18/03/2018 12:42 AM

BOOKS @ VOLUME #66 (17.3.18)

Read our latest NEWSLETTER of reviews, news and new releases. 

18/03/2018 12:10 AM

Our Book of the Week this week is Noémi Lefebvre's astounding novel Blue Self-Portraita single virtuoso looping interior monologue of a narrator caught up in regrets about her social failings and ambivalent impulses.

>> Read Thomas's review

>> Read an extract

>> Hear an extract read

>> The book is short-listed for the 2018 Republic of Consciousness Prize

>> A review by Eimear McBride in The Guardian

>> The book is published by the exemplary Les Fugitives, a press that  publishes only books written by award-winning, female, francophone writers who have previously not been translated into English. Visit their website

>> Other titles from Les Fugitives at VOLUME:
Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger (read Thomas's review)
Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi (read Thomas's review)
Translation as Transhumance by Mireille Gansel (just arrived!)

18/03/2018 12:10 AM


My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci  {Reviewed by STELLA}
Pajtim Statovci explores entrapment, isolation and dislocation through the two main characters in his debut novel, My Cat Yugoslavia. We meet Bekim - a disenchanted, lonely young man - as he surfs a gay chat room looking for a hook-up. His life as an immigrant - he came to Finland from Kosovo with his parents - is a series of incidents in which he tries not to be noticed and denies his past. At thirty he is living alone, estranged from his family, his closest relationship is with his pet, a boa constrictor, until he meets the audacious and, so Bekim thinks, irresistibly attractive Cat at a gay bar. The Cat, a highly unlikable fellow - arrogant, obnoxious, abusive -moves into Bekim’s flat and invades his controlled life. The second voice in this novel is Emine. The story travels back to 1980 rural Kosovo. Emine at sixteen dreams about a life devoid of the boredom and drudgery of her parents. She seems happy until the day it dawns on her that she isn’t a brilliant student, that she won’t be an actress and is unlikely to have any future apart from the dutiful wife. That this future comes so quickly in her life - she is spotted by the dashing Bajram and an arranged wedding is soon underway - is instantly beguiling (a whirlwind of rituals and gold jewellery) and ultimately terrifying. Bajram is the wolf in lamb’s clothing. Yet more violence is to come - the war, homelessness and the fleeing from Kosovo to Finland. Statovci splices the absurd, the comic and the tragic through these chapters and the voices of son and mother. The idea of a sleek, well-dressed Cat as an abusive interloper shouldn’t really work but it does, as an allegorical agent for aggression - racial and homophobic. The Cat is a tidy parallel to Emine’s husband Bajram - both are forceful, violent and righteous. While Bajram is controlling enough within the confines of his own culture and country, as a refugee the associated humiliations, lack of power and sense of belonging fuel the worst in his behaviour for both Emine and Bekim. Interestingly, the lives and loves of both mother and son run the same gauntlet - similar emotional minefields: they both crave a romantic love relationship based on an ideal, yet find themselves victims of abusive and controlling partners. Statovci like Bekim is Kosovo-born and lives in Finland and, unsurprisingly, his first novel draws on this fractured past. My Cat Yugoslavia draws away from other novels I’ve read set during the Yugoslav War, which have tended to focus on the chaos of the crisis and the abject behaviour of humanity. This novel focuses on the repercussions of war through generations: violence which impacts on the ability to form relationships. Bekim is a gay immigrant unable and unwilling to fit in. He is socially isolated, neither a Kosovar Albanian nor Finnish, not a Muslim yet fingered as different, bereft of a family. It is not surprising that he feels closest to a reptile, his boa constrictor. Emine's story is just as captivating - from her rural, naive beginning to her new life as a wife, and to the unexpected consequences of war - the spirited sixteen-year-old eventually rises again. Statovci writes with a light touch, curling intense emotion into crisp sentences and using the absurd to lead us through disarray.

18/03/2018 12:09 AM


Gaudy Bauble by Isabel Waidner  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
It is overwhelmingly, facetiously tempting to call Gaudy Bauble a detective novel, principally because it is one (a fake detective novel is just as much a detective novel as a non-fake one, if there can be such a thing as a non-fake detective novel). In Gaudy Bauble the detectives, so to call them, never actually detect anything, they never leave their flats (except for dental repairs, &c), they are effectively ineffectual, placebos, and, when the lost budgerigar that triggered the investigation, so to call it, returns, it is not due to any detecting on their part. “Is not detective work labelling work?” states a voice, presumably that of P.I. Belahg, a writer mainly not writing the script for a television series seemingly entitled Querbird, being filmed by Blulip, Belahg’s lesbian Gilbert-and-George-like double, a film-maker whose ideas change faster than they can be realised. The investigation gains no traction not because there is a lack of evidence but because there is too much. Everything is evidence of something (or of everything). The investigation gains no traction because it is too thorough. The details are too much evidence to amount to anything in particular, only to everything. Every detail, every association, every etymological permutation, every taxonomy, every history, every identity is interrogated and dissolved, every distinction is ruptured, the narrative, so to call it, constantly derailed by detail and by the refusal of detail to retain a fixed identity. In total flux, attributions and prescribed identities function as little more than costumes (clothes have more stable identities than persons), everything mentioned becomes activated by that mentioning, becomes a protagonist, pulls the plot, so to call it, towards it, off course, if it could be said ever to have had a course, or to be a plot. The world, after all, consists not of plot, which is always a fictive result of arbitrary interpretation of an unjustifiably normative kind, but of details, details about which little of certainty can be said without making similarly normative transgressions against their true nature, which lies not in identity but in momentum. In flux, in the tohubohu which is the natural state of all entities and from which entities become exiled at the moment they become entities, the state to which all entities long to return, the only certainty that can be maintained is that of momentum, if a certainty can be maintained at all. Gaudy Bauble retains all the excitement and pace and rigour of a detective novel. More and more characters appear, change names, blur their distinctions, overwhelm the narrative from locations in its margins or beyond: “There can never be too many crackpot agents. There could never be too much hyperactive riffraff interfering with events.” The dichotomy between the performative and the authentic is constantly ruptured, as if this dichotomy were a wall set to measure and constrain us, against which it is our nature to rebel, to seek release into illimitable inclusivity. The conflation of the performative and the authentic manifests in a doubling of entities, not only of P.I. Belahg and Blulip, but of the actual and the representation: budgerigar and statuette, tooth and denture, the characters and their appearances on the TV show Querbird. All categories are in flux. There may be a lost budgerigar, a broken tooth, statuettes, and so forth, but these categories are not exclusive of other categories, and tend always, by ontological clinamen, towards these categories. This ontology, since something must be said, or since the author, in choosing to write the novel, has put it about that something must be said in order for the novel to be written, makes language the territory in which this clinamen, this queerness in the nature of the particles, will in this instance be traced. All presences, all absences, all substances, all entities, all dissolutions, all metamorphoses, all wounds and all healing of wounds, are exercises of language, are both problems of language and solutions to these problems of language. Waidner, with nothing more constrained than hyperactive brilliance, somehow combines the register of Janet & John or the Teletubbies with that of specialist academic obscurantism without being anywhere between these poles, for only the extremes are worth conflating. At times there are similarities of rhythm with texts written under lipogrammatic or other artificial constraints, or with the lyric style of Mark E. Smith, or with impromptu dramatic performances using only the text of foreign-language phrasebooks (recommended). “Might sea urchin odontogenesis, fully understood, provide the biochemical tools to transform mainstream prosthodontics?” But, really, the book is quite unlike anything else, and is an exemplar of the sort of enjoyable and uncompromising queering experiment at the edge of literature and with the substance of literature itselfthat literature so desperately needs if it is to open new potentials within itself. When the novel comes to a (sort-of) end, new, more fluid entities have been achieved in a game of ‘real-life’ Exquisite Corpse, the budgerigar has returned, the momentum of the investigation has been expended. “The truth is the only thing left now. The truth ate everyone else alive.” 


18/03/2018 12:07 AM

The long list for the 2018 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE was announced this week. There are some excellent books included. Click through to find out more, and to read our reviews of several of them. 

18/03/2018 12:06 AM

Take a virtual tour of VOLUME. Click on the lenses to change your vantage point and to go outside (we are hiding behind the counter). 

16/03/2018 01:59 PM


Release these books and, with them, yourself.

The Fountain in the Forest by Tony White        $33
At once an avant-garde linguistic experiment, a thrilling police procedural, a philosophical meditation on liberty, and a counter-culture bildungsroman, The Fountain in the Forest takes a traditional crime narrative and undermines its every preconception, resulting in a head-spinning multi-leveled metaphysical wonder that loses none of the pace and intrigue of the pulp form upon which it is based. 
>> Chat.

