs, film stills, records of atomic ruin. And contemporary art by Rinko Kawauchi, Susan Hiller and John Stezaker. Written as a series of linked essays, interwoven with a reflection on affinity itself, Affinities is an extraordinary book about the intimate and abstract pleasures of reading and looking.
"This is a deeply personal enterprise but Dillon goes to great lengths to keep at a distance. The collection may amount to a sort-of autobiography but each essay is about the life of the artist or the work itself, not about him. He is careful of his subjects and scrupulous in neither over-interpreting them nor projecting his emotions on to them. Nevertheless, each means something profound to him and each is a pixel that builds into a creative work of his own: a picture of his own aesthetic and the constituent parts of its canon." —Michael Prodger, New Statesman
The Rest Is Slander: Five stories by Thomas Bernhard (translated by Douglas Robertson)           $40
"The cold increases with the clarity," said Thomas Bernhard while accepting a major literary prize in 1965. That clarity was the postwar realisation that the West's last remaining cultural reference points were being swept away by the ever-greater commodification of humankind. Collecting five stylistically transitional tales by Bernhard, all of which take place in sites of extreme cold, this volume extends his bleak vision.
In 'Ungenach', the reluctant heir of an enormous estate chooses to give away his legacy to an assortment of oddballs as he discovers the past of his older brother, who was murdered during a career in futile colonialist philanthropy. In 'The Weatherproof Cape', a lawyer tries to maintain a sense of familial solidarity with a now-dead client with the help of an unremarkable piece of clothing. 'Midland in Stilfs' casts a jaundiced eye on the laughable efforts of a cosmopolitan foreigner to attain local authenticity on a moribund Alpine farmstead. In 'At the Ortler', two middle-aged brothers—one a scientist, the other an acrobat—meditate on their unusual career paths while they climb a mountain to reclaim a long-abandoned family property. And in 'At the Timberline', the unexpected arrival of a young couple in a mountain village leads to the discovery of a scandalous crime that casts a shadow on the personal life of the policeman investigating it.
Ten Planets by Yuri Herrera (translated by Lisa Dillman)          $34
The characters that populate Yuri Herrera's remarkable collection of stories inhabit imagined futures that reveal the strangeness and instability of the present. Drawing on science fiction, noir, and the philosophical parables of Borges's Fictions and Calvino's Cosmicomics, these very short stories signal a new dimension in the work of this significant writer. In Ten Planets, objects can be sentient and might rebel against the unhappy human family to which they are attached. A detective of sorts finds clues to buried secrets by studying the noses of his clients, which he insists are covert maps. A meagre bacterium in a human intestine gains consciousness when a psychotropic drug is ingested. Monsters and aliens abound, but in the fiction of Herrera, knowing who is the monster and who the alien is a tricky proposition. This collection of stories, which ranges from philosophical flights of fancy to the gritty detective story continues to develop Herrera's exploration of the mutability of borders, the wounds and legacy of colonial violence, and a deep love of storytelling in all its forms.
Owlish by Dorothy Tse (translated by Natascha Bruce)            $40
In the mountainous city of Nevers, there lives a professor of literature called Q. He has a dull marriage and a lacklustre career, but also a scrumptious collection of antique dolls locked away in his cupboard. And soon Q lands his crowning acquisition: a music box ballerina named Aliss who tantalizingly springs to life. Guided by his mysterious friend Owlish and inspired by an inexplicably familiar painting, Q embarks on an all-consuming love affair with Aliss, oblivious to the sinister forces encroaching on his city and the protests spreading across the university that have left his classrooms all but empty. Thrumming with secrets and shape-shifting geographies, Dorothy Tse’s extraordinary novel is a boldly inventive exploration of life under repressive conditions.
"Beguilingly eerie, richly textured, the pages of Owlish are drenched in strange beauty and menace. Like all the best fairy tales, it reveals the dark truths that we would rather not look at directly, and does so with a surreal and singular clarity." —Sophie Mackintosh
Ruin, And other stories by Emma Hislop          $30
Women and girls walk a perilously thin line between ruin and redemption in these stories as they try-with varying degrees of success-to outmanouver the violence that threatens to define their lives.There's the physical violence of men against their bodies—and sometimes the violence they exact in revenge. While doubts about a romantic partner, an abandonment by a sister, the fallout of a parent's pornography addiction, the betrayal of a friend, even the desire to touch a stranger's fur-like body are subtler aggressions that pack their own kinds of punches. Moving between contemporary New Zealand and London, and a dreamlike landscape that isn't quite real, this debut collection shimmers with a brutal kind of hope, exploring power and its contortions, powerlessness and its depravities, and the ends to which we will go to claim back agency.
