14/07/2018 07:34 PM

What have we been reading?
What books have arrived at VOLUME this week?
What have we got planned for National Poetry Day?
Find out in our latest NEWSLETTER.

14/07/2018 07:18 PM

Petite Fleur by Iosi Havilio  {Reviewed by STELLA}
When José’s job goes up in flames, literally, at the fireworks factory, he is at a loss. In a funk, he suddenly finds himself without purpose or motivation. His wife Laura suggests that she goes back to work at the publishing company and leave him to care for their young daughter and home. At first, José feels undermined by his new status, but he quickly falls into the swing of his new role as a domestic star - setting himself cleaning goals and garden projects. As he flourishes, Laura, forced into a more minor role at the publishing company, becomes increasingly embittered and trapped in her job, and this is only further aggravated by Antonia’s increasing rejection of her mother as their daughter gravitates towards José as the primary caregiver. One of the garden projects requires a spade, something that the couple do not possess. One evening, invigorated by his new passions, José knocks on Guillermo’s (the neighbour's) door to borrow a spade. Invited in, a friendship strikes up between the two, and they start to spend Thursday evenings together, drinking and listening to jazz. Guillermo is a jazz obsessive and, as the evening goes on and the drinks go down, he becomes excitable and increasingly animated until José draws the night to a close, often abruptly, with his new found ‘talent’ - a talent so utterly surprising to the reader the first time it happens you will wonder what you have stepped into. Iosi Havilio’s Petite Fleur (named for a jazz piece which is Guillermo’s favourite - he has 125 different recordings) is a lively, macabre and sharply witty portrayal of domestic suburbia, both its bliss and its terrible suffocation. José is a study in paranoia, perfection and obsession - along with odd lapses into clumsiness and childish impulses. As a reader, you will wonder how reliable our narrator is. His clichéd love of Russian literature (Tolstoy), his unwise erotic fantasies and his seeming unconcern for others make José an intriguing character - one whom you want to follow, even when he is repellent. His talent, violent and guiltless, will leave you reeling beyond the last sentence.  

14/07/2018 07:17 PM

Playthings by Alex Pheby  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
Freud’s consideration of the case of the judge Paul Schreber, and his book Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (1903) was instrumental in the formulation of the modern construct of paranoid schizophrenia, and Schreber’s experience, treatment and interpretation have been rigorously exploredand debated by Deleuze, Guatarri, Canetti, Lacan, Calasso and others. Playthings, a novel by Alex Pheby, depicts, sometimes horrifically, sometimes with humour or beauty, sometimes ironically, Schreber’s descent into and experience of madness: his inability to achieve the culturally determined overarching perspective that enables us to function without being overwhelmed by minor details, observations and experiences (of course, none of us do this especially well; our ability to ‘function’ determines which side of the line of ‘madness’ we exist on); his inability to integrate his experiences into ‘useful’ concepts of time and causality; his inability to see others as persons or to interpret their intentions and actions in ways that fit with shared concepts of the patterns of intentions and actions; and his projection of suppressed psychological material onto such others (this dehumanisation of those seen as ‘other’ is a manifestation of the mechanisms by which socially inter-confirmed mass paranoia presented itself as fascism in Germany a few decades later). “It was nothing to him, because they were all nothing. Fleeting-improvised-wretched-plaything-human-beings. Puppets, soul-less automata, clicking and whirring and chirruping to each other on a flat street of false houses and dust blown by the perishing cold wind.” As Pheby zooms in and away from Schreber’s experience, playing always with the perspective that lies at the core of his illness, leaving us uncertain which side of the line between madness and sanity we are experiencing or what constitutes ‘reality’, we as readers become aware of ourselves as the author’s plaything. The key mechanisms of schizophrenia are the key mechanisms of literature; it is only our ability to close the book that keeps us sane.

>>Pheby's new novel, Lucia, treating the erasures and lacunae in the story of James Joyce's daughter Lucia, who was confined to an asylum for the last thirty years of her life, has just arrived at VOLUME. I am looking forward to reading this.

14/07/2018 07:14 PM

National Poetry Day will be celebrated throughout the country on Friday 24 August. We will be marking the occasion with a poetry competition, an interactive poetry map and a live poetry swap in the shop: 

The Great New Zealand Prose Deletion.
1. Choose one page of New Zealand published prose.
2.  Make 2 copies of the page.
3.  On one copy, delete (perhaps using a marker pen) or erase (perhaps using white-out) everything you don’t want in your poem.
4.  Your poem is what remains.
5.  Send us both copies by 20 August. 
The winner will be announced at VOLUME at 2 PM on National Poetry Day (24 August) and will receive a trophy and a copy of the 2018 Poetry New Zealand Yearbook. >> Download a poster

The Nelson Poetry Map records and shares connections between poetry and places. Contribute poems to our open-access map, tagged to the locations you associate with those poems. Visit the locations and read the poems on your mobile device (or to take a virtual tour without leaving home). It is anticipated that wandering poetry readers on National Poetry Day (24 August) will encounter fellow poetry readers at various locations. >> Click here to read or contribute. >> Download a poster.

The Poem Swap. VOLUME. Friday 24 August, 2 PM.
Bring a poem > Put your poem in the hat > Draw out a poem > Read the poem aloud > Take the poem home! 

14/07/2018 12:55 PM

Kamila Shamsie's powerful and affecting novel Home Fire is our Book of the Week this week. The book concerns the fates of young Muslims in the West, and is full of insight, fury and compassion.

>> Read Stella's review

>> On adapting Antigone and googling while Muslim

>> Writing and radicalisation

>> Shamsie in Paris

>> Home Fire has just been awarded the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction

>> The 'story of our times'

>> The book is a politically and emotionally astute modern version of Antigone

13/07/2018 04:36 PM


Your lucky day.
Crudo by Olivia Laing             $35
Crudo charts in real time what it was like to live and love in the horrifying summer of 2017, from the perspective of a commitment-phobic peripatetic artist who may or may not be Kathy Acker. From a Tuscan hotel for the super-rich to a Brexit-paralysed UK, Kathy spends the first summer of her forties trying to adjust to marriage as Trump tweets the world into nuclear war. But it’s not only Kathy who’s changing. Political, social and natural landscapes are all in peril. Fascism is on the rise, truth is dead and the planet's hotting up. Is it really worth learning to love when the end of the world is nigh? 
>> The Crudo playlist.

The Years by Annie Ernaux             $40
Considered by many to be the iconic French memoirist’s defining work, The Years is a narrative of the period 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, impressions past and present, cultural habits, language, photos, books, songs, radio, television, advertising and news headlines. Ernaux invents a form that is subjective and impersonal, private and communal, and a new genre – the collective autobiography – in order to capture the passing of time. 
"A Remembrance of Things Past for our age of media domination and consumerism." - New York Times
"The Years is a revolution, not only in the art of autobiography but in art itself. Annie Ernaux’s book blends memories, dreams, facts and meditations into a unique evocation of the times in which we lived, and live." — John Banville
"One of the best books you’ll ever read." — Deborah Levy
"Ravishing and almost oracular with insight, Ernaux’s prose performs an extraordinary dance between collective and intimate, 'big' history and private experience. The Years is a philosophical meditation paced as a rollercoaster ride through the decades. How we spend ourselves too quickly, how we reach for meaning but evade it, how to live, how to remember – these are Ernaux’s themes. I am desperate for more." — Kapka Kassabova
"A book of memory, of a life and world, staggeringly and brilliantly original." — Philippe Sands
Lucia by Alex Pheby         $32
"She is about thirty-three, speaks French fluently. Her character is gay, sweet and ironic, but she has bursts of anger over nothing when she is confined to a straightjacket," write James Joyce of his daughter, Lucia. Whose story is Lucia's story? Lucia Joyce was a lover of Samuel Beckett and an avant-garde dancer. From her twenties she was treated for schizophrenia and spent the last thirty years of her life in an asylum. After her death her letters were destroyed and references to her were removed from archives. Alex Pheby, who is superb at mapping the workings of minds outside the norm (read Thomas's review of Playthings here), fills in the erasures and lacunae in this fascinating novel, not appropriating Lucia's story but shining beams of light towards her from multiple points of view. 
"Brilliant, compelling, profoundly disturbing." - Literary Review
"An emotionally powerful and constantly questioning novel, Lucia probes speculation, truth and the fraught ethics of history, biography and narrative itself." - Irish Times
>> The lost story of a Parisian dancer
Aliens and Anorexia by Chris Kraus            $23
Following I Love Dick and Torpor to complete her trilogy of detonations under the wall that lies between fiction and memoir, Aliens and Anorexia unfolds like a set of Chinese boxes, using stories and polemics to travel through a maze that spirals back into itself. Its characters include Simone Weil, the first radical philosopher of sadness, the artist Paul Thek, Kraus herself, and her virtual S&M partner who’s shooting a big-budget Hollywood film in Namibia while Kraus holes up in the Northwest Woods for the winter to chronicle the failure of Gravity & Grace, her own low-budget independent film. Kraus argues for empathy as the ultimate perceptive tool, and reclaims anorexia from the psychoanalytic girl-ghetto of poor “self-esteem.” Anorexia, Kraus writes, could be an attempt to leave the body altogether: a rejection of the cynicism this culture hands us through its food.
>>"I'm just a channel for all that shit."
>> "This female consciousness."
Fully Coherent Plan (For a new and better society) by David Shrigley          $33
Possibly the most miserable set of cartoons ever assembled. 
"With a casual gesture Shrigley points to that hideous shape whose name I've never known - and then he names it. And the name is profoundly, embarrassingly familiar. I'm laughing while frantically searching for a pen, so desperate to capture the feeling he has unearthed in me." - Miranda July
"On the kink of his line Shrigley can shift effortlessly from pathos to paranoia. And his work is funny - very funny; his timing devastatingly effective." - Will Self
>> Have a look at this
Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble           $20
"This collection speaks about beauty, activism, power and popular culture with compelling guile, a darkness, a deep understanding and sensuality. It dives through noir, whakamā and kitsch and emerges dripping with colour and liquor. There’s whakapapa, funk (in all its connotations) and fetishisation. The poems map colonisation of many kinds through intergenerational, indigenous domesticity, sex, image and disjunction. They time-travel through the powdery mint-green 1960s and the polaroid sunshine 1970s to the present day. Their language and forms are liquid—sometimes as lush as what they describe, other times deliberately biblical or oblique. It all says: here is a writer who is experiencing herself as powerful, restrained but unafraid, already confident enough to make a phat splash on the page." —Hinemoana Baker
>> "I always assumed Denis Glover was talking about some other Johnsonville."
>> 'For a Cigarette and a Blanket.'
People from the Pit, Stand Up by Sam Duckor-Jones         $30
This is the voice of someone who is both at home and not at home in the world. Sam Duckor-Jones’s fresh, funny, dishevelled poems are alive with art-making and fuelled by a hunger for intimacy. Giant clay men lurk in salons, the lawns of poets overgrow, petrolheads hoon along the beach, birds cry ‘wow-okay, wow-okay, wow-okay’.
"Gorgeous and contrary." —Jenny Bornholdt
"If attention is an act of love, then this is a collection that attends to art and life in such a way as to collapse any distinction between the two." —Chris Price
>> Hear Duckor-Jones on the radio and look at some of his sculptures
Albert Einstein Speaking by R.J. Gadney         $40
"If everybody lived a life like mine, there would be no need for novels." - Albert Einstein. 
An interesting novelistic treatment of Einstein's life, mixing documentary and fictional sources, springing from a chance telephone call that occurred near the end of Einstein's life. Princeton. New Jersey. 14th March 1954: 'Albert Einstein speaking.' 'Who?' asks the girl on the telephone. 'I'm sorry, ' she says. 'I have the wrong number.' 'You have the right number,' Albert says. So began a friendship. 
Capitalism by Nancy Fraser and Rahel Jaeggi           $46
Fraser and Jaeggi take a fresh look at the big questions surrounding the peculiar social form known as 'capitalism', upending many of our commonly held assumptions about what capitalism is and how to subject it to critique. They show how, throughout its history, various regimes of capitalism have relied on a series of institutional separations between economy and polity, production and social reproduction, and human and non-human nature, periodically readjusting the boundaries between these domains in response to crises and upheavals. 
Edgeland by David Eggleton           $28
Eggleton's new collection "possesses an intensity and driven energy, using the poets recognisable signature oratory voice, strong in beat and measure, rooted in rich traditions of chant, lament and ode. Mashing together the lyrical and the slangy, celebrating local vernaculars while simultaneously plugged in to a global zeitgeist of technobabble and fake news, Eggleton recycles and repurposes high visual culture and demotic aural culture."