Murmur by Will Eaves        $33
Taking its cue from the arrest and legally enforced chemical castration of the mathematician Alan Turing, Murmur is the account of a man who responds to intolerable physical and mental stress with love, honour and a rigorous, unsentimental curiosity about the ways in which we perceive ourselves and the world. 
"Murmur is a profound meditation on what machine consciousness might mean, the implications of AI, where it will all lead. It’s one of the big stories of our time, though no one else has treated it with such depth and originality." – Peter Blegvad
>> You can enthuse about this book in the snow.
>> Thomas reviews Will Eaves' The Absent Therapist
Gaudy Bauble by Isabel Waidner        $26
A hugely enjoyable, unstoppable and unconstrained excitation both of language itself and of its referents, social mores and particularities. 
"I'm besotted with this beguiling, hilarious, rollocking, language-metamorphosing novel. The future of the queer avant-garde is safe with Isabel Waidner." - Olivia Laing
Short-listed for the 2018 Republic of Consciousness Prize
>> The author reads an extract
>> Read an extract yourself
>> Interview
In the Dark Room by Brian Dillon      $40
"In the Dark Room is a wonderfully controlled yet passionate meditation on memory and the things of the past, those that are lost and those, fewer, that remain: on what, in a late work, Beckett beautifully reduced to 'time and grief and self, so-called'. Retracing his steps through his own life and the lives of the family in the midst of which he grew up, Brian Dillon takes for guides some of the great connoisseurs of melancholy, from St Augustine to W. G. Sebald, by way of Sir Thomas Browne and Marcel Proust and Walter Benjamin. The result is a deeply moving testament, free of sentimentality and evasion, to life's intricacies and the pleasures and the inevitable pains they entail. In defiance of so much that is ephemeral, this is a book that will live." - John Banville, 
Empty Set by Veronica Gerber Bicecci      $32
Can relationships be understood in terms of set theoryHow do you draw an affair? A family? Can a Venn diagram show the ways overlaps turn into absences? Can tree rings tell us what happens when mothers leave? Can we fall in love according to the hop and skip of an acrostic? Empty Set is a novel of patterns, its young narrator's attempt at making sense of inevitable loss, tracing her way forward in loops, triangles, and broken lines. 
"Bicecci's experimental novel takes a unique approach to topics like debilitating loneliness, political repression, and epistemological crises." - Publisher's Weekly
>> "A visual artist who also writes." 
>> The author's website.
Translation as Transhumance by Mireille Gansel        $32
"In this memoir of a translator’s adventures, Mireille Gansel shows us what it means to enter another language through its culture, and to enter the life of another culture through its language. A sensitive and insightful book, which illuminates the difficult, and often underestimated task of translation—and the role of literature in making for a more interconnected and humane world." – Eva Hoffman
"A history not just of twentieth century poetry but of that dark century itself, from the rise of the Nazis to the American bombing of North Vietnam, and yields too a rare insight into the nature of language and the splendours and limitations of translation." – Gabriel Josipovici
On Imagination by Mary Ruefle         $18
"It is impossible for me to write about the imagination; it is like asking a fish to describe the sea." Ruefle, despite this, provides an most approachable primer to her natural element. 

Samuel Beckett is Closed by Michael Coffey      $38
After reading only Beckett for three years, Coffey splices together his ruminations on the writer and his works with media accounts of torture and terrorism, occurrences in his own life and speculations on the nature of literary fame to create a fractured but prismatic work in which casts light in all directions and demonstrates how Beckett's work continues to be a useful thinking tool for the ailments of modern life. The work is structured according to a sequence laid out by Beckett in his notes to the unpublished 'The Long Observation of the Ray'. 
"Coffey’s book speaks to how contemporary writers might stage an unmaking and remaking of form, serving as an ethical reminder of authorial limitations and of the porousness between the worlds we create and the political reality in which we live. By breaking rules of genre and narrative, by embracing experimental form, Coffey’s work raises questions about how contemporary artists might work to resist the status quo through a subversive, fragmentary style that makes it impossible for us to look away from our political reality. Now, more than ever, we have much to learn from Beckett." - Los Angeles Review of Books
The Largesse of the Sea-Maiden by Denis Johnson          $40

"All the slipshod magnificence and crazy wonder of the late, venerated American writer are present in this posthumous collection of short stories." - Observer
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons          $23
A lively novel exploring the complex interplay of grief, race and gender, national and individual identities, and the struggle to personhood in a society whose currency is labels. 
"Penetratingly good and written in vivid still life - wonderfully chromatic, transfixing and bursting with emotion. Zinzi Clemmons's novel signals the emergence of a voice that refuses to be ignored." - Paul Beatty
"Luminescent. Sometimes fierce and angry, other times quiet and tender." - Independent 
The Last Wolf by Laszlo Krasznahorkai     $23
Written in one virtuosic 73-page sentence which exerts enormous pressure on language to make it more closely resemble thought and which makes form the primary content of this novella, The Last Wolf tells of an academic who is commissioned to travel to Extremadura in Spain where he seeks to determine the fate of the last wolves in that barren area. We read his relation to a Hungarian bartender in Berlin of the accounts of Extremadurans made to him via a translator (and usually based in any case on further hearsay), nesting the subject of the story in several layers of reportage, rumour and translation, the performative complexity of which is repeatedly punctured by the offhand comments of the bartender. Krasznahorkai, as usual, succeeds in being both comic and morose, this hopeless tale of human destruction and the frustrating impassivity of nature is one in which meaning is both invoked and withheld much like the presence of the last elusive wolf (or, rather, much like the story of the last wolf, for it is  narrative that is the true quarry for the hunter). Herman, the other novella in this book, was written earlier in Krasznahorkai’s career, yet deals with many of the same themes. The two versions, reminiscent at times of Kafka, tell of a master trapper whose disgust at his calling is turned upon his own species as the compounding of his exterminations creates a momentum from which neither he nor others can be released. What remains but the consequential force of past actions when their rationale has proven spurious?
>> Also available: lovely hardback
The Arrow that Missed by Ted Jenner      $20
Slipping between verse and prose but maintaining perfect cadence, Jenner's poems are steeped in the ethos of the Classical Greece of which he is a scholar, but address the contemporary, the personal and the particular with a tenderness and an intimacy from which pathos and tragedy are never far distant. 
"It is a labyrinthine house of language with many rooms that Jenner inhabits and what he finds there is never less than (ordinarily) surprising and provocative." - Michael Harlow
Outsiders: Five women writers who changed the world by Lyndall Gordon       $38
Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner, Virginia Woolf: 'outsiders', 'outlaws', 'outcasts'. A woman's reputation was her security and each of these five lost it (to the benefit of posterity). 

Plants Taste Better: Delicious plant-based recipes, from root to fruit by Richard Buckley       $55

"Cooking plants is a uniquely different art from cooking meat or fish - it requires not only a solid grounding in traditional cooking techniques, but also a deeper understanding of new techniques specific to plant based cookery." Nicely presented. 
The Man Who Would Not See by Rajorshi Chakraborti     $38
As children in Calcutta, Ashim and Abhay made a small mistake that split their family forever. Thirty years later, Ashim has re-entered his brother's life, with blame and retribution on his mind. It seems nothing short of smashing Abhay's happy home in New Zealand will make good the damage from the past. At least, this is what Abhay and his wife Lena are certain is happening.
"In his fifth novel, Indian-born, New Zealand-based author Rajorshi Chakraborti skilfully amps up the tension, showing how easily fear can shove reason out the window, even in smart, seemingly self-aware people.It's an absorbing, gripping read that is ultimately about the importance of family and the emotional labour required to create deep, honest connections." - New Zealand Listener
"A compelling book about the dislocation of belonging, geography, culture and, ultimately, memory." - Dominion Post
>> Read an extract.
>> An interview with the author. 
Psychoanalysis: The impossible profession by Janet Malcolm      $25
What is psychoanalysis? Why do people become analysts? Why do people visit analysts? Can psychoanalysis help anyone? What risks does it pose to both patient and analyst?
My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum-Cleaner, A family memoir by Meir Shalev         $30
A charming tale of family ties, over-the-top housekeeping, and the sport of storytelling in Nahalal, the village of Meir Shalev's birth, where her Jewish grandmother settled when moving from Russia to Palestine in 1923. 
The King is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcón      $23
An affecting collection of stories, all concerning the results of forced migration and the convergence of fates in New York. 

 Rāwāhi by Briar Wood       $25
Short-listed for the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards (poetry section). 
The Telescope in the Ice: Inventing a new astronomy at the South Pole by Mark Bowen          $37
Since 2010, at the geographic South Pole, 'IceCube', a cubic kilometer of clear ice a couple of kilometers below the surface has been used to detect extraterrestrial high-energy neutrinos and provide new data about the universe. Neutrino astronomy is an exciting field, still in its infancy.  
Trajectory by Richard Russo      $37
A collection of short stories, extending the range of the author of Everybody's Fool (and, indeed, Nobody's Fool). 
"Thoughtful and soulful. Trajectory will abruptly break your heart. That's what Richard Russo does, without pretension or fuss, time and time again." - New York Times
Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone       $20
A story about an eagle huntress, an inventor and an organ made of icicles, but also a story about belonging, even at the very edges of our world.
Flora Magnifica: The art of flowers in four seasons by Makoto Azuma and Shunsuke Shiinoki      $70
A stunning, luscious book of unusual flower arrangements, a collaboration between a flower artist and a botanical photographer. Come and see this book. 

Peonies by Jane Eastoe       $45
We like peonies. There are over 50 varieties photographed and described in this book. 
Look What You Made Me Do by Helen Walmsley-Johnson        $38
A book that will do much to raise awareness of psychological abuse within relationships. 
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg            $28
First published in 1824, this novel is not only a savage psychological portrayal of religious hypocrisy and fanaticism but, in its exploration of identity-supplanting doubles, unreliable narrators and embedded narratives, prefigured many of the concerns of the post-modern novel. Memorable. 
The End of Epidemics by Jonathan D. Quick        $38
Dr Quick considers looming epidemics to be the greatest current threat to humanity, but he prescribes a way they can be avoided.

Tomorrow by Elisabeth Russell Taylor        $23
A Jewish refugee living in London returns every year to the Danish island of Møn where her family once had idyllic holiday homes and where, absorbed in their own happiness, for too long they ignored the gathering storm of antisemitism in their German home town. A subtly affecting and nicely structured novel.
Song of the Dolphin Boy by Elizabeth Laird      $20
Finn feels a much stronger affinity with the dolphins off Stromhead than with his fellow humans. Can he help both, and find a place for himself? 

Grandma Z by Daniel Gray-Barnett        $30
Albert's life is very constrained and, well, boring, until his Grandmother Z whisks him off on her motorcycle on a wonderful adventure. 