Still Life by Zoë Wicomb            $36
Juggling with our perception of time and reality, Still Life tells the story of an author struggling to write a biography of long-forgotten Scottish poet and abolitionist Thomas Pringle. A multitude of voices across time, place and the lines of fiction and history—from the spectre of Mary Prince to Virginia Woolf's own Sir Nicholas Green—vie for the reader's attention. Their adventures through time and space, from Victorian South Africa and London to the author's desk in Glasgow in the present day, offer a poignant exploration of colonial history and racial oppression.
"An intriguingly metatextual novel that addresses some of the silences and omissions of South African history, and the broader relationship of historiography, reputation, writing and memory to power.” —Simon Lewis, The Post and Courier
For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain by Victoria MacKintosh          $33
A meeting of mystics. In the year of 1413, two women meet for the first time in the city of Norwich. Margery Kempe has left her fourteen children and husband behind to make her journey. Her visions of Christ which have long alienated her from her family and neighbours, and incurred her husband's abuse  and have placed her in danger with the men of the Church, who have begun to hound her as a heretic. Julian, an anchoress, has not left Norwich, nor the cell to which she has been confined, for twenty-three years. She has told no one of her own visions and knows that time is running out for her to do so.The two women have stories to tell one another. Stories about girlhood, motherhood, sickness, loss, doubt and belief; revelations more the powerful than the world is ready to hear. 
Two Sherpas by Sebastián Martínez Daniell (translated by Jennifer Croft)            $38
A British climber has fallen from a cliffside in Nepal, and lies inert on a ledge below. Two sherpas kneel at the edge, stand, exchange the odd word, waiting for him to move, to make a decision, to descend. In those minutes, the world opens up to Kathmandu, a sun-bleached beach town on another continent, and the pages of Julius Caesar. Mountaineering, colonialism, obligation—in Sebastián Martínez Daniell's prose each breath is crystalline, and the whole world is visible from here.
>>The author's voice
A Case with a Bang ('Detective Gordon #5) by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee          $20
Inspector Gordon and Detective Buffy are back (and not just for the cake) in the final story in this fun and funny series for young readers. Night brings a horrible humming, scraping sound in the forest. Someone has wrecked the badger’s trash can. Later, three large creatures are spotted up on the mountain. Detective Buffy discovers this seemingly small case really is a dangerous mystery—she comes back from her first investigation flat as a gingerbread, rolled over by something huge and terrifying. Back at the station, retired Detective Gordon is training a new young police assistant, and the cakes have run out in the forest bakery! While all the animals cower at the police station, Buffy remembers Gordon’s stories about trolls. Is it possible they do exist? Taking Gordon’s advice about how everyone thinks differently, she finds a way to communicate with the giant creatures—perhaps not so terrifying after all. The book leaves readers with a memorable Gordon message: Everyone thinks differently, strangers are welcome, cakes for everybody! 
The Drinking Game by Guyon Espiner            $37
Four years ago, investigative journalist Guyon Espiner gave up drinking alcohol. He had been a heavy yet controlled drinker since his teens — abstaining three nights a week but making up for it the other four. One morning he woke up after a big night and decided he'd had enough and he quit — no AA, no support groups. Not drinking has given Guyon a new perspective on our relationship with alcohol in Aotearoa, and a lot of it is disturbing. The Drinking Game investigates the alcohol industry: the power, politics and lobbying behind our most harmful drug. Weaving together personal experience, hard research and interviews, it examines why New Zealand has such a heavy drinking culture, the harm it causes and how our attitudes to alcohol are changing. This is a sobering look into how the way you drink is shaped not only by your individual choice, but also by government, media and big business.
>>Alcohol and identity. 
Catfish Rolling by Clara Kumagai          $20
Sora hates the catfish whose rolling caused an earthquake so powerful it cracked time itself. It destroyed her home and took her mother. Now Sora and her scientist father live close to the zones the wild and abandoned places where time runs faster or slower than normal. Sora is sensitive to these shifts, and her father recruits her help in exploring these liminal spaces.But it's dangerous there and as she strays further inside in search of her mother, she finds that time distorts, memories fracture and shadows, a glimmer of things not entirely human, linger. 
After Sora's father goes missing, she has no choice but to venture into uncharted spaces within the time zones to find him, her mother and perhaps even the catfish itself.
Old God's Time by Sebastian Barry            $37
Retired policeman Tom Kettle is enjoying the quiet of his new home, a lean-to annexed to a white Victorian Castle in Dalkey overlooking the sea. For months he has barely seen a soul, but his peace is interrupted when two former colleagues turn up at his door to ask questions about a decades-old case. A traumatic case which Tom never quite came to terms with. His peace is further disturbed by a young mother and family who move in next door, a woman on the run from her own troubles. And what of Tom's family, his wife June and their two children?
"Sebastian Barry faces down the most challenging of subjects with an unflinching pen, using blood for ink. Yet at its heart, Old God's Time is also a love story, of two souls bonded by trauma. Narrated by a retired guard who begins to lose control of his fragile senses as his past clashes with the present, it is shocking, stunning and extraordinarily brave. Barry has once again written a character for the ages." —Liz Nugent

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