Flying Too Close to the Sun: Myths in art, from Classical to contemporary by James Cahill        $90
A beautifully presented and thoughtfully selected survey of the persistence of myths in visual culture. 

Poverty Safari: Understanding the anger of Britain's underclass by Darren McGarvey         $28
A modern-day counterpart, perhaps, to George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, this book was awarded the 2018 Orwell Prize for political writing. “It’s not just a lament against austerity but as much a hymn in praise of the power of the individual. It’s both a big social critique and a big call to individual liberty and empowerment. McGarvey says individuals matter and people really do have control of their own destiny, but they are also caught in a social condition that can be a trap.” (Orwell Prize judges). McGarvey grew up living in poverty. He suffered domestic abuse, his mother died young, leaving her school-age children behind her, and Darren fell into a trap of drug and alcohol addiction. But he managed to pull himself out of this. Now, Darren is a successful columnist and advocate for change, representing many NGOs and organisations in the Third Sector.
>> About the author
>> a.k.a. Loki the Scottish Rapper.
There There by Tommy Orange           $37
A remarkable multivocal novel depicting the results of centuries of disenfranchisement and racism on Native American communities in the US. 
"This is a novel about what it means to inhabit a land both yours and stolen from you, to simultaneously contend with the weight of belonging and unbelonging. There is an organic power to this book, a revelatory, controlled chaos. Tommy Orange writes the way a storm makes landfall." - Omar El Akkad, author of American War
There There has so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it’s a revelation." - New York Times
>> "There is a monolithic version of what a Native American is supposed to be."
Body of Art          $90
The most comprehensive survey of the representation of, and meanings of, the human body in art of all periods and cultures. Thoughtful, provocative, and frequently surprising.
Modern Nature by Derek Jarman         $28
In 1986 Derek Jarman discovered he was HIV positive and decided to make a garden at his cottage on the barren coast of Dungeness. Facing an uncertain future, he nevertheless found solace in nature, growing all manner of plants. While some perished beneath wind and sea-spray others flourished, creating brilliant, unexpected beauty in the wilderness. Modern Nature is both a diary of the garden and a meditation by Jarman on his own life: his childhood, his time as a young gay man in the 1960s, his renowned career as an artist, writer and film-maker. It is at once a lament for a lost generation, an unabashed celebration of gay sexuality, and a devotion to all that is living. A new edition, with an introduction by Olivia Laing.
>> Visit the gardens at Prospect Cottage
>> Meet Derek Jarman
>> Some of Jarman's remarkable films
>> Olivia Laing, Philip Hoare and Sarah Wood discuss Derek Jarman
The Dead Still Cry Out by Helen Lewis           $38
As a child, Helen Lewis discovered a suitcase in a cupboard at home. It contained horrific photographs taken by her father, a combat photographer, of the atrocities committed at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Lewis charts her father's upbringing in the East End of London, where he and his family experienced English anti-Semitism, his career documenting humanity at its worst, and the impact this had on him in the years afterwards. 
>> Visions of hell

Rise Up, Women! The remarkable lives of the suffragettes by Diane Atkinson          $48
Clear and detailed. 
"A thrilling and inspiring read! For too long these extraordinary women have been hidden from history. Rise Up, Women! should be a standard text in all schools. And it will be a treasured handbook for today's feminists." - Harriet Harman (British MP and QC)
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler           $37
A bittersweet, hope-filled look at two quirky families that have broken apart and are trying to find their way back to one another. 

Rare Books Uncovered: True stories of fantastic finds in unexpected places by Rebecca Rego Barry          $28
The London Lover: My weekend that lasted thirty years by Clancy Sigal         $40
Hugely enjoyable and bristling with personalities and anecdotes, this book perfectly captures the decades of the high and low life of the crazed American who arrived in London in 1957, plugged into the literary and arts scene through his affair with Doris Lessing, had therapy with R.D. Laing, got involved with the CND and with more subversive movements, and indulged in pretty much everything that could be indulged in. Sigal's anxieties and insecurities, together with his wonderful style, make this memoir deeply human and enjoyable.

Hotel Silence by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir          $23
Everything that doesn't work is a mark of our humanity. Jonas is starting to feel that life hasn't worked out the way he thought it would. Divorced and lonely, with nothing much to live for, he decides to buy a one-way ticket somewhere, anywhere, with no intention of coming back.When he arrives at the strangely deserted airport, in the barren holiday resort (the cheapest last-minute deal he could find), and ends up on the doorstep of Hotel Silence, which has definitely seen better days, it seems the ideal place to put an end to it all. There isn't any dinner, the plumbing barely works, and the hotel staff seem somewhat distracted. But as his relationship with May and her small son Adam grows into friendship, he begins to understand the traumatic story of this war-torn country, Jonas discovers reasons to carry on. 
Out of My Head: On the trail of consciousness by Tim Parks       $40
Who better than Tim Parks to ask us along on his enquiry into what consciousness is, consciousness's relationship to matter, who and what might be conscious, and how technology is changing our ideas about it. 

Letterforms: Typeface design from past to future by Timothy Samara        $45
Remarkably good analysis of the evolution and design considerations of fonts. 

Search and Find: Alphabet of Alphabets by Alan Sanders     $33

Each fascinating illustrated letter of the alphabet contains another alphabet: An alphabet of Alphabets, an alphabet of Birds, an alphabet of Creepy-crawlies, an alphabet of Dinosaurs, &c, &c. Fun. 

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, Frederich Engels and Martin Rowson         $30
At last - the Communist Manifesto as a graphic novel!

07/07/2018 08:58 PM

BOOKS @ VOLUME  #82 (7.7.18)

Read our latest NEWSLETTER and find out what we've been reading, about the newest new releases, and about our events, courses and competitions.

07/07/2018 08:28 PM

The Mapmakers' Race by Eirlys Hunter   {Reviewed by STELLA}
Meet the Santander family - explorers and mapmakers. When Ma misses the train, Sal, the twins Joe and Francie, along with young Humphrey, are on their own, making their way to Grand Prospect as entrants in the Great Mapmakers' Race, a competition to map a railway route through the uncharted wilderness from Grand Prospect to the port at New Coalhaven. The fastest team wins the prize, and the best map, the grand prize, will become the new railway. And all this needs to be done in 28 days! Arriving in Grand Prospect, the children are scoffed at and almost not allowed to race. No one has much faith in them, despite their parents’ reputation as fine explorers and excellent mapmakers. The children have to go on - it’s their only hope of raising the funds to track down their father, who has been missing for months on an expedition. Surely Ma will find a horse, get another train, catch up with them somewhere. Four children stranded in Grand Prospect with no money, a minimum of supplies, a four-year-old in tow, no horses to carry their load of supplies, and competing with several adult teams who have brawn, wonders or money at their fingertips: teams like Cody Cole and his Cowboys - tough men with fine horses - their symbol a rifle and a telescope crossed over a map; the Solemn Team - scientific and logical; and Sir Montague Basingstoke-Black and his mountaineers - pipes firmly tucked in mouths, astride their mechanical horses that will never tire. But the real stars of this book are the inventive and brilliant Santander children. Setting out on the road, they meet Beckett - a local lad - who gives them a helping hand. Resourceful and savvy, Beckett procures donkeys and food and has a few tricks up his sleeve. Enticed by the idea of the railway, he joins the Santanders - luckily for them, as neither cooking nor rationing the food supplies are part of the children's skill set. Amazing talents they do have, though: Joe is the surveyor, cutting ahead, often through prickly thorns and thick undergrowth, to find and make the best path; Sal is the mathematician, working the altimeter, calculating the inclines and declines and solving the technical problems; Francie is the map-maker - a brilliant artist - who can fly, take herself above the landscape and see it from a bird’s eye view; and Humphrey notices - the keen observer - things that the others miss. The Mapmakers' Race is an exciting, well-paced adventure from New Zealand author Eirlys Hunter. There are illustrations by Kirsten Slade throughout, and each chapter starts with a map marking out the journey and giving the reader teasers as to what might happen in the next few pages. Chapter eleven’s drawing includes the Impenetrable Cliffs of Doom, Camp Comeuppance and Camp Exhaustion. There will be bears, bats, tricks and treats, wild rivers, endless climbs, snow and storms. There are scary stories, magical tales and funny episodes around the campfire to cheer the spirits and keep the children travelling onward. This is an enjoyable read-aloud or keep-to-yourself and will have some children reaching for ink and paper to become wondrous mapmakers, and others out in the wilderness, exploring and making tracks. Charming, exciting and just a little dangerous.  