16/03/2018 10:19 AM

The short lists for the OCKHAM NEW ZEALAND BOOK AWARDS have just been announced. The winners will be announced on 15 May.
Acorn Foundation Fiction PrizeThe New Animals by Pip Adam (VUP);Salt Picnic by Patrick Evans (VUP); Sodden Downstream by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson); Baby by Annaleese Jochems (VUP). 
PoetryAnchor Stone by Tony Beyer (Cold Hub Press); Night Horse by Elizabeth Smither (AUP); Rāwāhi by Briar Wood (Anahera Press); The Yield by Sue Wootton (Otago UP). 
Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-FictionDancing with the King: The rise and fall of the King Country, 1864-1885 by Michael Belgrave (AUP); Tears of Rangi: Experiments across worlds by Anne Salmond (AUP); Drawn Out: A seriously funny memoir by Tom Scott (Allen & Unwin); Driving to Trebrinka: A long search for a lost father by Diana Wichtel (Awa Press). 
Illustrated Non-FictionTuai: A traveller in two worlds by Alison Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenkins (Bridget Williams Books); Tōtara: A natural and cultural history by Philip Simpson (AUP); Gordon Walters: New vision by Zara Stanhope et al (Auckland Art Gallery & Dunedin Public Art Gallery); The Face of Nature: An environmental history of the Otago Peninsula by Jonathan West (Otago UP). 

16/03/2018 10:18 AM

The long list for the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Baileys Prize) has just been announced. There are some excellent books included. Click through to make your choice. 

12/03/2018 11:18 AM

50 writers and artists (Lydia Davis, Sarah Vowell, Sarah Manguso, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Diane Williams, Jesse Ball, Sheila Heti, Carrie Brownstein, Etgar Keret, Jonathan Lehtam, Valeira Luiselli, Heidi Julavits, Sherman Alexie, &c, &c, &c, &c, &c, &c) have contributed to this week's Book of the Week, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #50the bumper 50th issue of one of the most interesting outlets of good writing from America.  

>> Read Stella's review.      

>> Enjoy McSweeney's Internet Tendency.  

>> A fuller list of contributors

10/03/2018 09:01 PM

BOOKS@VOLUME #65 (10.3.18)

Our latest newsletter of reviews and recommendations. 

10/03/2018 08:56 PM


McSweeney's #50 edited by Dave Eggers  {Reviewed by STELLA}
McSweeney’s literary magazine, founded by author Dave Eggers, has been publishing a quarterly for over twenty years. What started as a magazine that only published work that had been rejected from the mainstream journals has developed into an institution of experimental and intriguing short pieces and comic art. Issue 50 is a salute to the short story, to the importance of publishing new work and giving exposure to new writers. While this issue, which was a call-out to 50 writers to submit new work, includes some well-known names (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jonathan Lethem, Lydia Davis, Sheila Heti), the writing from them is fresh and unexpected. And there are plenty of new authors to discover. Steven Millhauser’s 'Thank You for Your Patience' will resonate for anyone that ever been on hold for an inordinate period of time, while Sherman Alexie’s tale of a romantic woe on a pizza delivery job pay packet serves us a slice of farcical reality. Romance also raises its head in Haris.A.Durrani’s excellent and pithy 'Forty-Two Reasons Your Girlfriend Works for the FBI, CIA, NSA, ICE, S.H.I.E.L.D., Fringe Division, Men in Black, or Cylon Overlords'. Workplace frustrations are central to Dan Kennedy’s removable one-page tirades, 'Please Clean the Kitchen, Please Refill the Paper Tray and Please Reserve Conference Room Ahead of Time', will be at home on all office walls. Jesse Ball and Brian Evenson’s darkly funny 'Deaths of Henry King' has a nod to Edward Gorey’s alphabet book, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and Jeff Parker’s 'Hero' will make you laugh and squirm. Collections are always tricky things and some works are stronger than others, yet this one will have you dipping back in to discover and enjoy. From the reversible, folded cover (it becomes a poster if desired) to the short short story by Sarah Manguso (an author that you should seek out more work of) on the front board to the delights in experiencing so many writing styles in one volume, this is a gem of current American short story writing. 

10/03/2018 08:55 PM


Jeaslousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
The only reality is the present moment, and the only certainty about that is that it is the present moment, constantly assailed as it is by the fantasies of the past and the future, each of which presents itself as an imitation present, a simulacrum differing either more or less from the present it seeks to replace. In retrospect, the present and the futures and pasts that assailed it are not different in kind and become hopelessly entangled, whatever geometry we apply to the task of considering it, undermining certainty and leaving us only with an endlessly loopable - and inescapable - experience of a present without any of the qualities of this present being fixed or certain. The unnarrated narrator of Jealousynarrates repeatedly a limited sequence of events: the presence of their neighbour Franck in the house he shares with the character referred to as A…, the interactions of Franck and A…, about which the narrator is uncomfortable and which culminate in the arrangement for Franck to take A... with him on his trip to the port town some hours drive from the tropical banana plantation in which they live, and also the return of Franck and A… the next day, having had to stay the night in the town apparently on account of Franck’s car having broken down. As much as possible, the narrator has excied himself from the narrative. He is only a point of observation and is careful to betray no agency. He is of course implied by his narration (ironically, A… eludes the geometry of his descriptions (even her name remains an elipsis), the very descriptions that ensnare the narrator (despite his best efforts)), even, possibly, implicated by his narration. The narrative restricts itself to the present tense and to ‘objective’ detail, so to call it. As the narrator goes over and over the sequence of events (very much in the way he describes the overheard song of one of his drivers: “These repetitions, these tiny variations, halts, regressions, can give rise to modifications - though barely perceptible - eventually moving quite far from the point of departure.”), he allows, little by little, more evidence (so to call it) about what he suspects to be A…’s relationship with Franck to slip into the narrative. Detail puts a brake on the narrative, slowing its approach to trauma, but it is also the vector of that trauma. The details, the repetitions, become tighter and tighter around the trauma, like white blood cells clustering around the trauma. The narrator suspects A… and Franck of something that he cannot bear to think about but is obsessed with all the same. The precision of miniscule detail given about Franck’s pocket, from which protrudes, despite Franck’s best efforts to hide it, the corner of a piece of blue notepaper upon which A… was observed writing something earlier and which A… has presumably handed him after sending the narrator indoors for ice for their drinks, is an exemplar of the way in which detail can be used to control the pace and focus of the reader’s attention, as well as demonstrating how psychological weight can inform and distort objective description (an oxymoron). The narrator’s uncertainty about A… (her smile “can be interpreted as derision just as well as affection, or the total absence of feeling whatever.”) and about her relationship with Franck leads him to obsess over detail, which, under this sort of pressure, becomes unstable. “It’s no use making up contrary possibilities, since things are the way they are: reality stays the same,” states the narrator, but his repetitions begin to contradict themselves, first positing potentials (“A… may have put her face into the opening above the seat” after getting out of Franck’s car) and then assailing what we have previously ‘known’ (Franck crushing the centipede in A…’s bedroom rather than in dining room, Franck approaching A…’s bed, Franck’s car exploding in an accident), these alternative presents evidently constructed out of the narrator’s jealousy and bringing into question the actuality of his other observations. Everything is a play of images, interchangeable with other images, precision no guarantee of actuality. The port to which Franck takes A… has no more reality than the picture of the port on the calendar on the wall, or, rather, these realities contend with each other for the attention that will fulfill them. The present is inescapable, though it may be endlessly iterated and altered when relived in memory. The distinction between experience and memory is destabilised, the narrative chopped and repeated and discontinuous like memory. We are presented simultaneous contraries. The narrator both creates and erases the mark of the catastrophe, the trace, the stain of the centipede, the letter, the bloodstain (surely not...), the memory. In this endlessly iterated and permuted remembered present, at what point might an imagined future (also experienced as a present) begin to insert itself and start to drag the narrative, disengaged now from an actuality that is uncertain, off onto a branch that is more an expression of psychology than of so-called reality? Is it possible, even, that the entire narrative, from beginning to end, in all its permutations, takes place in the narrator’s frantic mind as he waits in A…’s room for her return from the port? As the narrator observes of A…’s and Franck’s discussion of a novel that the narrator has not read, “The variations as extremely various; the variations of these, still more so.”

09/03/2018 04:15 PM


An introduction to some of the new titles that arrived this week. Click through to find out more, and to reserve your copies. 

The Holidays by Blexbolex        $35
At the end of the summer, a girl spends time at her grandfather’s place in the countryside. Then an unexpected guest arrives, who the girl doesn’t like. Through images and the characters’ actions, the book tells the story of those few days and what happens - it's about the assumptions we make that aren’t always right.
"An entirely new, wholly different form of bewitching visual storytelling." - Brainpickings
>> An interview with Blexbolex.

The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi Sapoka         $37
How easy is it for a woman to blaze her own creative path? Ivory Frame escapes her aristocratic family to interwar Paris, where she becomes an artist of the Surrealist set. Many years later she is working on her last masterpiece and looking back over her life. A novel inspired by the life of Leonora Carrington
"The Dictionary of Animal Languages is such a special book, suffused with an almost painterly intelligence. Sopinka's characters experience the world with an intensity we associate with children and visionaries. Watching them navigate the difficulties of the humdrum and the glamorous both is a distinctive, if unsettling, pleasure." — Rivka Galchen
"Not only a dictionary of animal language, but also an atlas of the human heart, Heidi Sopinka's gorgeous debut novel maps the difficult territory between history and memory, love and loss." —Johanna Skibsrud
All This by Chance by Vincent O'Sullivan            $35
"If we don't have the past in mind, it is merely history. If we do, it is still part of the present." A thoughtfully written novel tracing the trauma of the Holocaust and of unspoken secrets through three generations of a family, crossing between Britain and New Zealand. 
The Territory is Not the Map by Marilia Garcia        $22
The distance between territory and map, the distance between a journey and the language used to write about it, the distance between one language and another - there is no straight line to measure any of this. A sequence of poems from one of the most exciting contemporary poets writing in Portuguese. 
>> Read a sample poem

After the Winter by Guadelupe Nettel       $40
When a shy young Mexican woman moves to Paris to study literature, this begins to move the loom upon which the relationships of many people are woven. 
"Nettel creates marvellous parallels between the sorrows and follies of her human characters and the creatures they live with." - New York Times
"The gaze Nettel turns on madness both temperate and destructive, on manias, on deviances, is so sharp that it has us seeing straight into our own obsessions." - Le Monde