07/07/2018 08:27 PM

The Cemetery in Barnes by Gabriel Josipovici   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
Meaning, in literature as in life, is to be found in its form rather than in its content. This subtly disconcerting novella, told almost entirely in the habitual past tense (“he would”, “he used to”), portrays how memory works as an endlessly repeated palimpsest, constantly erasing and overwriting the impress of actual events, at the same time and by the same procedure both providing and preventing access to the past. The tension between what is erased and what cannot be erased intensifies through the novella, which assembles its layers of narration as if gleaned from conversation by a guest in the house in Wales of a translator and his wife, but somehow at the same time providing access to the private thoughts and self-narratives of the translator. Josipovici’s lightness and fluidity moving between speech, reported speech and thought, and his remarkable ability to encompass many versions of a story in one text, is alluded to by the translator as we learn of his fantasies of drowning himself in the Seine after he moved to Paris following the death of his first wife: “He knew such feelings were neurotic, dangerous even, but he was not unduly worried, sensing that it was better to indulge them than to try and eliminate them altogether. After all, everyone has fantasies. In the one life there are many lives. Alternative lives. Some are lived and others imagined. That is the absurdity of biographies, he would say, of novels. They never take account of the alternative lives casting their shadows over us as we move slowly, as though in a dream, from birth to maturity to death.” It is the death of the translator’s first wife that the text constantly attempts to avoid but toward which it is constantly pulled. The translator takes refuge in the stories of others to provide relief from his own. “It was only when the meaning of what he was translating began to seep through to him, he said, that he found it difficult.” After her death he moves from London to Paris, experiences detachment and detachment from detachment: “Sometimes, as he was walking through the Parisian streets, he would suddenly be seized with the feeling that he was not there, that all this was still in the future or else in the distant past. He would examine this feeling with detachment, as if it belonged to someone else, and then walk on.” Some experiences leave a wound, however, that is not easily erased, or to which one is too attached to erase, such as the wound on the thigh the narrator receives during an encounter with a young woman in a beret about whom little else has been retained. “We’ve all got something like that somewhere on our bodies. Maybe if we got rid of it we wouldn’t be ourselves any more.” Moments of the past sit with specific sharpness in the generalisation of the habitual past tense narration which seeks but fails to erase them, to keep the narrator functioning at the cost of the events makes him himself. “Listen to him, [his second wife] would say. He never sticks to the subject but always manages to generalise. It’s another way of avoiding life.” But the unspeakable pulls so hard upon the narrative that does not speak of it that that narrative becomes patterned entirely by that which it does not represent. “There are times when the order you have so carefully established seems suddenly unable to protect you from the darkness.” The unassimilable specifics of the circumstances of his first wife’s death start to show through, and our suspicions are both intensified and undermined by the means by which we form them. We are left, as is the translator, in the words of a poem by du Bellay that he translates, “at the mercy of the winds, / Sitting at the tiller in a ship full of holes.”

07/07/2018 06:04 PM

Our Book of the Week this week is the riveting new children's book from Eirlys Hunter, The Mapmakers' Race (illustrated by Kirsten Slade and published by Gecko Books). 
Four children temporarily lose their parents just as they are about to begin the race that offers their last chance of escaping poverty. Their task is to map a rail route through an uncharted wilderness. They overcome the many obstacles posed by nature—bears, bees, bats, river crossings, cliff-falls, impossible weather—but can they survive the treachery of their competitors?

>> Read Stella's review

>> Read the first chapter

>> Read another extract

>> Meet Eirlys Hunter

>> Meet the illustrator, Kirsten Slade

06/07/2018 05:56 PM

Some of them are very new. 
Pamper Me to Hell and Back by Hera Lindsay Bird        $22
"Love, death, Bruce Willis, public urination, being a woman, love, The Nanny, love. This pamphlet of poetry by Hera Lindsay Bird is a startling departure from her bestselling debut Hera Lindsay Bird by defying convention and remaining exactly the same, only worse. This collection, which focuses on love, childish behaviours, 90’s celebrity references and 'being a woman', is sure to confirm all your worst suspicions and prejudices."
Selected by Carol Ann Duffy: "Without doubt the most arresting and original new young poet - on page and in performance - to arrive."
The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza        $30
On a dark and stormy night, an unnamed narrator is visited by two women: one a former lover, the other a stranger. They ruthlessly question their host and claim to know his greatest secret: that he is, in fact, a woman. In increasingly desperate attempts to defend his masculinity, perplexed by the stranger's dubious claims to be the writer Amparo Davila, he finds himself spiralling deeper into a haunted past that may or may not be his own. 
"An intelligent, beautiful story about bodies disguised as a story about language disguised as a story about night terrors. Cristina Rivera Garza does not respect what is expected of a writer, of a novel, of language. She is an agitator." - Yuri Herrera
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata        $30
For nearly twenty years Keiko (like the author of this book) has been working in a convenience store, a role that both gives her purpose in life and, after initially allowing her to pass as a 'normal' person in a very conformist society, gives her a place from which to defy conformist expectations, especially concerning personal relationships, and to isolate herself from the pressures of social life. 
“The novel borrows from Gothic romance, in its pairing of the human and the alluringly, dangerously not. It is a love story, in other words, about a misfit and a store. Keiko’s self-renunciations reveal the book to be a kind of grim post-capitalist reverie: she is an anti-Bartleby, abandoning any shred of identity outside of her work. It may make readers anxious, but the book itself is tranquil—dreamy, even—rooting for its employee-store romance from the bottom of its synthetic heart.” —Katy Waldman, New Yorker
>> Odd is the new normal
>> An interview with the author
Trans-Europe Express: Tours of a lost continent by Owen Hatherley      $40
Over the past twenty years European cities have become the envy of the world: a Kraftwerk Utopia of historic centres, supermodernist concert halls, imaginative public spaces and futuristic egalitarian housing estates which, interconnected by high-speed trains traversing open borders, have a combination of order and pleasure which is exceptionally unusual elsewhere. How and why do European cities differ so markedly from the cities of the developer-oriented, car-centred Anglo-Saxon norm? 
"The latest heir to Ruskin." - Boyd Tonkin, Independent 

"Hatherley is the most informed, opinionated and acerbic guide you could wish for." - Hugh Pearman
The Hospital by Ahmed Bouanani           $35
"When I walked through the large iron gate of the hospital, I must have still been alive." In this novel based on Bouanani’s own experiences as a tuberculosis patient, the hospital begins to feel increasingly like a prison or a strange nightmare: the living resemble the dead; bureaucratic angels of death descend to direct traffic, claiming the lives of a motley cast of inmates one by one; childhood memories and fantasies of resurrection flash in and out of the narrator’s consciousness as the hospital transforms before his eyes into an eerie, metaphorical space. Somewhere along the way, the hospital’s iron gate disappears. The Hospital is a nosedive into the realms of the imagination, in which a journey to nowhere in particular leads to the most shocking places.
>> Read an excerpt.
Scenes from a Childhood by Jon Fosse         $32
For clarity and efficiency and resonance of prose, few contemporary writers can outdo Norway's Jon Fosse. 
"Fosse’s prose builds out of an ambiguity and sparseness and moves with a slow poetic intensity. The collection has all the hallmarks of Fosse’s signature brooding manner where lyrical precision is used to paint unmoored psyches. Scenes from a Childhood is a welcome – if overdue – introduction to a singular literary voice." — Tank
"Fosse has been compared to Ibsen and to Beckett, and it is easy to see his work as Ibsen stripped down to its emotional essentials. But it is much more. For one thing, it has a fierce poetic simplicity." — New York Times
>> Read an excerpt
White Plains: Pieces and witherlings by Gordon Lish          $38
Against the backdrop of White Plains hospital, Lish skewers together memories of long-past infidelities and betrayals, on-going friendships, the death of his wife and the relative comfort of household chairs, to forge a series of interlinked hypnotic and hilarious narratives to pick away at what we thought was our idea of memory. Lish was the editor who 'made' Raymond Carver. 
"Closer to a snarling rant than a work of fiction. Reads like the freewheeling wordplay of a mad person." – TLS
"These are stories for the neurotic state of our times, stories for insomnia, stories for those who wake in discontent. There will never be another like Gordon Lish." – Berfrois
Ruth Asawa by Tiffany Bell and Robert Storr        $115
Known for her intricate and dynamic wire sculptures, the American sculptor, educator and arts activist Ruth Asawa challenged conventional notions of material and form through her emphasis on lightness and transparency. Asawa began her now iconic looped-wire works in the late 1940s while still a student at Black Mountain College. 
>> The Ruth Asawa website (recommended). 
>> Of forms and growth.
>> Objects and apparitions
The Pisces by Melissa Broder         $33
A woman completing a thesis on Sappho finds herself deeply attracted to a merman. 
"Through the eyes of our merman-obsessed anti-heroine, we become attuned to both the poignancy and pointlessness of the human experience-from illusory ambition to unruly erotic fantasy." - Molly Prentiss
>> Meet the author.
The Toy Catalogue by Sandra Petrignani         $30
A series of exquisite, compactly written pieces exploring the the wonder and sadness of children's toys and their capacity to stir both unsettling and comforting memories in adults. 
My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan         $6
Actually, it's a short story. "You will have heard of my friend the once celebrated novelist Jocelyn Tarbet, but I suspect his memory is beginning to fade. You'd never heard of me, the once obscure novelist Parker Sparrow, until my name was publicly connected with his. To a knowing few, our names remain rigidly attached, like the two ends of a seesaw. His rise coincided with, though did not cause, my decline. I don't deny there was wrongdoing. I stole a life, and I don't intend to give it back. You may treat these few pages as a confession."
A Weekend in New York by Benjamin Markovits        $33
Tolstoy claimed: 'All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way'. But what if the happy families are actually the most unusual of all? What does it mean to be a family? To be an individual? And how do we deal with the responsibilities these roles impose upon us? A Weekend In New York intertwines the politics of the household and the state to forge a luminous national portrait on a deceptively local scale. 