Spring by Karl Ove Knausgaard          $38

The third of Knausgaard's seasonal quartet covers one day in that season (13 April 2016) in the life of a man and his newborn daughter, a day filled with its own particulars but also manifesting the weight of the past, especially of something that happened in Summer nearly three years before. 
Wanted: The search for the modernist murals of E. Mervyn Taylor edited by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith       $80
New Zealand artist E. Mervyn Taylor was not only an internationally influential wood engraver. During the burgeoning of New Zealand nationalist-cultural focus in the 1960s he produced a dozen murals for government and civic buildings. Some were later destroyed or covered over. This book records the search for a distinctive artistic legacy. 
Maybe Esther by Katja Petrowskaja          $35
From Berlin to Warsaw to Moscow to Kiev, Petrowskaja's search for her family's twentieth-century history encompasses a great-uncle sentenced to death for shooting a German diplomat, a grandfather who disappeared during World War 2 and reappeared forty years later, and a great-gandmother, maybe named Esther, who, being too frail to leave Kiev when the Jews rewe being rounded up, was shot by the Nazis outside her home. 
"Rarely is research into family history this exciting, this moving. If this were a novel it would seem exaggerated and unbelievable. This is great literature." - Der Spiegel
"There's a literary miracle on every page here. There's poetry and politics in this family memoir, but most of all there's the pleasure of being in the company of Petrowskaja's talent. A Proust for the Google age." - Peter Pomerantsev
Anchor Stone by Tony Beyer        $40
Beyer's poetry has a clarity and space that allows meaning and association to orbit the lines and create patterns of resonance indicative of hitherto inaccessible levels of experience, both of society and the natural world. 
Short-listed for the poetry award in the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

The Facts by Therese Lloyd         $25
Poetry and relationships pull against each other, or buoy each other, in this collection of poems set against a failing marriage and an assertion of artistic vitality. 
He's So Masc by Chris Tse       $30
An acerbic, acid-bright, yet unapologetically sentimental and personal reflection on what it means to perform and dissect identity, as a poet and a person.
>> Sample!

Dear Oliver: Uncovering a Pakeha history by Peter Wells        $40
Well's discovery of a cache of letters among his elderly mother's effects led him to unravel the many strands of his family's history, and to find very personal experiences of the war against Te Kooti, the Boer War, the Napier earthquake, the Depression, class fluidity, personal and collective crises and AIDS. 

Pasture and Flock: New and selected poems by Anna Jackson      $35
Pastoral yet gritty, intellectual and witty, sweet but with stings in their tails, the poems and sequences collected in Pasture and Flock are essential reading for both long-term and new admirers of Jackson’s slanted approach to lyric poetry.

>> Read a sample. 
Object-Related Ontology: A new theory of everything by Graham Harman       $24
The world is clearly not the world as manifest to humans, says Harman: "'To think a reality beyond our thinking is not nonsense, but obligatory." At OOO's heart is the idea that objects - whether real, fictional, natural, artificial, human or non-human - are mutually autonomous. This core idea has significance for nearly every field of inquiry which is concerned in some way with the systematic interaction of objects, and the degree to which individual objects resist full participation in such systems. 
Fathers and Sons by Howard Cunnell         $25
As a boy growing up on the south coast of England, Howard Cunnell's sense of self was dominated by his father's absence. Starting with his own childhood in the Sussex beachlands, Cunnell tells the story of the years of self-destruction that defined his young adulthood and the escape he found in reading and the natural world. Still he felt compelled to destroy the relationships that mattered to him. Cunnell charts his journey from anger to compassion as his daughter Jay realizes he is a boy, and a son.
"There is so much aching love in this book, such pain and beauty." - Tim Winton
"Dazzlingly beautiful. This is truly heart-stopping writing." - The Financial Times
The Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorensen         $35
It's 1969 and a remote coastal town in Western Australia is poised to play a pivotal part in the moon landing. Perched on the red dunes of its outskirts looms the great Dish: a relay for messages between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas. Crouched around a single grainy set, radar technician Evan Johnson and his colleagues stare at the screen, transfixed. Watching all this, and narrating this novel, is a caged bird, a galah named Lucky. 
"Warm and smart." - The Australian
Future Sex: A new kind of free love by Emily Witt        $25
How does the internet, personalised technology and shifts in ideas of empowerment, individuality and transpersonal identity alter the way we think and act about sex? Does this make it any easier or any harder to integrate or separate sex and love? 

Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2018 edited by Jack Ross      $35
Work from featured poet Alistair Paterson and a raft of established and emerging poets, as well as essays on poetics and reviews of collections published in the last year. 
Maori Oral Tradition / He Korero no te Ao Tawhito by Jane McRae       $45
A good overview of the resources and potentials of oral literature. 
Look at Me by Mareike Krugel         $37
Katharina's husband isn't coming home for the weekend - again - so she's on her own. When their chaotic daughter Helli has a nosebleed, Kat has to dash off to school to pick her up. Then their son, Alex, announces he's bringing his new girlfriend home for the first time. Kat's best friend from college is coming around tonight too, and she's wondering if she should try to seduce him - but first she needs to do the shopping, the vacuuming and the laundry, deal with an exploding clothes-dryer, find their neighbour's severed thumb in the front yard and catch a couple of escaped rodents. When she's got all that sorted, perhaps she'll have time to think about the thing she's been trying not to think about - the lump she's just found in her breast. Because you can't just die and leave a huge mess for someone else to clean up can you? And wasn't there supposed to be more to life than this?
Gone to Pegasus by Tess Redgrave        $35
It's Dunedin 1892, and the women's suffrage movement is gaining momentum. Left to fend for herself when her husband's committed to the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, 23-year-old Eva meets Grace, an outspoken suffragist with an exotic and mysterious past. As the friendship between the two women grows through a shared love of music, Eva begins questioning the meaning of her marriage and her role as a woman. But Grace has a bullying husband and secrets she's been keeping from Eva, which could threaten the freedom both women find themselves fighting for.

Divided: Why we're living in an age of walls by Tim Marshall      $38
In an age when mass communication links us across the globe, why are we increasingly reinforcing the barriers, both literal and figurative, between us. 

Look, a Butterfly! by Yasunari Murakami       $15
A white butterfly lands on many different coloured flowers. What happens when it lands on a cat? 
A Way With Words: A memoir of writing and publishing in New Zealand by Chris Maclean       $50
The great-grandson of New Zealand publishing pioneer George Whitcombe, Maclean has been responsible for a number of outstanding books about place, history and the outdoors in New Zealand, including Tararua: The story of a mountain range (1994), John Pascoe (2003), Stag Spooner: Wild Man from the Bush (2012), Tramping: A New Zealand History (2014), Kapiti (2000), Wellington: Telling Tales (2005) and Waikanae (2010). This book gives good insight into the New Zealand publishing industry. 
In Search of Consensus: New Zealand's Electoral Act 1956 and its constitutional legacy by Elizabeth McLeay        $40
In a series of backroom negotiations in 1956, the National Government and Labour Opposition agreed to put aside adversarial politics temporarily and entrench certain significant electoral rules. For any of these rules to be amended or repealed, Section 189 of the Electoral Act (now Section 268 of the 1993 Act) requires the approval of either three-quarters of all MPs or a majority of electors voting in a referendum. The MPs believed this entrenchment put in place a 'moral' constraint to guide future parliaments, but its status has changed over time. In Search of Consensus tells the story of why and how such a remarkable political settlement happened. It traces and analyses the Act's protected provisions, subsequent fortunes and enduring legacy. 
Bizarre Romance by Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell        $48
A quirky collection of graphic or illustrated short stories charting many different types of love, with many different outcomes. 

"The book has much to say about the beauty and devastation of seeking companionship in any given human life. The collaboration is winningly strange.” — Publishers Weekly
London in Fragments: A mudlark's treasures by Ted Sandling        $28
What sort of story can be told of a city based on the detritus found in the mud on the banks of the river that runs through it? Very well illustrated. 
Dancing Bears: True stories of longing for the old days by Witold Szablowski       $38
Why is it that some citizens of once-Communist countries exhibit such nostalgia for how they used to live? Perhaps for the same reason that dancing bears liberated into the wild will still raise themselves up on their hind legs when they see humans. 
>> It's not easy running a retirement home for old dancing bears
The Yark by Bertrand Santini and Laurent Gapaillard     $20
The Yark loves children. More precisely, this hairy monster loves to eat children: ham of boy, orphan gratin, schoolchild puree, breaded babies, girl rillettes. But he has a problem: his delicate stomach can only tolerate the flesh of nice children; liars give him indigestion. There are not nearly enough good, edible children around to keep him from starvation. Then the Yark finds delicious, sweet Madeleine. Will he gobble her up? Or will she learn how to survive?

07/03/2018 03:26 PM

A selection of 
compiled for International Women's Day (8.3.18).
Discover a new author.
The Complete Stories by Leonora Carrington         $38
“Carrington’s stories are optimistic and nihilistic, beautiful and grotesque, tender and cruel. She never contented herself with something simple or trite.” - Sheila Heti
“Her stories are vivid, funny and surprisingly fresh, combining satire with surrealist situations to deftly mock the pomposity of organized religion, sexual repression or the endless forms of bureaucratic hypocrisy and ineptitude.” - The New York Times
>> Leonora Carrington at VOLUME.
Inside Madeleine by Paula Bomer       $32
A collection of raw but unflinching stories, all examining the complexities of women's relationships with and through their bodies.
"Bomer offers her characters no outs only the creeping sense that they're doomed to swing forever between futile attempts at self-determination." - The New York Times
 "Reading Paula Bomer is like being attacked by a rabid dog - and feeling grateful for it. This is some of the rawest and most urgent writing I can remember encountering." - Jonathan Franzen

Black Ice Matter by Gina Cole        $32
A collection of short stories exploring connections between extremes of heat and cold. Sometimes this is spatial or geographical; sometimes it is metaphorical. Sometimes it involves juxtapositions of time; sometimes heat appears where only ice is expected. In the stories, a woman is caught between traditional Fijian ways and the brutality of the military dictatorship; a glaciology researcher falls into a crevasse and confronts the unexpected; two women lose children in freak shooting accidents; a young child in a Barbie Doll sweatshop dreams of a different life; secondary school girls struggle with secrets about an addicted janitor; and two women take a deathly trip through a glacier melt stream. These are some of the unpredictable stories in this collection that follow themes of ice and glaciers in the heat of the South Pacific and take us into unusual lives and explorations.
"Aotearoa New Zealand has yet to hear a voice as striking as this one from its Pasifika diaspora: Fijian-infused, queer-inflected, and crafted with legal precision." - Selina Tusitala Marsh
The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook       $37
When her mother, a former slave, is killed by the panther that also leaves herself disfigured, Samantha crosses the Texan frontier with her brother Benjamin, and, with an unlikely posse, seeks revenge on this implacable and unknowable force of nature. 

Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton        $37
Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, was a poet, philosopher, essayist and playwright in the 17th century. Eccentric, erratically shy but desiring of fame, she was both shunned and celebrated by the aristocracy and the thinkers of the time. Dutton’s fictional account of this fascinating character is lively and absorbing. 
"A small miracle of imaginative sympathy." - Guardian
>> A Description of the New World, Called the Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish
>> An introduction to her philosophical work.

Not One Day by Anne Garréta         $30
An intimate exploration of the delicate connection between memory, fantasy, lover and desire, written under strict OuLiPian constraints: a tour de force of experimental queer feminist writing. 
Winner of the Prix Médicis.
"For Garréta, it may just be possible that the body occupies the space of language so powerfully as its capacity to produce it." - BOMB

Roxy by Esther Gerritsen          $35
When Roxy's husband and his lover are killed in a car accident, Roxy will not be denied her revenge. Who will she direct this at, though?Written in a concise, lucid style, this book is a clear exploration of the emotional weight grief and anger lever upon ordinary details. 
Gerritsen's skillful writing creates tension with its forward-propelling relentless plot, a compelling awkward narrator and uncertain outcomes. The clever ironic conversations between the characters and zany happenings hit you like a slap, while what is unsaid, what is hinted at and implied between the words and lines on the page, jolts you awake. Like CravingRoxy is a candid portrayal of damage and trauma, sometimes shocking, often blackly funny.
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti         $27
This book is at once an excoriating self-examination, a pitiless self-satire (although it may in fact not be as satirical as it seems to be) and an unforgivably self-indulgent exercise in self-exposure (and is these things all at once and not by turns). You will be irritated by Sheila, but she is irritating in pretty much the same way that you are irritating to yourself, and you will grow tired of Sheila, but in the same way that you grow tired of yourself. You will put the book aside, but, without really knowing why, you will keep coming back to it in pretty much the same way you keep coming back to vaguely important but imprecise and somewhat irritating aspects of your own life. Sheila nobly asks herself “How should a person be?”, and gets the same unsatisfactory, earnest and ridiculous answers as you would get if you asked yourself the same impossible question. The book contains passages of painful honesty and vapid bullshit (both at the same time, mostly), and beautiful, sad and hilarious passages, too (again, beautiful, sad and hilarious all at once and not by turns). By asking big questions in a life that contains only small answers, Sheila holds herself up to show us that we don’t know how to be, or how to make our lives the way we want them, or even to know what we want with any sureness or consistency. 
Baby by Annaleese Jochems           $30
"Sultry, sinister, hilarious and demented, Baby blazes with intelligence and murderous black humour. Heavenly Creatures for a new generation." – Eleanor Catton
"Patricia Highsmith meets reality TV in this compelling debut. Jochems nudges up the tension until we can’t bear to look – and can’t bear to look away: thrilling, dangerous and deliciously funny." – Catherine Chidgey 
"This funny, sexy, unnerving novel challenges received ideas and delivers jolts of pleasure and disquiet throughout. Jochems, like her extraordinary creation Cynthia, is a force to be reckoned with." –Emily Perkins
>> "The best novel of 2017." - Spinoff

Short-listed for the 2018 Acorn Prize in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards
Mildew by Pauline Jonguitud      $26
On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, a woman finds a green spot on her pubis. She scrapes at it half-heartedly but fails to remove it and it rapidly spreads over her lower body, a sort of mould or fungus about which she seems strangely not distressed but even seems to become rather fond of. As she wanders about her house, she wanders also through her memories, particularly concerning her niece, with whom she shares a name (and all the literary doubling that that implies), and the switching of her husband’s affections from the older to the younger Constanza. The further the mildew spreads, the less grip the narrator has on the habitual patterns of her life, or, rather, the less she is gripped by them, and the more her memories are shown to be arbitrary, partial, unreliable, self-seeking (or self-harming). As the mildew spreads, the reader, too, finds their grip on facts loosened and the psychological forces which underlie the narrative send filaments up through the pores in the surface of reality and softly overwhelm both its momentum and its meaning. Despite the great psychological weight carried in this book it is written very lightly and directly, with a sharp pen and not a wasted word, and the damp claustrophobia of the narrator’s mind is perfectly expressed, as is the release she (sort of) experiences as the mould or fungus becomes a symptom and externalises whatever it is that it is a symptom of.   
When I Hit You: Or, A portrait of the writer as a young wife by Meena Kandasamy      $28
Seduced by politics, poetry and an enduring dream of building a better world together, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor. Moving with him to a rain-washed coastal town, she swiftly learns that what for her is a bond of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealised version of an obedient wife, bullying her and devouring her ambition of being a writer in the process, she attempts to push back - a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape. At once the chronicle of an abusive marriage and a celebration of the power of art, this is a smart, fierce and courageous take on traditional wedlock in modern India.
"It would take Carol Ann Duffy, Caroline Criado-Perez, Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie to match Kandasamy's infinite variety." - Independent 
I Love Dick by Chris Kraus        $23
First published in 1997, long before Knausgaard and Heti, this novel was a well-placed detonation beneath the wall dividing memoir and fiction. Ostensibly an account of Kraus’s all-consuming middle-aged crush on a man she has met only briefly and who has seemingly done nothing to encourage her obsession, the first half of the book consists of a hilarious compilation of letters addressed to ‘Dick’ by Kraus and her husband, with whom she plays a hugely ironic game of cultural and psycho-social toe-to-toe positioning. Following the delivery of the great mass of letters to ‘Dick’, Kraus and her husband separate and Kraus continues to pursue the passive ‘Dick’, who remains a tabula rasa for her projections, until he becomes little more than a ‘dear diary’ figure, recipient of essay-letters concerning art and cultural theory. Kraus pursues her ‘crush’ through a maze of received social constructs and gender-role expectations with a snide irony that both deepens and ridicules the pathos of her rather abject attempts to ‘possess’ ‘Dick’. A letter from the ‘real’ Dick at the end implies that the liaisons recounted in the second half of the book are entirely fictional, and that Kraus has used her projected ‘Dick’ as a sort of catalyst to examine and make changes in her personal and artistic life. In any quest for authenticity, each manifestation of the personal is a struggle with the demands of form. Here, Kraus forces the bourgeois genre of the epistolary novel to burst from interior pressure to allow the first person to penetrate from the letters into the more empowering narratorial frame.
Moonbath by Yanick Lahens         $30
A Haitian family is burdened by a curse lasting generations. This novel gives insight into the lives of disenfranchised women in the Caribbean. 
"Lahens describes her country with a forceful beauty - the destruction that befell it, political opportunism, families torn apart, and the spellbinding words of Haitian farmers who solely rely on subterranean powers." -Donyapress
Winner (in French) of the Prix Femina, 2014. 

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride        $30
Very occasionally you come across a book that impresses itself upon you so heavily that the next several books you read seem contrived and inconsequential by comparison. Eimear McBride’s story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, the on-going impact of his childhood brain tumour, their mother’s hysterical Catholicism and the narrator’s increasingly chaotic and self-annihilating sexuality is tremendously affecting because of the highly original (and note-perfect) way in which the author has broken and remade language to match the thought-patterns of the narrator. Short sentences like grit in the mind, snatches of unassimilable experience, syntax fractured by trauma, the uncertain, desperately repeated and painfully abandoned attempts to wring a gram of meaning or even beauty out of compound tragedy, to carry on, both living and telling, despite the impossibility of carrying on, situate the reader right inside the narrator’s head. This book is upsetting, intense, compassionate, revelatory, unflinching, and sometimes excoriatingly funny. It gives access to what you would have thought inaccessible. 
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado        $28
Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A sales assistant makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the dresses she sells. A woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest.
"Carmen Maria Machado is the best writer of cognitive dysphoria I’ve read in years. " - Tor
"Life is too short to be afraid of nothing." - Machado

Oreo by Fran Ross         $28
A playful, modernised parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery. First published in 1974. 

"A brilliant and biting satire, a feminist picaresque, absurd, unsettling, and hilarious, Ross' novel, with its Joycean language games and keen social critique, is as playful as it is profound. Criminally overlooked. A knockout." Kirkus
The Rending and the Nest by Kaethe Schwehn       $27
When 95 percent of the earth's population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: she cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can't afford to lose. Four years after the Rending, Mira's best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object - and other women of Zion follow suit- the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray.