The Mapmakers' Race by Erlys Hunter           $25
Four children temporarily lose their parents just as they are about to begin the race that offers their last chance of escaping poverty. Their task is to map a rail route through an uncharted wilderness. They overcome the many obstacles posed by nature—bears, bees, bats, river crossings, cliff-falls, impossible weather—but can they survive the treachery of their competitors?

Out in the Open by Javi Rey, based on the novel by Jesús Carrasco       $35
A stunning graphic novel. After suffering violence and betrayal at home, a young boy flees into an uncompromising landscape ravaged by drought. Without food or water, exposed to the heat of the sun and the violence of his pursuers, the boy sets out across the Spanish plains. An encounter with an elderly goatherd offers hope of survival. The old man can help him stay ahead of the dangers that lie outside - but he can't fix the internal drama that plays out in the boy's mind. Nightmares are a constant reminder of a traumatic past and an unstable present.
Conversations about Indigenous Rights: The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Selwyn Katene and Rawiri Taunui         $45
Shows the alignment between the Treaty of Waitangi and the Declaration, and examines how the Declaration assists the interpretation and application of Treaty principles of partnership, protection and participation.

In these Days of Prohibition by Caroline Bird         $28
Bird's poems hold their subjects in an unflinching grip, addressing faces behind the veneer, asking what it is that keeps us alive. 
"Her poems burst with linguistic energy." - TLS
>>Some poems by Caroline Bird.

XYZ of Happiness by Mary McCallum          $25
Poems of happiness - as it comes, when it’s missing and when it is hoped for. 

Three Balls of Wool by Henriqueta Cristina and Yara Kono     $30
In search of a freer place where every child can go to school, a family moves from Fascist Portugal to Communist Czechoslovakia. Different as this new country is, however, it is far from ideal. In this new, grey world, the lack of freedom is felt in the simplest things, such as the colours one can and cannot wear.
Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori and Lucille Clerc      $40
This beautifully illustrated book uses plant science to illuminate how trees play a role in every part of human life, from the romantic to the regrettable. Includes the New Zealand kauri. 
How Democracy Ends by David Runciman         $37
Democracy has died hundreds of times, all over the world. We think we know what that looks like: chaos descends and the military arrives to restore order, until the people can be trusted to look after their own affairs again. However, there is a danger that this picture is out of date. Until very recently, most citizens of Western democracies would have imagined that the end was a long way off, and very few would have thought it might be happening before their eyes as Trump, Brexit and paranoid populism have become a reality.
Days of Awe by A.M. Homes           $33
 A.M. Homes exposes the heart of an uneasy America in her new collection - exploring people's attachments to each other through characters who aren't quite who they hoped to become, though there is no one else they can be.
"Furiously good." - Zadie Smith
Last Stories by William Trevor         $35
A posthumous collection from one of the subtlest short-story stylists.

Ahed Tamimi: A girl who fought back by Paul Morris, Paul Heron, Peter Lahti and Manal Tamimi      $40
"We only want to live a peaceful life. We want to play like other children. My dream is to become a football player." The story of the 16-year-old girl imprisoned by the Israeli army for slapping a soldier in defiance of the Zionist occupation in her village in the West Bank. "She should have gotten a bullet." - Deputy Knesset Speaker Bezalel Smotrich. The book helps the Palestine Legal Defence Fund.
>> Living resistance
Quantum Mechanics: The theoretical minimum by Leonard Susskind        $26
This book will give you the best possible handle on quantum theory - enough to fully grasp the concepts but nothing extraneous to occlude them. 
Because I Come from a Crazy Family: The making of a psychologist by Edward M. Hallowell        $40

When Edward M. Hallowell was eleven, a voice out of nowhere told him he should become a psychiatrist. 
May Day Manifesto, 1968 edited by Raymond Williams      $25
Is a 1968 vision for a socialist future a useful tool today? 

01/07/2018 12:11 AM

BOOKS @ VOLUME #81 (30.6.18)

Our latest newsletter, containing our reviews, recommendations, news and new releases. 

01/07/2018 12:05 AM

The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle  {Reviewed by STELLA}
Welcome to E2 - Ecosphere II, a contained world: a shell of steel and glass sealed from E1 (Earth) in the Arizona desert. Meet Linda Ryu and Dawn Chapman, best friends and competitors for a place in the sphere. Meet cocky Ramsey Roothoorp, guaranteed a place in the team, a competent and logical Terranaut. The novel is told through these three voices - their viewpoints rotating to give us the worldview (in this case, the microscopic view of E2 and Mission Control). The Ecosphere is an experiment to develop a human self-supporting environment, one that will be able to support humankind when the world goes to custard and the earth is uninhabitable. The biodome has been carefully made, with species that will not destroy each other or the environment, with both wild and domestic animals - food sources and nurturers of a balanced ecology, and man-made water and air systems (which ironically need a ton of electrical power from the 'outside' to keep it going). It has all the ecosystems - including rain forest, plains, marine - on a mini scale, cared for a team of eight terranauts - most of whom are leading scientists. Mission Control consists of four power players - the visionary Jeremiah Reed, referred to as G.C. (God the Creator), assisted by chief aide Judy (Judas) and operations manager Dennis (Little Jesus), with the project backed by billionaire Darren Iverson, G.F (God the Financier). If it’s starting to sound a little cult-like, you’re on the right track. There are minions and hopeful wannabes awaiting their turn in the dome. The plan is a closed ecosystem experiment of 100 years - 50 missions of two years duration. We meet our three protagonists when they are in a team of sixteen, bonding and showing their best selves, scientifically, physically and emotionally, in an attempt to win a place in the second team to go under the dome. The first mission came a cropper so the pressure is on to make mission two a success. their mantra “Nothing out, nothing in,” no matter what, and total team dedication. When Dawn is chosen and Linda is left outside, a chasm is opened. How will the friendship survive and what are the true motivations of both? Was Linda sidelined because she’s not the right cultural mix, not a ‘natural beauty’ - because she wouldn’t make such great press? Because this is a world of PR spin (Ramsey’s role: Communications Officer/ Water Systems Manager), all media eyes are on E2, hoping for success but delighting in failure, tourists gawping from the outside. It’s one big fishbowl, and Mission Control is absolutely fixated on power and celebrity. But when you can’t get in except through telecommunications, how much control can be kept? As the first year goes by there are the expected highs and lows, petty jealousies, lack of freedom, absolute physical tiredness (it’s hard work being on constant rations and producing enough food for eight), yet there are euphoric moments when all goes well and even better than expected, when the team bonds, and even moments of relaxation and celebration. When Dawn becomes a catalyst for a division, the risk of whole mission blowing up is heightened, and the cracks begin to show. The second year rolls around and the team draws its lines in the sand with each other as well as with Mission Control. Who can be trusted and how far will they go to keep the faith? Ramsey is compromised by his close relationship with the Mission Control quartet, especially Judy - who will fight tooth and claw to keep the upper hand. As food becomes a constant issue, the Terranauts are pushed to their physical limits, but it’s their psychological health that may undo them, and their individual desires to be top dog and for glory. The humans become the greatest risk to the big experiment. T.C.Boyle creates a soap opera of an ecological experiment - this is satire at its best - tense, funny and often too close to the bone. 

01/07/2018 12:01 AM

The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy  {Reviewed by THOMAS} 
“Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards,” observed Søren Kierkegaard, quoted by Deborah Levy in this account of her struggle for the re-establishment of intellectual freedom and literary momentum in the period following her "escape from the shipwreck” of her marriage and death of her mother. What seems like blundering is only blundering because one is out of the rut to which one had been assigned, because moving forwards while facing backwards is necessarily tentative, because “a new way of living” comes at a cost that cannot be prepaid. Levy quotes Heidegger: “Everyone is the other and no one is himself,” but her aim, in her life and in her writing, is to get “as close to human subjectivity as it is possible to get.” Moving towards the “vague destination of a freer life,” Levy, author of, among other things, the Booker-shortlisted novels Swimming Home and Hot Milk, and of a preceding volume of memoir, Things I Don't Want to Know, moves with her daughters to a tower block where the heating and the water function sporadically, where her neighbour berates her for parking her electric bicycle in front of the building to unload her shopping and where the practical details of life become more problematic, more graspable, more contestable, more real. The Cost of Living is  full of details that eschew meaning other than their function as points upon which the whole mechanism of “living” can pivot and flex and find new forms. Levy’s near neighbour offers her a garden shed in which to write, and, as she furnishes it around herself, “it was there that I began to write in the first person, using an *I* that is close to myself but is not myself.” The non-writing life of a writer provides perspective for the writer exactly to the extent that it limits the writer’s production. There can never be an easy (and thereby fatal) accommodation between the literary and quotidian demands upon a writer’s time and energies, but it is exactly this unease, this ambivalence of contesting primacies, that can generate the sort of thought - call it frustration - that can, at best, make life freer and literature more urgent. Meaning, in literature or in life, is always a matter of structure and never of content. The Cost of Living makes no claim to profundity because it excludes profundity from the list of useful things. It is tentative and ambivalent and inconclusive because thought is always unfinished (if it were finished it would cease to be thought). Levy extends de Beauvoir’s observation that gender (among other things) is performative, and wonders how she can move away from what we could call a pre-scripted life to what we could call a de-scripted life. “Everything,” she observes, “is connected in the ecology of language and living.” To write in the first person, whether in fiction or memoir, is to perform a subjectivity that must always sit both uncomfortably close to and uncomfortingly distant from the *I* that writes. A text, regardless of its mode of generation, enters the performance of its reception and is immediately at the mercy, so to call it, of the prevailing modes of that performance. A text will only be effective to the extent that it is neither absorbed nor ejected by that performance. Rachel Cusk, in her superb new novel Kudos has her narrator observe of another writer, Luis (Cusk’s stand-in for Knausgaard): “Unusually perhaps for any man, he has been honest about his own life. … Though of course if he were a woman he would be scorned for this honesty, or at the very least no one would care.” Levy has been, it seems, unvarnishedly honest about her own life and The Cost of Living stands as a memorable challenge to the still-prevailing modes of reception that presume a performance of gender (among other things) that Levy and Cusk both analyse and dismiss.  