Black Wave by Michelle Tea      $32
Desperate to quell her addiction to drugs, disastrous romance, and nineties San Francisco, Michelle heads south for LA. But soon it's officially announced that the world will end in one year, and life in the sprawling metropolis becomes increasingly weird.While living in an abandoned bookstore, dating Matt Dillon, and keeping an eye on the encroaching apocalypse, Michelle begins a new novel, a sprawling and meta-textual exploration to complement her promises of maturity and responsibility. But as she struggles to make queer love and art without succumbing to self-destructive vice, the boundaries between storytelling and everyday living begin to blur, and Michelle wonders how much she'll have to compromise her artistic process if she's going to properly ride out doomsday.
"I worship at the altar of this book. A keen portrait of a subculture, an instant classic in life-writing, a go-for-broke exemplar of queer feminist imagination, a contribution to crucial, ongoing conversations about whose lives matter, Black Wave is a rollicking triumph." - Maggie Nelson
The Complete Madame Realism by Lynne Tillman       $35
Through her use of her fictional character Madame Realism, Tillman devised a new genre of writing that melded fiction and theory, sensation and critical thought, disseminating her third-person art writer's observations in such magazines as Art in America and in a variety of art exhibition catalogs and artist books. Two decades after the original publication of these texts, her approach to investigation through embodied thought has been absorbed by a new generation of artists and writers. Provocative and wholly pleasurable, Tillman's stories/essays dissect the mundane with alarming precision.
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas            $35
In an increasingly plausible dystopian future America, women's reproductive rights have been overturned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers.
"Leni Zumas here proves she can do almost anything. Red Clocks is funny, mordant, baroque, political, poetic, alarming, and inspiring -not to mention a way forward for fiction now." - Maggie Nelson
"A lyrical and beautifully observed reflection on women's lives." — Naomi Alderman, The New York Times
>> Read an extract
>> Keri Hulme is an object of her gratitude

03/03/2018 10:40 PM

BOOKS @ VOLUME #64 (3.3.18).

Read our NEWSLETTER and find out what we've been reading, what new books have arrived this week, about next week's Book of the Week, and about our forthcoming poetry course.

03/03/2018 10:09 PM

Book of the Week: If Apples Had Teeth by Milton and Shirley Glaser
If apples had teeth, they would bite back. If trees were pink, they would be nevergreens. This silly, inventive picture book illustrated by the outstanding graphic designer of the protopsychedelic era will make your brain turn somersaults. Each page presents a counterfactual situation, encouraging children to speculate about their world in a playful way. Art, poetry and meaning are all profitably generated from nonsense, and a creative life can be achieved by learning to look at the familiar in fresh ways. A facsimile of the original 1960 edition, the book is exquisitely produced and printed (on just the right paper stock!), and is the perfect addition to the shelf of either an imaginative child or anyone interested in period design. Sometimes the counterfactual is counter-counterfactual (how liberating!): If a zebra wore striped pajamas, you would never know. {T}

>> Also in stock (and new): Posters by Milton Glaser. From the early psychedelic work to recent production, with Glaser's own commentary, this book marks half a century at the forefront of graphic design. 

>> Visit Glaser's studio

>> To inform and delight

>> Milton Glaser's website

>> "Great design makes ideas new."

03/03/2018 10:08 PM


The Alarming Palsy of James Orr by Tom Lee  {Reviewed by STELLA}
This strange gem of a book will leave you laughing and unsettled. James Orr, successful project manager, father and husband, wakes one morning to find himself oddly changed. Something is amiss. The victim of Bell’s Palsy, he’s told nothing much can be done, that time will see him right. Unable to speak coherently and looking a little disturbing, he takes sick leave. Now he’s at home, confined to the idyllic New Glades Estate, a housing development of forty-eight identical homes surrounded by ancient woodland, with views over the woods and north to the city skyline, a neighbourhood committee and perfect for the model family. As James’s affliction lingers longer than expected he finds himself depressed and anxious. Work, a central part of his existence, carries on without him, with his projects farmed out to colleagues. His family is self-reliant: his wife not only carries on with her roles but picks up his as well as James sleeps through the days and is weirdly wired and wakeful at night. As the days go by, his behaviour becomes more erratic. He gets ousted from his chair role on the residents' committee and takes to wandering the paths of the woodland. His friends and neighbours treat him with either pity or suspicion. The novel is searingly funny, poking fun at the model urban lifestyle and the small power-plays of the neighbourhood hierarchy. But what is really wrong with James Orr? His marriage is already at a crisis point, his work is meaningless and his relationships with those around him superficial. At some point, he’s become redundant or the world has become something that moves around him. The former structure of his days is no longer relevant as he sees himself sidelined by his illness. From being a fully occupied member of his world he’s been pushed to the sidelines to the point at which he is looking in as though through an opaque glass. Tom Lee’s The Alarming Palsy of James Orr is a fascinating description of a man pushed aside by an affliction. Whether this is a purely physical or a psychological one, the reader will be the judge. Lee gives us a searing jolt in the final pages - one that will make you start reading again, looking through a different lens.  

03/03/2018 10:06 PM

Ice by Anna Kavan  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
The progressive limitation of the habitable world by advancing cliffs of ice constitutes the only real development in Anna Kavan’s final, uncomfortable, remarkable novel, Ice. In what passes for, or stands in for, a plot, and with what pass for, or stand in for, characters, an unnamed man pursues an unnamed woman in endless iterations. He finds her everywhere he looks but the closer he gets to her the harder she is to see. The ‘girl’ (as he refers to her) is never more than a projection, inaccessible to the fantasist, objectification without object, idealised victim for his fantasies of violent possession. “She always appeared as a helpless victim, her fragile body broken and bruised. There dreams were not confined to sleep only, and a deplorable side effect was the way I had come to enjoy them.” The ‘girl’ is mostly ‘kept’ by either her husband or a by man known as ‘the Warden’, themselves plausibly projections of the narrator, their cruelty towards her the outward expression of the narrator’s desires until such time as he can assume these cruelties for himself. Until such time, the narrator cannot manage to be anything but an observer. He is ineffectual, pursuing the ‘girl’ but incapable of closing the gap between them, eschewing opportunity at the last moment. The actions taken by others are projections of his desires, desires that obliterate the ‘girl’, although she is perhaps less obliterated by projection and objectification than she is a dimensionless creation of that projection and objectification. “It was clear that the Warden regarded her as his property. I considered that she belonged to me. Between the two of us she was reduced to nothing: her only function might have been to link us together. I felt an indescribably affinity with him, a sort of blood-contact, generating confusion, so I began to wonder if there were two of us.” The pursuit and abuse of the ‘girl’ is narrated in countless iterations and variations, some of which would be inaccessible to the narrator unless they are his fantasies or the husband and the Warden are his projections. Many of the narrative branches terminate, perhaps at the girl’s death, leaving the narrative to return and pick up at an earlier point, the slipped stitches undermining the reader’s trust of the text. Just as there are no characters as such who could fulfil the reader’s expectations of characters by manifesting either depth or change, there is no plot development, the narrative endlessly overwriting itself, reinforcing, obscuring and reinforcing itself in a palimpsest written ultimately on the body of the girl, the receiver of wounds. The entire work constitutes an exposition of a deplorable psychological pattern that pervades swathes of literature and society. The narrator avows his role, he feels cheated when others harm the girl: “I was the only person entitled to inflict wounds.” The girl, so to call her, represents “a passive attitude, suggestive both resistance and resignation.” The narrator both exemplifies and abhors his role as oppressor, he envies the peaceful song-filled life of the gentle indris lemurs, about whom he is writing a study, but he knows that their life is beyond his reach: “I knew that my place was here, in our world, under sentence of death, and that I would have to stay here and see it through to the end. I was committed to violence and must keep to my pattern.” The girl’s tears “did not seem like real tears. She herself did not seem quite real. She was pale and almost transparent, the victim I used for my own enjoyment in dreams.” The girl is not real, she is constituted by violence, she loathes the world of the lemurs, anathematic to the complex of which she and her many-faced oppressor are the exemplar. The characters have no history or purpose other than to enact the disease they represent. The narration, in the first person, is a vehicle for an impersonal subjectivity. The repeated eruption of the unconscious into the narrative destroys causality and character and makes development impossible, leaving the narrative curiously disengaged, reminding me somewhat of Kafka’s The Castle. The characters are at once both subject and object, incapable of gaining traction when traction is most intended, animated by suppressed mechanisms that underlie much of literature and art. As the book progresses the walls of ice close around the narrator and the girl, drawing them closer together, “a sheet of sterile whiteness spreading over the face of the dying world, burying the violent and their victims together, obliterating the last trace of man and his works.” Very occasionally in the book, the reality of the ice is destabilised, such as when the narrator glimpses the town he is in, not in ruins and being crushed by ice but bathed in sunshine. The ice is not so much the ice of Ballardian cli-fi, though it is this too, but moves with the force of metaphor (encroaching ice is a motif often experienced by ‘Arctic explorers’ such as Kavan who have long-term heroin addictions (forty years in her case (Kavan identified with the fatally doomed, passive girl in this novel (she also lived for almost two years in New Zealand, acutely aware of her proximity to the Antarctic ice)))). As the ice comes nearer, the girl becomes yet “thinner and paler, more transparent, ghostlike. It was interesting to watch.” When all else has been obliterated by the ice, the narrator and the girl are finally forced into actual contact in a beach house surrounded with wilted palm trees covered in rime. Kavan then provides three endings on top of each other: does the narrator pursue the girl into the ice, where they perish; does he attack her and leave her for dead; or does he reform (“I wondered why I had waited so long to be kind to her”) and flee with her towards the last unfrozen, equatorial zone? This last ‘happy’ option is so implausible as to finally erase the narrator, who retains only the reassuring weight of the gun in his pocket. 

02/03/2018 04:01 PM


They're new.
The Book of Chocolate Saints by Jeet Thayil     $33
What is it like, and what are the costs (to oneself and to others), for someone to live an artistic life without compromise? Told is a wide range of voices and styles, this is a remarkable novel in which the margins of life in modern India dissolve into something even stranger. From the author of the Booker-short-listed Narcopolis
"This novel is a rich harvest. It moves with the strange and flawless certainty of a dream. It is superbly written and its madness is also its strength." - Edna O'Brien
>> "I have a liver condition, I'm reckless and I'm very aware that time is limited." 
>> 15 reasons not to become a poet
Walking to Jutland Street by Michael Steven        $28
Steven's gifts as a poet include the ability to isolate ordinary details as connective routes between times, places and modes of experience. His poems bristle with the particulars of life in the shabby backstreets of Dunedin, but pull with them an allegorical load of illuminating subtlety. 