30/06/2018 01:07 PM

Our Book of the Week this week is The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, the hotly anticipated new novel from the author of The Flamethrowers
It is 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at a women's prison. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth, and her young son. Inside is a world operating on its own mechanisms: thousands of women scrabbling to survive, and a power structure based on violence and absurdity. 

>> Read Stella's review

>> Stella reviews the book on Radio NZ National

>> Rachel Kushner thinks prisons should exist only in fiction

>> How Kushner learned about the American prison industry

>> Standing up for the guilty

>> Kushner discusses the book. 

>> The final sentence

>> Rachel Kushner at VOLUME

29/06/2018 04:33 PM


Release yourself with these books:

Room to Dream by David Lynch and Christine McKenna        $40
Unprecedented insight into the creative life of one of the most consistently unsettling living film directors. Lynch's free-form memoir sections are interspersed with long-time close collaborator McKenna's more traditionally biographical (but no less fascinating) sections. 
>> "I like to tell stories."
>> A trailer for Eraserhead (1977). 
This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman         $38
One of the last judicial executions in New Zealand was of Albert Black, the so-called 'Jukebox Killer', convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland in July, 1955. Kidman casts a novelist's eye upon the events surrounding the death and the trial, and evokes the forces and prejudices at play in society at the time. 
>>Black's friend remembers
Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang and Michael Bennett         $30
A new graphic novel from the creative genius of The Dharma PunksKidnapped by time-travelling ninjas, Helen is thrust into the year 2355 - a ruined future with roving gangs and 'Peace Balls', giant humming devices that enslave and control people's minds. The Go-Go Ninjas have one goal - to destroy the Peace Balls. They believe that Helen knows how. Can Helen use her knowledge of the past to help them save the future? 
>> A glimpse.
Cicada by Sean Tan       $30
After 17 years Cicada is tired of being unappreciated by his bosses and bullied by his co-workers. He quits and goes to the top of the building, where an astonishing thing happens...
>> How the book was made

Modernists and Mavericks: Bacon, Freud, Hockney and the London Painters, 1945-1970 by Martin Gayford      $55
A remarkably\e picture of the very fertile post-war period, based on an exceptionally deep well of firsthand interviews, often unpublished, with such artists as Victor Pasmore, John Craxton, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, Allen Jones, R. B. Kitaj, Euan Uglow, Howard Hodgkin, Terry Frost, Gillian Ayres, Bridget Riley, David Hockney, Frank Bowling, Leon Kossoff, John Hoyland, and Patrick Caulfield.

The Fear and the Freedom: How the Second World War changed us by Keith Lowe       $28
A very readable book using individual testimonies to view the impact of the conflict with out the myths, contexts and overarching narratives commonly placed upon it. How did the trauma change how people decided what was possible in their lives and societies? 
White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock          $19
Seventeen-year-old Peter Blankman is a maths prodigy. He also suffers from severe panic attacks. Afraid of everything, he finds solace in the orderly and logical world of mathematics and in the love of his family: his scientist mum and his tough twin sister Bel, as well as Ingrid, his only friend. However, when his mother is found stabbed before an award ceremony and his sister is nowhere to be found, Pete is dragged into a world of espionage and violence where state and family secrets intertwine. Armed only with his extraordinary analytical skills, Peter may just discover that his biggest weakness is his greatest strength.
Ayiti by Roxanne Gay          $35
Her debut collection of short stories exploring the Haitian diaspora experience.

The Human Planet: How we created the Anthropocene by Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Masin        $24
Our actions have driven Earth into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. For the first time in our home planet's 4.5-billion year history a single species is dictating Earth's future. To some the Anthropocene symbolises a future of superlative control of our environment. To others it is the height of hubris, the illusion of our mastery over nature. 
How Do We Look / The Eye of Faith ('Civilisations') by Mary Beard        $40
The idea of 'civilisation' has always been debated. At the heart of those debates lies the big question of how people - from prehistory to the present day - have depicted themselves and others, both human and divine. Distinguished historian Mary Beard explores how art has shaped, and been shaped by, the people who created it. How have we looked at these images? What has been their relationship to religion? A companion volume to the BBC 'Civilisations' series. 
>>Also available: First Contact / The Cult of Progress by David Olusoga.
The New Sorrows of Young W. by Ulrich Plenzdorf          $23
Edgar W, teenage dropout, unrequited lover, unrecognised genius, dead, tells the story of his brief, spectacular life. It is the story of how he rebels against the petty rules of communist East Germany to live in an abandoned summer house, with just a tape recorder and a battered copy of Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther for company. Of his passionate love for the dark-eyed, unattainable kindergarten teacher Charlie. And of how, in a series of calamitous events (involving electricity and a spray paint machine), he meets his untimely end.
The Art of Losing Control: A philosopher's search for ecstatic experience by Jules Evans         $25
The heightened relinquishment of self-concept has been a source of personal creativity, social cohesion and so-called spiritual experience ever since self-concept appeared. It has also been the mechanism of mental illness, mob mentality and mind-control. 
How to Love Brutalism by John Grindrod          $30
Brutalist architecture, which flourished in the 1950s to mid-1970s, gained its name from the term ' Beton-brut', or raw concrete - the material of choice for the movement. British architectural critic Reyner Banham adapted the term into 'brutalism' (originally 'New Brutalism') to identify the emerging style. The architectural style - typified by buildings such as Trellick Tower in London and Unite d'Habitation in Marseille - is controversial but has an enthusiastic fan base, including the author, who is on a mission to explain his passion.
Behold, America: A history of America First and the American Dream by Sarah Churchwell            $33
What does America mean? Is it a land of opportunity for all, a melting pot, a democracy, or a xenophobic, nativist antidemocracy? How does the clash of these tendencies explain the America of today? 
Mapping the Bones by Jane Yolen       $24
Chaim and Gittel Abromowitz, 14-year-old twins connected by a secret language and a fierce love for each other. Their Jewish family has been relocated to the Lódz ghetto in Poland, stuffed into a small apartment with another family, the difficult Norenbergs, including children Sophie and Bruno. As the situation in the ghetto worsens and Dr. Norenberg disappears, Chaim pawns his mother’s engagement ring so both families can make a dangerous escape into the forest and, eventually, across the border into the Soviet Union. Before long, the children are separated from their parents.
In the Mouth of the Wolf by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Barroux        $33
Francis and Pieter are brothers. As shadow of one war lingers, and the rumbles of another approach, the brothers argue. Francis is a fierce pacifist, while Pieter signs up to fight. What happens next will change the course of Francis’s life forever - and throw him into the mouth of the wolf. Based on the true story of Morpurgo's uncles during World War 2. 
Hive by A.J. Betts        $20
A community lives in a constrained post-apocalyptic hexagonal world. Hayley tends her bees and all is as it 'should' be, until she notices a drip from the ceiling. What lies beyond the confines of her world? How is her community complicit? 
See No Evil: New Zealand's betrayal of the people of West Papua by Maire Leadbetter           $50
In the 1950s, New Zealand back self-determination for the former Dutch colony, but from 1962 New Zealand began to support Indonesia's annexation of the territory. The consequence of Indonesian rule has been a slow genocide of West Papuans. What has been, and what still is, New Zealand's complicity with the repressive Indonesian rule? 

Swallow's Dance by Wendy Orr        $19
A Bronze-Age adventure from the author of Dragonfly SongLeira is about to start her initiation as a priestess when her world is turned upside down. A violent earthquake leaves her home - and her family - in pieces. And the earth goddess hasn't finished with the island yet. With her family, Leira flees across the sea to Crete, expecting sanctuary. But a volcanic eruption throws the entire world into darkness. After the resulting tsunami, society descends into chaos; the status and privilege of being noble-born are reduced to nothing. With her injured mother and elderly nurse, Leira must find the strength and resourcefulness within herself to find safety.
Where the Line is Drawn: Crossing boundaries in occupied Palestine by Raja Shehadeh      $25
As a boy, Raja Shehadeh was entranced by a forbidden Israeli postage stamp in his uncle's album, intrigued by tales of a green land beyond the border. He couldn't have known then what Israel would come to mean to him, or to foresee the future occupation of his home in Palestine. Later, as a young lawyer, he worked to halt land seizures and towards peace and justice in the region. 
"A courageous and timely meditation on the fragility of friendship in dark times, illuminating how affiliation and love can have a profound political power." - Madeleine Thien 
"Written with fierce clarity and unusual compassion, this book touches the human heart of a political tragedy." - Gillian Slovo
Collision, Compromise and Conversion: A critical study of Hokianga Maori, missionary and kauri merchant interactions by Gary Clover        $70
Early Hokianga was a unique blend of Ngapuhi Maori, kauri milling settlers and Wesleyan missionaries. Drawing upon modern scholarly insights, Methodist historian Gary Clover investigates the nature of culture change and Maori 'conversion' from 1827-1855, during New Zealand's early contact era. He explores how Hokianga Maori, amidst immense turmoil and change, adopted and 'Maorified' European technology, culture, and religion. 
Spying on Whales: The past, present and future of the world's largest animals by Nick Pyenson       $35
What can humans learn about surviving in a changing world from these creatures who for millennia have survived on a planet where oceans rose and fell and land masses shifted?

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell         $12
An 1855 novel tracing the ills of contemporary labour relations in a textile mill in industrialising northern England. Gaskell's novels frequently have a protofeminist perspective. 
She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The powers, perversions and potential of heredity by Carl Zimmer       $40
Heredity isn't just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our  bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors but we inherit other things as well. How do we need to rethink heredity? 
The Endsister by Penni Russon        $19
"I know what an endsister is," says Sibbi again.We are endsisters, Else thinks, Sibbi and I. Bookends, oldest and youngest, with the three boys sandwiched in between.Meet the Outhwaite children. There's teenage Else, the violinist who abandons her violin. There's nature-loving Clancy. There's the inseparable twins, Oscar-and-Finn, Finn-and-Oscar. And then there is Sibbi, the baby of the family. They all live contentedly squabbling in a cottage surrounded by trees and possums...until a letter arrives to say they have inherited the old family home in London. Outhwaite House is full of old shadows and new possibilities. The boys quickly find their feet in London, and Else is hoping to reinvent herself. But Sibbi is misbehaving, growing thinner and paler by the day, and she won't stop talking about the mysterious endsister. Meanwhile Almost Annie and Hardly Alice, the resident ghosts, are tied to the house for reasons they have long forgotten, watching the world around them change, but never leaving.The one thing they all agree on - the living and the dead - is never, ever to open the attic door.
How to Be Famous by Caitlin Moran     $37
A young woman finds that fame in the BritPop 1990s comes at a cost.
>> Moran talks and waves her arms about
Geometry #3       $18
A journal of New Zealand letters. Includes Paula Morris, Chris Holdaway, C.K. Stead, Cathy Adams, Edith Amituanai, Rachel Smith, Caoimhe McKeogh, Jennifer Ruth Jackson, Elena Alexander, Ant Sang, Brian Walpert, Brandon Timm, Mingpei Li, Benjamin Work, Sneha Subramanian Kanta, Lorraine Wilson, Jan Everard, Piet Nieuwland, Shannon Novak, Gina Cole, Adedayo Agarau and Selena Tusitala Marsh.
>> Other issues on-line

28/06/2018 07:07 PM

Choose from this selection of interesting fiction at reduced prices. 

These books have been selected for their excellence but they are beginning to feel jostled on our shelves by more recent arrivals. We have reduced their prices for a short time to help you make your winter more interesting.

>> Click here to choose, reserve and/or purchase your winter reading. We can send the books anywhere. 

24/06/2018 12:13 AM

Find out what we've been reading in our latest NEWSLETTER.

BOOKS @ VOLUME #80 (23.6.18)

23/06/2018 11:57 PM

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner  {Reviewed by STELLA}
When a novel is set in a prison you might wonder how much mileage an author can get out of a small cell. Meet Rachel Kushner, author, and her protagonist Romy Hall, double-lifer plus six years. The book opens with a group of women being transported by bus from their holding prison to their permanent home at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Secured to their seats by chains, the women travel through the night and a day, upright and silent. Conversation isn’t encouraged - talking isn’t allowed but this rule doesn’t stop the tiresome Laura Lipp from laying down her story. A woman collapses en route and she is left slumped half out of her seat (declared dead on arrival). Sitting with Romy, we get a glimpse of what her life is going to be like. Kushner tells us more with her descriptions of the bleak view from the window, from the jokes, traded insults and swagger of Romy’s fellow travellers, and Romy’s observations from her place removed from society. Arriving at Stanville the women are processed - a lengthy and humiliating process - during which the youngest of them, eight-months pregnant, goes into labour. Romy and two of her fellow inmates, Fernandez and Conan, earn themselves several weeks in Ad Seg (Administrative Segregation) for helping her give birth. “My first day in prison, and I had already blown my parole board hearing, which was in thirty-seven years.” The Mars Room is a sassy and uncompromising exploration of incarceration in America. Kushner's acerbic tone gives the novel a sharp register devoid of sentiment, her characters are real and raw, and, surprisingly, you will find yourself rooting for your favourites in spite of their crimes and violent pasts. As Romy reveals her story, we are taken to the streets of San Francisco and learn of life with a mother who is hooked on drugs, of an eleven-year-old Romy's first interaction of many with arsehole men, of her friendship with the wild and beautiful Eva, who will be swallowed up by drugs, and we are given a window to the world of women on the fringes of society. Romy’s not an addict, and not without some knowledge and ability, yet she ends up as a lap dancer at the Mars Room, a seedy downtown joint, a place where she thinks she has some independence and freedom. Romy’s downfall - she’s been slipping to the fringes for a while - is Kurt Kennedy. Her victim. Kushner doesn't pull any punches with The Mars Room - it’s gritty, dirty and appalling - just as you would expect. It’s also wry, and full of outrageous characters and their wild stories of heists, bad cops, deals gone wrong, money and drugs. It’s also a tender story about motherhood: Romy’s son is seven when she last sees him. Humanity, the bonds and loyalty of the inmates alongside their prison protocols, helps them create some kind of structure in their endless and repetitive lives - a telling portrayal of our punitive modern society. The Mars Room, like Kushner’s two earlier novels, Telex from Cuba and The Flamethrowers, has social injustice at its core, and is written with the same keen observation and sharp wit, which will make you a fan of her work if you aren’t already. 

23/06/2018 11:56 PM

Kudos by Rachel Cusk    {Reviewed by THOMAS}
The man next to me on the plane was so tall he couldn’t fit in his seat. His elbows jutted out over the armrests and his knees were jammed against the seat in front, so that the person in it glanced around in irritation every time he moved. The man twisted, trying to get himself into a comfortable, or at least less uncomfortable, position in which he could hold his book at an acceptable distance from his eyes, a distance about which he was either uncommonly fussy or which was dictated by the possibly narrow focal range of his spectacles. “Sorry,” he said. He explained that he needed to write a review of the book by the end of the week, that he was a bookseller with a small bookshop in a provincial town, and that he and his partner, the joint owners of the bookshop, felt obliged to produce a review each every week for inclusion in their digital newsletter. Some weeks were short on reading time, he explained, what with the demands of the bookshop and of what he termed, somewhat vaguely, family life, so he needed to take every opportunity he could to finish reading his current book, in this case Kudos by Rachel Cusk, reading even in circumstances hardly conducive to reading well, such as in cramped seats aboard what he termed fictional aircraft, a context that not only tended to indelibly dominate whatever activity was performed in it, especially the memory of that activity, even more so than the actual performance in what he called the present tense, using a literary term hardly appropriate to what I would term living in real time, memory being, after all, surely, he remarked, the primary mode of a book review, but also left one vulnerable to conversation with whatever stranger one found oneself sitting next to, quite intimately, for an extended period of time, a period of time which neither party to the conversation has the capacity to shorten. I asked him whether he thought that perhaps the random, or at least seemingly random, encounters with members of what might be politely termed the public might not be in some way enriching, and he visibly recoiled at my choice of word, so I repeated it, to gauge its effect, and I immediately understood his reaction. Well, yes, he thought that such encounters might be a way of not so much generating narrative as of generating whatever might take the place of narrative in a work of fiction from which narrative, the possibility of narrative and even the principle of narrative has been expunged. This was very much, he said, what Rachel Cusk had achieved in Kudos, the taking-away from the novel of those principles, or as many of them as possible, that are generally considered to comprise a novel: plot, narrative, characters, development, interiority, but which are really just a set of conventions by which what we think of as novels expend or release their energy, so to call it, without that energy achieving the potentials of fiction, namely to transfer the experience of awareness between two minds, so to call them, in other words, what we think of as the essentials of a novel are the very things that may well reduce the potency of the novel, and, conversely, he thought, if a writer, such as Cusk, managed, as she has with Kudos, to excise from the novel as many as possible of these, what he termed novelistic antics, the novel could become potentised, “austere and astringent,” he called it, cleansing our faculties and getting them to work properly, not just for the reading of fiction but for the living of life, “whatever that might consist of”. When I suggested that perhaps not writing at all would be the apogee of fiction, he laughed briefly, or snorted, and replied that, yes, he was trying that experiment himself, with some success, even though the results suggested that fiction’s ultimate achievement in destroying itself closely resembled the complete absence of fiction. Cusk in the negativity of her fiction was austere, he said, but not as austere as him, who produced, if anything, less than nothing. “I would like the work to be a non-work,” he said, quoting Eva Hesse without attribution. Of course, he went on - and I realised, looking at my watch, partly in an attempt to estimate the proportion of our flight that remained, partly to implant in him some sort of subliminal message, that it would be hard to stop him talking now that I had succeeded in engaging him in conversation - of course it is thewall between the fictional and the actual, between the so-called subjective and the so-called objective aspects of experience, that it should be fiction’s prerogative to assail, to undermine, to cause to crumble, for it is this wall that is responsible for the maintenance of all manner of errors about identity and reality and, ultimately, responsibility, so to call them, errors that are either traps or crutches, he said, traps and crutches being largely indistinguishable from each other unless you know the nature of your affliction, which can only be ascertained by the removal, at least temporarily, of the crutch upon which one has been leaning. I seemed, I thought, to have triggered in him a kind of mania of exposition, which I was beginning to regret, though I had done little more than make what I thought of as small talk with a man whose enthusiasm for literature must surely be an embarrassment to himself. He did not appear to blame me for this, at least, rather, he had become by this stage oblivious to anything but his own train of thought. In many ways, he said,Kudos resembled the work of Thomas Bernhard, a writer for whom he evidently had a great deal of respect, especially in the layering or nesting of narrative within several levels of reportage. In fact, nothingactually happens in the novel until the very last, memorable paragraph, other than the minimum necessary for the interchange of the series of characters - a man who sat beside her on an aeroplane, various writers and interviewers she encounters at a literary festival, a guide, her editor and her translator, her sons who telephone her - whose conversations with her, or, rather narrations to her, the narrator narrates. For instance, at one stage Cusk, one step more invisible even than her invisible narrator, tells us of the narrator telling of a writer named Linda telling of the woman who sat beside Linda on the plane telling Linda of how she came to break her bones. In another passage, during a conversation with an interviewer, the narrator describes to the interviewer what the interviewer had described to the narrator during a previous conversation. The narrator reveals nothing of herself, he explained with a patience that seemed unpredicated on either my understanding of or my interest in what he was explaining, other than that which is revealed by her function as a conduit for the stories, and voices, of others. By reducing herself to so very little, to almost nothing, the narrator is able to enter and own the stories of others, he said, or, rather, Cusk is able to use the narrator as a device to enter and own stories, the layers of narrative, hearsay and reportage rendering the distinction between fiction and actuality entirely extraneous. Also, this authorial or narratorial intrusion frequently breaches the distinctions between the levels of narrative, he said, what he called the narrator’s first person reduced and sharpened to such a pinprick that it enters and appropriates details in quoted speech and reported speech, in second- and third-person narratives of secondary and tertiary narratives in the second person - I must say I couldn’t follow quite what he was telling me, but, I must also say, I wasn’t trying very hard - sometimes ultimately reporting information that the narrator could in fact have no access to through those conversations, information that could not be at less than a step or two's remove. Although I was by this stage hardly encouraging him, the bookseller was unstoppable. “All fiction is inherently a transgression of the sovereignty of persons, although this transgression is by no means limited to fiction but can also be observed in all attempts at the so-called understanding of, or, rather, representation of, actual others.” The trappings of fiction and the conventions of social interaction try their hardest to mask this unconscionable intrusion and appropriation, but this intrusion and appropriation is at the nub of things, fictional and otherwise, he said, and ultimately destabilise any notions we might have of identityreality and, ultimately, responsibility. I suggested that he might have gone over this ground before, or so it seemed to me, but he continued. “Who owns whose narrative?” he demanded, not, I think, of me. He was quiet a moment, but not longer. “Listen to this,” he said, and proceeded to quote a passage he had marked in the book: “‘I said that while her story suggested that human lives could be governed by the laws of narrative, and all the notions of retribution and justice that narrative lays claim to, it was in fact merely her interpretation of events that created that illusion. … The narrative impulse might spring from the desire to avoid guilt, rather than from the need - as was generally assumed - to connect things together in a meaningful way; that it was a strategy calculated, in other words, to disburden ourselves from responsibility.’ What do you think?” he asked. I hadn’t quite caught it all, he had been reading too fast and we were sitting near the engines, so I hesitated before he went on, seemingly unaware that I had not replied. Cusk’s work was a work of great clarity, which, he said, as well as being very pleasurable to read, was a work of liberating negativity, a reformulation of the purpose and capacities of fiction, no less. The purpose of art is to turn upon and destroy itself, he said, or words to that effect, and at the same time and by this process to change the nature of our relationship with the actual. He turned to another marked passage, in which Cusk’s narrator, Faye, relates to an interviewer what had been said to her by her son during a telephone call, something about “‘passing through the mirror into the state of painful self-awareness where human fictions lose their credibility,’” a process he appeared to ascribe to the fiction, such asKudos, that he valued most. I told them that I was sorry, but he had actually managed, by his overcomplicated enthusiasm for it, to put me off buying a book I would no doubt otherwise have enjoyed, having enjoyed Cusk’s two previous books, Outline and Transit, and he obliged me by keeping quiet for what remained of the flight.   