The Customer is Always Wrong by Mimi Pond         $55
A lightly fictionalised graphic memoir describing a young artist's experiences working in a diner frequented by drunks, junkies, thieves and creeps. 
Pond will be appearing during Writers Week at the New Zealand Festival this month. 

Vitamin D2: New perspectives in drawing    $70
The absolutely new edition of Vitamin D is packed with recent examples of artists pushing at the edges of the medium. 
The Debatable Land: The lost world between Scotland and England by Graham Robb        $40
A fascinating history of the independent territory that, from the 13th to the 17th centuries, resisted (bloodily) integration into either Scotland or England. 
Robinson by Peter Sís      $30
Books by Peter Sis are always beautifully and distinctively  illustrated. In Robinson, a boy who is shunned by his classmates for dressing as his hero Robinson Crusoe instead of as a pirate like everyone else, persists with enjoying what makes him special until his classmates  are attracted to it too. 
The Progress of this Storm: Nature and society in a warming world by Andreas Malm          $35
Debunks the idea that there is no longer such a thing as nature as distinct from society, or that such a distinction no longer matters. Quite the contrary: in a warming world, nature comes roaring back, and it is more important than ever to distinguish between the natural and the social. Only with a unique agency attributed to humans can resistance become conceivable. From the author of the remarkable Fossil Capital, which examined the links between our economic system and the climate crisis. 
All the Devils Are Here by David Seabrook         $28
Seabrook's accounts of his wanderings around the Kentish coast forces English culture to roll over and reveal its dark underbelly. 
"I guess you'd call it psychogeography, though this doesn't begin to capture its intense interest, its uncanny spookiness, the way it ensnares you, turning your stomach, messing with your head. A fugitive sort of book, twitchy and mournful, All the Devils Are Here demands to be reread, picked over, endlessly discussed - and yet to know it is somehow not to know anything at all." - Observer"An alternate English history." - Iain Sinclair
The Art Treasure Hunt: I spy with my little eye by Doris Kutschbach       $32
Finding the details in these iconic paintings will enable young children to approach artwork fully open to its rewards. 

The Expatriate Myth: New Zealand writers and the colonial world by Helen Bones        $35

Did the writers who left New Zealand during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries need to do so to achieve success? What was the nature of their connections to the New Zealand they left behind? What was the experience of those who returned? 

The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi     $22
One girl links beasts with humankind. She has the power to save them both. Or to destroy them. Erin's family have an important responsibility: caring for the fearsome serpents that form the core of their kingdom's army. So when some of the beasts mysteriously die, Erin's mother is sentenced to death as punishment. With her last breath she manages to send her daughter to safety. Alone, far from home, Erin soon discovers that she can talk to both the terrifying water serpents and the majestic flying beasts that guard her queen. This skill gives her great powers, but it also involves her in deadly plots that could cost her life. 
Europe's Fault Lines: Racism and the rise of the right by Liz Fekete         $39
"For twenty-five years, Fekete relentlessly monitored Europe's far right while the continent's leaders preferred to look away. With right-wing extremism finally recognised by the mainstream as a fundamental threat to Europe's future, her indictment of those who enabled, amplified, and aided the rise of the hard right is an essential contribution to the defense of democratic values." - Arun Kundnani

The Great Cowboy Strike: Bullets, ballots and class conflicts in the American West by Mark Lause        $43

Although later made an icon of 'rugged individualism', the American cowboy was a grossly exploited and underpaid seasonal worker, who waged a series of militant strikes in the generally isolated and neglected corners of the Old West.

Folk by Zoe Gilbert      $37
On the island of Neverness, youngsters battle through mazes to secure kisses from local girls, a baby is born with a wing for an arm, strangers arrive in the middle of the night, and inhabitants fashion fiddles to play the music of their grief.
"I was thoroughly absorbed. Zoe Gilbert's invented folk-world is sensuous and dangerous and thick with magic." - Tessa Hadley

The Cook's Atelier: Recipes, techniques and stories from our French cooking school by  Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini      $60
A good introduction to authentic French cooking techniques. 
>> Here they are
>> And here

What's Cooking? by Joshua David Stein and Julie Rothman         $23
In answering a lot of silly questions about what can and cannot be done in the kitchen, rather a lot of useful information about cooking is conveyed. A funny and attractively illustrated introduction to kitchen culture for young readers. 
>> Some spreads here
The Rending and the Nest by Kaethe Schwehn       $27
When 95 percent of the earth's population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: she cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can't afford to lose. Four years after the Rending, Mira's best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object - and other women of Zion follow suit- the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray.
The Walkabout Orchestra: Postcards from around the world by Chloe Perarno      $28
The orchestra have somehow got scattered around the world. Can you help the conductor to use the clues on their postcards to find them and get them all together? 
The Burning Time: The story of the Smithfield Martyrs by Virginia Rounding         $25
In Tudor times, heretics, either Protestant or Catholic depending on the wind of current orthodoxy, were relieved of their lives at Smithfield (later to become the famous meat market). 
"Deeply researched and fascinating." - Spectator

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson          $17
Every year on St Stephen's Day, Wren Silke is chased through the forest in a warped version of a childhood game. Her pursuers are judges - a group of powerful and frightening boys who know nothing of her true identity. If they knew she was an augur - their sworn enemy - the game would be up. This year, the tension between judges and augurs is at breaking point. Wren's survival, and that of her family, depends on her becoming a spy in the midst of these boys she fears most and using her talent, her magic, to steal from them the only thing that can restore her family's former power for good.
The Crisis in Physics by Christopher Caudwell       $23
What are the lines of connection between scientific theory and economic realities? Caudwell’s controversial book offers an astute and enduring diagnosis of the maladies of bourgeois epistemology.
Flamingo Boy by Michael Morpurgo         $25
Set in the unique landscape of the Camargue in the South of France during WW2, this book tells the story of a young autistic boy who lives on his parents' farm among the salt flats, and of the flamingos that live there. There are lots of things he doesn't understand: but he does know how to heal animals. He loves routine, and music too: and every week he goes to market with his mother, to ride his special horse on the town carousel. But then the Germans come, with their guns, and take the town. Everything changes. 
Enlightenment Now: The case for reason, science, humanism and progress and progress by Steven Pinker        $40
Can a reassertion of humanist rationalism help us to overcome our current woes? 
"Words can hardly do justice to the superlative range and liveliness of Pinker's investigations." - Independent
Marxism and the Philosophy of Science by Helena Sheehan       $23
"A singular achievement. Sheehan is masterful in her presentation of the dialectics of nature debates, which begin with Engels and recur throughout the periods covered by this book." - Science and Society
Posters: 450 examples from 1965 to 2017 by Milton Glaser       $50
From the early psychedelic work to recent production, with Glaser's own commentary, this book marks half a century at the forefront of graphic design. 
>> He's got a website

Ada Lovelace by Isabel Sanchez Vergara      $23
A picture book to introduce young readers to this pioneer of computing (1815-1852). 
Pick a Flower: A memory game by Anna Day       $22
Match the flower cards with the flower history cards. 
Chineasy for Children: Learn 100 words by ShaoLan Hsueh and Noma Bar      $30
A wonderful pictorial introduction to Chinese characters. 
>> The method is superb.  
>> The Chineasy website
Dress Like a Woman: Working women and what they wore by Vanessa Friedman and Roxane Gay        $40
An illustrated look at the interplay of gender and dress in the workplace. 
>>"Dressing like a woman means wearing anything a woman deems appropriate and necessary for getting her job done." (excerpt)
>> Men wore clothes to work, too. 

For a Little While by Rick Bass         $28
New and selected stories from the 30-year career of this American master acutely aware of the uneasy impact of humans on the natural world. 
Sustainable Architecture from The Plan          $100
A detailed investigation, including floor plans, elevations and diagrams, of responses to specific locational demands around the world. 

Myth Match: A fantastical flip-book of extraordinary beasts by Good Wives and Warriors       $35
Mix and match halves of fantastical beasts from around the world to make new fantastical beasts. Fun.
>> Sample pages

24/02/2018 07:40 PM

Are you at home in a book?

Read our latest NEWSLETTER.
BOOKS @ VOLUME #63 (24.2.18)

24/02/2018 07:19 PM

Is it preferable to love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? Our Book of the Week this week is The Only Story by Julian Barnes. 

>> Read Stella's review

>> "Time, love and the slippery nature of memory."

>> Julian Barnes on the art of fiction

>> Julian chats with Clive

>> "Barnes writes with such shattering emotional acuity."

>> Thoughtful answers to interesting questions from Spanish students

>> The author's website

>> Mixed doubles, a long tradition

>> Julian Barnes at VOLUME

24/02/2018 06:54 PM

The Only Story by Julian Barnes  {Reviewed by STELLA}
If you enjoyed Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending, then you should put his latest novel high on your list (and if you haven’t read either, do). The Only Story describes a relationship, a love story, over several decades. Like in The Sense of an Ending, we enter the head of a man looking back at his relationship from its inception to an end he would not have prescribed. Paul is nineteen, home from university during the summer months and bored by the suburban dulldom in finds himself stuck in. When his mother suggests joining the local tennis club, he does it with a sense of irony, hardly expecting to meet anyone who isn’t a ‘Charlotte or a Hugo’ as he aptly titles the local players. But a mixed double competition sees him paired with the captivating Mrs Susan Macleod. “We are facing one another. I feel at the same time baffled and at ease. She is wearing her usual tennis dress, and I find myself wondering if its buttons undo, or are merely ornamental.” The first part of this book recalls their meeting and subsequent progression to the status of lovers. Told in both the older man’s voice looking back (with all its accumulated knowledge) and from the younger Paul’s perspective, Barnes allows us a glimpse into Paul’s naivety and the rush of first love coupled with dismissive asides to the reader from Paul the older. “The time, the place, the social milieu? I’m not sure how important they are in stories about love.” There are the heartfelt confusions and passions of a young man in a relationship with a woman thirty years his senior juxtaposed with Paul’s unwillingness or inability to reveal all from the privilege of hindsight, with his sometimes flippant commentary. "I never kept a diary...So I'm not necessarily putting it down in the order that it happened. I think there's a different authenticity to memory and not an inferior one. Memory sorts and shifts according to the demands made on it by the rememberer". A much less able writer wouldn’t pull this off, but for Barnes it is seamless. The second part of the book looks at Paul's and Susan's life together as a couple in London. Susan has left her husband, but never goes as far as divorcing him or sorting out their shared property. We are never told why she retains her ties to this marriage, one which occurred more out of convenience or duty than love, yet as the story unfolds we get a glimpse of the reasons. Paul's and Susan’s story is a love story like any other, yet there are cracks in the veneer. Susan is a mystery in many ways to Paul, yet, obsessively in love and fiercely loyal, he is either oblivious or unwilling to see aspects that don’t fit his ideal of Susan. When he does, this is torment, and his inability to help her drives him to abandon their relationship. In the third part, we meet Paul - a successful middle-aged man who holds himself emotionally apart, contemplating the opening lines of this book, “Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question”. 

24/02/2018 06:53 PM

Concrete by Thomas Bernhard   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
In a single wonderful book-length hysterical paragraph, Rudolph, Bernhard’s narrator, a middle-aged invalid both incapacitated by and sustained by his neuroses, obsessed with writing his great work on the composer Mendelssohn Bartholdy but of course incapable of even beginning to write, neurasthenically procrastinating and irritated, riven by every possible ambivalence, unable to write whilst his sister is visiting and unable to write unless she is present, hating his sister but dependent upon her, needing his home but stifled by it, rants about everything from making too many notes to the idiocy of keeping dogs. Bernhard’s delineation of an individual whose interiority and isolation has attained the highest degree is flawless, devastating and very funny. No sooner has Rudolph made a categorical assertion than he begins to move towards its opposite: after describing the cruelty of his sister towards him, we become increasingly aware of her concern for him and his mental state; no sooner does he attain the solitude of his grand Austrian country home (soon after the book opens he makes the categorical assertion, “We must be alone and free from all human contact if we wish to embark upon an intellectual task!”, a common fallacious predicate that one commonly inclines towards but which subverts one’s ends (he follows this swiftly with another self-defeating assertion: “I still don’t know how to word the first sentence, and before I know the wording of the first sentence I can’t begin any work.”)) than he is absolutely certain that he must travel to Palma if he is to write his book on Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Towards the end of the book, we learn that Rudolph did indeed go to Palma, where he is writing this account (instead of his work on Mendelssohn Bartholdy) after learning of the recent suicide of a young woman he had met there on a previous occasion following the death of her husband (who was discovered fallen onto concrete beneath their hotel balcony). Such was the isolation of Rudolph’s interiority that he was incapable of taking timely action to help the unfortunate young woman, though it was easily within his means to do so, incapable of making authentic human contact, stifled by his own ambivalences and self-obsession (the undeclared ironic tragedy being that he may possibly have returned to Palma in order to help the young woman but that he is of course too late, her suicide triggering the self-excoriation that comprises the book).

23/02/2018 06:06 PM

How to Write
Sometimes you need more than a pencil and paper.
Come and browse our display of books on writing, or click through to reserve the books you need. 
Syllabus: Notes of an accidental professor by Lynda Barry     $35
A very enjoyable set of writing classes presented graphically, especially good for those who appreciate the cross-fertilising potential of visual and verbal creativity. 

How to Write Like Tolstoy: A journey into the minds of our greatest writers by Richard Cohen        $22
"This book is a wry, critical friend to both writer and reader. It is filled with cogent examples and provoking statements. You will agree or quarrel with each page, and be a sharper writer and reader by the end." - Hilary Mantel
Literature Class by Julio Cortázar       $40
Cortazar's novels and short stories ignited a whole generation of Latin American writers, and had an enthusiastic following through the Americas and Europe. In this series of masterclasses he discusses his approach to the problems and mechanisms of fiction writing: the short story form, fantasy and realism, musicality, the ludic, time and the problem of 'fate'. 
"Anyone who doesn't read Cortazar is doomed." - Pablo Neruda

The Very Short Story Starter: 101 flash fiction prompts for creative writing by John Gillard         $35
Useful and fun, this workbook will help you think about your writing in different ways, and find ways to incorporate it into your daily routines. 
The Situation and the Story: The art of personal narrative by Vivian Gornick          $32
In a story or a novel the "I" who tells this tale can be, and often is, an unreliable narrator but in nonfiction the reader must always be persuaded that the narrator is speaking truth. How does one pull from one's own boring, agitated self the truth-speaker who will tell the story a personal narrative needs to tell?
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr       $35
"Karr is a national treasure-that rare genius who's also a brilliant teacher. This joyful celebration of memoir packs transcendent insights with trademark hilarity. Anyone yearning to write will be inspired, and anyone passionate to live an examined life will fall in love with language and literature all over again. " - George Saunders

I Should Be Writing: A writer's workshop by Mur Lafferty       $23
Prompts! Exercises! Encouragement!

>> Podcasts!

Write to the Point: How to be clear, correct and persuasive on the page by Sam Leith          $33
Writing effectively is partly a matter of not making common mistakes and partly a matter of learning a few key skills. 
Write to the Centre: Navigating life with gluestick and words by Helen Lehndorf     $35
On the use of collage journaling to prepare the mind for writing. 
Juicy Writing: Inspiration and techniques for young writers by Brigid Lowry      $24
Doodle, daydream and discover your creativity - then write hard into the wild land of your imagination. 
Letters to a Young Writer: Some practical and philosophical advice by Colum McCann        $25
Create Your Own Universe: How to invent stories, characters and ideas by The Brothers McLeod        $25
Young creative types can use this book to accelerate their ideas for stories, animations, graphic novels, films, books, &c (and have a lot of fun, too). 

Draft No.4: On the process of writing by John McPhee         $37
A very useful guide for writers, especially on the aspects of a work, such as structure, that should go unnoticed by the reader. 
>> Read an excerpt. 
"A master class in writing. Every sentence sparkles. A superb book." - Kirkus 
"Matchless teaching from a master of the form—seductive, trustworthy and endearingly modest." - Helen Garner 

Children's Writer's Notebook: 20 great writers and 70 writing exercises by Wes Magee        $23
Notable for its range of writing exercises devised specifically for those writing for children.
The Exercise Book: Creative writing exercises from Victoria University's Institute of Modern Letters edited by Bill Manhire, Ken Duncum, Chris Price and Damien Wilkins      $35
Fifty writing exercises and countless triggers. Great stuff. Includes contributions from Elanor Catton, Curtis Sittenfeld, Emily Perkins, David Vann, Elizabeth and Sara Knox, Dora Malech and Kirsty Gunn. 

The Kite and the String: How to write with spontaneity and control - and live to tell the tale by Alice Mattison         $35
"An insightful guide to the stages of writing fiction and memoir without falling into common traps, while wisely navigating the writing life, from an award-winning author and longtime teacher.
A book-length master class." - The Atlantic 
Writing True Stories: The complete guide to writing autobiography, memoir, personal essay, biography, travel and creative non-fiction by Patti Miller       $40

The Story Cure: A book doctor's pain-free guide to finishing your novel or memoir by Dinty W. Moore         $35
A pharmocopoeia of cures for writer's block, plotting and characterization issues, and other ailments writers face when completing a novel or memoir, prescribed by the director of creative writing at Ohio University.

The Fuse Box: Essays on creative writing from Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters edited by Emily Perkins and Chris Price           $35
Contributions from James Brown, Elizabeth Knox, Tina Makereti, Damien Wilkins, Bill Manhire, Charlotte Wood, Ashleigh Young and Hera Lindsay Bird.

Daemon Voices: Essays on storytelling by Philip Pullman         $38
Interesting and enjoyable considerations of storymaking from the author of 'His Dark Materials', 'The Book of Dust', 'Sally Lockhart', &c. 

Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau         $25
Take one small banal story about a man on a bus and a remark about a button, and rewrite it ninety-nine times according to different constraints, from sonnet to antiphrasis, from onomatopoeia to metaphor, from Dog Latin to double entry, from the gastronomical to the abusive, and you come up with a book that is inventive, erudite and very funny. Raymond Queneau is a verbal acrobat of the first order. Reading this book is to attend a circus of rigours - be prepared to be exhilarated.
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke       $3
Advice on writing, love, sex, suffering, writing (again) and the nature of advice. 
Reality Hunger: A manifesto by David Shields         $30
“Who owns the words? Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do. All of us. Though not all of us know it, yet. Reality cannot be copyrighted.” At once iconoclastic and appropriative (most of the book is comprised of unattributed quotes from everyone from from Burroughs to Barthes, from Plutarch to Picasso, from Thoreau to Joyce), Shields maintains that actuality provides sufficient material for creative pursuit and that nothing needs to be (or can be) a game of 'let's pretend'. Shields is bored with the novel, he is fed up with the made up, he wants more immediacy, less artifice, more pace, he wants to be a ‘wisdom junkie’, he wants to feel really alive, he longs to escape his jaded state in the arms of the lyric essay or the memoir. Shields is against fiction (at least in the way it is generally understood), but he is ambiguous about 'reality', too: "There are no facts, only art." As an impassioned call for relevance, excitement and innovation in literature, Reality Hunger makes a challenge that deserves to be met.
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel: What to read and how to write by Jane Smiley       $36
A good overview of the purpose, qualities and potentials of a novel, with consideration of 101 novels from the entire history of the form. 
The Writer's Diet by Helen Sword        $25
A useful handbook for trimming the fat from your prose, leaving it lean, toned and fit for any purpose.
>> Is your writing flabby or fit? Take the test
Pilot 2018: A diary for writers      $15 (half price!)
An excellent diary with deadlines, writers' events, tips and ways to keep yourself both motivated and organised.