23/06/2018 11:47 PM

Kudos by Rachel Cusk (published by Faber & Faber) is this week's Book of the Week at VOLUME. 
By narrating the stories of others as told to her, Cusk's anti-protagonist Faye embodies the struggle for ownership and identity at the core of all fiction. This book causes tectonic shifts in the reader's preconceptions. 

>> Read Thomas's review

>> Choose your own Rachel Cusk

>> "Perhaps the cruellest novelist at work today."

>> "Some people do not like Rachel Cusk." 

>> "Negative literature."

>> Cusk's Outline and Transit form a sort of 'Faye' trilogy with Kudos. It is not necessary, however, to read them all or in order. 


22/06/2018 04:03 PM

Just out of the carton at VOLUME.
Click on the covers to buy from our website.
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner           $37
The much anticipated new novel from the author of The Flame ThrowersIt is 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at a women's prison. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth, and her young son. Inside is a world operating on its own mechanisms: thousands of women scrabbling to survive, and a power structure based on violence and absurdity. 
"The Mars Room is so sensually convincing it leaves its imprint of steel mesh on your forehead, while its compassion embraces baby-killer and brutal cop alike in the merciless confines of the American justice system. An extraordinary literary achievement." - Adam Thorpe
"Mysterious and irreducible. The writing is beautiful - from hard precision to lyrical imagery, with a flawless feel for when to soar and when to pull back." - Dana Spiotta
"Her best book yet." - Jonathan Franzen
>> "Prisons should exist only in fiction."
Break.up by Joanna Walsh            $33
In this 'novel in essays', a brief romantic dalliance, a fizzle, is bookended by lengthy digital correspondence and speculative fretting and regret. Is this delusion or romance? Is this the blueprint of modern relationships? Has the balance between the actual and the virtual aspects of our lives altering to the point where it is becoming impossible to (actually) have a relationship with another (actual) person? 
"A smart, allusive meditation on longing, on solitude, on the lure of cities and on the sheer fragility of experience and feeling." - Colm Toibin
"Reminiscent of Marcel Schwob, Clarice Lispector, Roland Barthes and Lydia Davis." - Paris Review
>> Read an excerpt.
>> Walsh reads and talks
Things to Make and Break by May-Lan Tan         $28
The eleven stories in this book seem (quite reasonably and refreshingly) preoccupied with what may (to the mind at least) be termed ‘the body problem’, which is (of course) not a problem but a number of interrelating problems (or potentials) clustered around the disjunction between the kinds of relationships had by bodies and the kinds of relationships had by their correlated minds. Minds and bodies are subject here to differing momentums, and one bears the other away before the two can coalesce. Tan is concerned also with the interchangeability of persons, and with the contortion of persons, physically or psychologically, that enables this interchangeability. Whether it is twins who both fall in love with the same amnesiac, or the narrator of ‘Legendary’ who discovers photographs of her boyfriend’s previous partners in his drawer and becomes obsessed with one, an ex-aerialist once badly injured in a fall, stalking her and attempting to enter her experience using a playground swing, the stories have a raw elegance and precision and are full of intense and sometimes surprising images. 
Medieval Bodies: Life, death and art in the Middle Ages by Jack Hartnell       $55
Dripping with blood and gold, fetishised and tortured, gateway to earthly delights and point of contact with the divine, forcibly divided and powerful even beyond death, there was no territory more contested than the body in the medieval world. Hartnell investigates the complex and fascinating ways in which the people of the Middle Ages thought about, explored and experienced their physical selves, and the ways in which they left evidence of this. Beautifully illustrated. 
Shapeshifters: On medicine and human change by Gavin Francis          $37
What we think of as our selves is held in its precarity by contrary forces, some within our control, some not, some intrinsic to our natures, some visited upon us, which are constantly changing us. To be human is to be subject to innumerable tendencies to change. This book surveys, fascinatingly, some of the notable ones, both beneficial and malign. From the author of the excellent Adventures in Human Being
The Happy Reader #11              $8
A bookish interview with pop star Olly Alexander, and riffs (including from Deborah Levy) on the ramifications of the floricultural thriller The Black Orchid by Alexandre Dumas. 
The Inner Level: How more equal societies reduce stress, restore sanity and improve everybody's wellbeing by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett            $55
From the  authors of the hugely influential The Spirit Level, this new book looks at the horrendous impacts of inequality on the individual. 
Street Fighting Years: An autobiography of the sixties by Tariq Ali       $23
Ali revisits his formative years as a young radical. Through his own story, he recounts a counter history of the 60s rocked by the effects of the Vietnam war, the aftermath of the revolutionary insurgencies led by Che Guevara, the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring and the student protests on the streets of Europe and America. It is a story that takes us from Paris and Prague to Hanoi and Bolivia, encountering along the way Malcolm X, Bertrand Russell, Marlon Brando, Henry Kissinger, and Mick Jagger. 
The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder         $38
Today's Russia is an oligarchy propped up by illusions and repression. But it also represents the fulfilment of tendencies already present in the West. What will happen?
Plundering Beauty: A history of art crime during war by Arthur Tompkins        $70
War has always provided the opportunity for crimes either against art or against its established ownership structures. A well illustrated survey, from Classical antiquity to the present. New Zealand author. 
>> Tompkins talks with Kim Hill
Made in London: The cookbook by Leah Hyslop        $55
Every neighbourhood in London has its own cuisine. This book is the culinary London A-Z

A Reluctant Warrior by Kelly Brooke Nicholls      $30
A novel based on the author's experiences among ordinary people in remote areas of Colombia whose lives are impacted by the jostling between paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug cartels.
Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina      $28
A Pussy Riot member's account of her arrest, trial and imprisonment for feminist punk anti-State protests in Russia. 
"One of the most brilliant and inspiring things I've read in years. Couldn't put it down. This book is freedom." - Chris Kraus
"A women's prison memoir like no other! One tough cookie!" - Margaret Atwood
>> A short cut to Siberia

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh         $35
Three men washed up on the beach create a dreadful intrusion on the inhabitants of the island: three sisters and their mother. 
"Extraordinary.' - The Guardian

>> A review by Jessie Bray Sharpin on Radio New Zealand

The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat        $23
How has the same woman attracted the love of nine very-different people? In the absence of her own story, do their nine very-different accounts form a useful picture of the person at their centre? 

Hara Hotel: A tale of Syrian refugees in Greece by Teresa Thornhill        $33

A chronicle of everyday life in a makeshift refugee camp on the forecourt of a petrol station in northern Greece. In the first two months of 2016, more than 100,000 refugees arrived in Greece. Half of them were fleeing war-torn Syria, seeking a safe haven in Europe. As the numbers seeking refuge soared, many were stranded in temporary camps, staffed by volunteers like Teresa Thornhill.
In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black         $23
Tamara has been living on a star freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople - the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No-one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now - and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive.
Short-listed for the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
Sleepy Head: Narcolepsy, neuroscience and the search for a good night by Henry Nicholls         $37
Henry Nicholls's inability to stay awake led him into the world of sleep science. How bad is it really, not to get eight hours of sleep? What happens to our brain when we're sleep deprived? How much sleep should we really be getting?
Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper            $37
Newfoundland, Canada, 1992. When all the fish vanish from the waters, and the cod industry abruptly collapses, it's not long before the people begin to disappear from the town of Big Running as well. As residents are forced to leave the island in search of work, 10-year-old Finn Connor suddenly finds himself living in a ghost town. There's no school, no friends and whole rows of houses stand abandoned. And then Finn's parents announce that they too must separate if their family is to survive. But Finn still has his sister, Cora, with whom he counts the dwindling boats on the coast at night, and Mrs Callaghan, who teaches him the strange and ancient melodies of their native Ireland. That is until his sister disappears, and Finn must find a way of calling home the family and the life he has lost. From the author of Etta and Otto and Russell and James
Pale Rider: The Spanish flu of 1918 and how it changed the world by Laura Spinney          $28
With a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people and a global reach, the Spanish flu of 1918-1920 was the greatest human disaster, not only of the twentieth century, but possibly in all of recorded history. And yet, in our popular conception it exists largely as a footnote to World War I. Spinney recounts the story of an overlooked pandemic, tracing it from Alaska to Brazil, from Persia to Spain, and from South Africa to Odessa. She shows how the pandemic was shaped by the interaction of a virus and the humans it encountered; and how this devastating natural experiment put both the ingenuity and the vulnerability of humans to the test. The Spanish flu was as significant as two world wars in shaping the modern world; in disrupting, and often permanently altering, global politics, race relations, family structures, and thinking across medicine, religion and the arts.
Desert Solitaire: A season in the wilderness by Edward Abbey      $30
A 50th anniversary edition of this stunning classic of American nature writing, evoking the time Abbey spent in the canyonlands of Moab, Utah, a world of terracotta earth, empty skies, arching rock formations, cliffrose, juniper, pinyon pine and sand sage.
"My favourite book about the wilderness." - Cheryl Strayed
Freelove by Sia Figiel          $35
Inosia, a fan of science and Star Trek, accepts a ride to Apia from her favourite high school teacher to buy thread for White Sunday.  This sparks an intimate relationship between the two as they discover much more about each other through science, knowledge and love. A story about taboos, loyalty and the lingering impact of colonialism in Samoa. 
>> An interview with the author
>> "Reclaiming colonised attitudes towards the sexuality of Samoans."
Natural World: A compendium of of wonders from nature by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey         $40
Reads like a book of make-believe. The hook is: it is all true." - The New York Times

Designed in the USSR, 1950-1989       $60
This survey of Soviet design from 1950 to 1989 features more than 350 items from the Moscow Design Museum's collection. From children's toys, homewares, and fashion to posters, electronics, and space-race ephemera, each object reveals something of life in a planned economy during a fascinating time in Russia's history. 

>> Visit the Moscow Design Museum

Evening Descends Upon the Hills: Stories from Naples by Anna Maria Ortese          $23
The stories that inspired Elena Farrente's 'Neapolitan Quartet'. Beautifully translated by Ferrante's translator Ann Goldstein.

Balcony on the Moon: Coming of age in Palestine by Ibtisam Barakat     $20
An account for teen readers of the author's childhood and adolescence in Palestine from 1972-1981, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War.
Conundrum by Jan Morris        $25
A grippingly honest account of her ten-year transition from man to woman - its pains and joys, its frustrations and discoveries. First published in 1974. 

The Menagerie: An alphabet book by M.B. Stoneman     $30
A beautiful set of etchings with the feel of 17th century bestiaries. 
>> Click through and look at the etchings.

 The Goat by Anne Fleming       $19

A child names Kid and a dog named Cat live among the eccentric denizens of a New York apartment building. The goat lives on the roof. 

Inner City Pressure: The story of Grime by Dan Hancox           $33
DIZZEE RASCAL. WILEY. KANO. STORMZY. SKEPTA. JME. SHYSTIE. WRETCH 32. GHETTS. LETHAL BIZZLE. TINCHY STRYDER. DURRTY GOODZ. DEVLIN. D DOUBLE E. CRAZY TITCH. ROLL DEEP. PAY AS U GO. NASTY CREW. RUFF SQWAD. BOY BETTER KNOW. The year 2000. As Britain celebrates the new millennium, something fluorescent and futuristic is stirring in the crumbling council estates of inner city London. Making beats on stolen software, spitting lyrics on tower block rooftops and beaming out signals from pirate radio aerials, a group of teenagers raised on UK garage, American hip-hop and Jamaican reggae stumble upon a new genre. 
>> SKEPTA - 'No Security'.
People of Peace: Meet 40 amazing activists by Sandrine Mirza and Le Duo         $22
From Immanuel Kant to Rosa Luxemburg to Sophie Scholl to Joan Baez to Daniel Barenboim to Malala Yousafzai - meet 40 people who stood up for what they believed in to make the world a better place for all. 
The Last Interview, And other conversations: Hunter S. Thompson with David Streitfield          $35
He never took his foot off the accelerator. 
>> Hunter S. Thompson's America
>> Other 'Last Interviews'.

16/06/2018 09:14 PM

BOOKS @ VOLUME #79 (16.6.18). 

Our latest NEWSLETTER. Read our reviews and recommendations. Find out what's new. 

16/06/2018 09:07 PM


Luggage by Susan Harlan   {Reviewed by STELLA}
If you have a fascination for watching the bags on the carousel at the airport and wondering what is inside each and which belongs to whom, then you will find Susan Harlan’s Luggage a delight to read. Harlan, an English Literature associate professor at Wake Forest University, splices her accounts of travel, luggage and packing with cultural references from literature and film (the bizarre and poignant) to discuss our relationship with suitcases, bags, carry-alls, carry-ons, etc. Consider Jane Austen’s woes about the whereabouts of her trunk; Orhan Pamuk’s encounter with his father’s suitcase (filled with notebooks of writing), which reveals his father’s other self and of which they never spoke, revealing the schism between father and son; and Katherine Mansfield’s likening of humans to portmanteaux. Mary Poppins makes an appearance with her mysterious and infinitely producing carpet-bag from which anything one desires can emerge, while Anne of Green Gables’ similar-style bag (almost as physically empty) holds all in the world she owns. Harlan discusses what luggage is: does it include baggage, and at what stage do bags fall outside luggage or cargo? She looks at the origins of the various words that describe objects we pitch together and haul with us. Intriguing, thoughtful and littered with facts, Harlan's book looks at luggage through a variety of lenses. In the chapter 'Packing', she explores the industry - the numerous magazine articles, the books, the self-help videos - that will aid you to be or become the perfect packer. In 'My Luggage', she reveals her penchant for collecting bags and her love of vintage luggage. Her description of the clasps and the linings will make you look at your own suitcases with her observer’s eye, and may have you scouring the op shops for that special something. Finding a painting (now framed and hanging on her wall) in one suitcase, complete with a baggage label with name and address, gives her a piece of someone else’s history. Harlan looks at the meaning of luggage and historical happenings - what is left behind after disasters, what is abandoned, what can’t be taken, and what little might come with you when you are travelling unexpectedly - the absence of luggage when crisis impels people to flee with a perhaps only a cell phone and what they up stand in. Harlan takes a journey to Alabama to visit the Unclaimed Baggage Centre (a tourist attraction) - the place where all unclaimed lost luggage in America finally rests (ironically, the building neighbours a cemetery) and is sorted to saleable, good-enough-for-charity, or trashed. The lost luggage is purchased by the UBC sight-unseen, and bags are opened at 2:30 pm every day - 7000 new items daily. The bizarre and curious are kept in 'the museum', while the rest is sent to the appropriate department for display and sale. Only three laptops per visitors please - and lines of wedding dresses five deep make you wonder why these bags (0.5%) were never claimed from Lost Luggage departments of hotels, airports and bus stations. Harlan explores the meaning of objects that reside in our luggage, the physical objects and the weight these carry, but also those invisible burdens - our baggage. Neatly interspersed between the chapters is Harlan's account of her road journey with her orange suitcase and her dog cross-state to a Shakespeare conference - four days on the road and four at the hotel - what she packs, uses and returns with.Luggage is part of the 'Object Lessons' series from Bloomsbury. These are intelligent, amusing and thought-provoking long-form essays about the hidden lives of everyday things. Highly recommended.

16/06/2018 05:29 PM

Yes by Thomas Bernhard  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
With its pages-long sentences, fugue-like structure, claustrophobic physical and mental space and relentlessly tightening interiority, Yes is the (disconcertingly pleasurable) literary equivalent of a Chinese burn. In the first of the novel's two paragraphs, the narrator, who has moved (twenty years ago) to an unappealing rural district to write a work on antibodies (what else?) that he will never accomplish, is 'saved' from his hopelessness and depression, which have brought him at last to the point of suicide, by meeting a Persian woman, the partner of a Swiss engineer, at the house of a local real estate agent, and taking a walk with her in the forest, during which no actual conversation takes place but in which the narrator develops a feeling of deep affinity with the Persian woman. In the second paragraph, which I increasingly came to read as taking place entirely within the narrator's head, we 'learn' of the 'entirely upright' dealing of the real estate agent in selling the Swiss a piece of long-unsaleable waterlogged meadow for a high price, of the developing relationship between the narrator and the Persian woman, first into obsession and then disgust (a masterfully rendered portrayal of projection (we, and the narrator (if I read correctly) actually know nothing of the Persian woman)), the history of the Swiss/Persian couple which has led the Swiss to build an oppressive house in an oppressive place as an act of spite, and of the eventual suicide of the Persian woman (to which the Yes of the title refers) as a sort of surrogate for the narrator. As the narrator states on page 65: “If such a thought is present, it must be thought through to the end.”