19/01/2018 01:03 PM

Books either anticipated or surprising - just out of the carton.
We That Are Young by Preti Taneja        $38
A sprawling but incisive retelling of King Lear, set against a backdrop of tradition, misogyny and corruption in modern India.
Long-listed for the Republic of Consciousness Prize.  
>> Modern rewritings of King Lear tend to have Lear the CEO of a corporation. See also Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn. 

Peach by Emma Glass      $27
"Slip the pin through the skin. Start stitching. It doesn't sting. It does bleed. White thread turns red. Red string. Going in. Going out. I pull. Tug. Tug the pin. In. Out. Out. Out. Blackout. Something has happened to Peach. It hurts to walk but she staggers home to parents that don't seem to notice. They can't keep their hands off each other and, besides, they have a new infant, sweet and wobbly as a jelly baby. Peach must patch herself up alone so she can go to college and see her boyfriend, Green. But sleeping is hard when she is haunted by the gaping memory of a mouth, and working is hard when burning sausage fat fills her nostrils, and eating is impossible when her stomach is swollen tight as a drum."
"An immensely talented young writer. Her fearlessness renews one's faith in the power of literature. Peach is a strange and original work of art that manages to be both genuinely terrifying and undeniably joyful" - George Saunders
Letters to the Lady Upstairs by Marcel Proust, translated by Lydia Davis         $28
Letters written between 1909 and 1919 to Madame Marie Williams, the upstairs neighbour to his elegant apartment at 102 Boulevard Haussmann, revealing his concerns with his health and with noise (that harp!), in a mix of elegance and haste, refinement and convolution, gravity and self-mockery.
>> Lydia Davis on translating Proust's letters
The Blind Owl, And other stories by Sadeq Hedayat           $17
One of the foremost works of modern Iranian literature, The Blind Owl tells the story of an unnamed pen case painter, the narrator, who sees in his macabre, feverish nightmares that "the presence of death annihilates all that is imaginary. We are the offspring of death and death delivers us from the tantalizing, fraudulent attractions of life; it is death that beckons us from the depths of life. If at times we come to a halt, we do so to hear the call of death. Throughout our lives, the finger of death points at us." The narrator addresses his murderous confessions to the shadow on his wall resembling an owl. His confessions do not follow a linear progression of events and often repeat and layer themselves thematically, allowing for an open-ended interpretation of the story.
Risography: Loving imperfections by Carolina Amell      $65
An excellent selection of works demonstrating the scope, characteristics and quirks of this printmaking process.
>> Risography explained and demonstrated
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin           $17
Fear (as opposed to anxiety, terror, horror, angst and its other cousins) clarifies perception and heightens the significance of details, much as does good writing, building an electrostatic charge which almost craves, yet ultimately resists, the release offered by the revelation of the feared. Schweblin’s short novel is like a Van de Graaff generator, building a textual charge that can be felt up the spine long after the book is finished. Now in paperback. 
Shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. 

Classic Food of Northern Italy by Anna Del Conte         $45
Recipes for dishes both familiar and surprising, both rustic and sophisticated, from restaurants and farmsteads, from city and country; all authentic and delicious. 
"Beyond doubt, the best writer on Italian food." - Nigella Lawson
"Anna is a purist. She will not countenance anything that isn't in the strictest sense authentic." - Delia Smith

The Medici by Mary Hollingsworth         $65
Argues that, far from being benign protocapitalist patrons of culture, the Medici were as devious and immoral as the Borgias, that they in fact despised the Florentines and beggared the city in their lust for power and wealth. 
"Vividly told." - The Times

China: A history in objects by Jessica Harrison-Hall        $65
A stunning visual history told in 6000 artefacts and objects. 

Massive, Expressive, Sculptural: Brutalism now and then by Chris van Uffelen      $85
An overview of post-war and contemporary brutalist buildings and of the relationship - in appearance and design, in the grand concepts and the smallest details - between brutalism today and its ancestors.
Barbara Hepworth: The sculptor in the studio by Sophie Bowness       $35
Trewyn Studio in St Ives, and especially the garden that Hepworth shaped there, was the primary and ideal context in which her sculptures were viewed. Following Hepworth's death in 1975, the studio was opened as the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Mister Monkey by Francine Prose        $33
An engaging comedy about Mister Monkey, a screwball children's musical about a playfully larcenous pet chimpanzee (and not a monkey), the kind of 'family favorite' that has certainly seen better days. The novel is told from the viewpoints of wildly unreliable, seemingly disparate characters whose lives become deeply connected as the madcap narrative unfolds. 
"Beautifully crafted, incisively written. What elevates this novel is Prose's ability to let us see into the heart of each character, to render each so vulnerably human, so achingly real in just a few short paragraphs." - Minneapolis Star Tribune 
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
The Leveller Revolution: Radical political organisation in England, 1640-1650 by John Rees          $25
The Levellers comprised one of the earliest modern social movements, agitating for equality first against the Monarchy and then against Cromwell. An interesting and well-written study of one of the roots of modern democracy. Now in paperback. 
"A scrupulously researched, carefully told narrative and a work of impressive scholarship." - Spectator
A Hero for High Times: A young reader's guide to the Beats, Hippies, Freaks, Punks, Ravers, New-Age Travellers and Dog-on-a-Rope Brew Crew Crusties of the British Isles, 1956-1994 by Ian Marchant        $40
A personal and enlightening guide to subculture history. 

Red Star Over Russia: A revolution in visual culture by Natalia Sidlina and Matthew Gale       $22
A good introduction to the correlation between political change and visual media, well illustrated with photomontage, photographs, paintings, handwritten notes, books, enclosures and ephemera.
>> Draws on the 250000 pieces of art and ephemera from the David King Collection
>> And inside the collector's home (he also collected Sunmaid Raisin packets)
Counting on Snow by Maxwell Newhouse        $16
A lovely Arctic counting book in which the animals are gradually obscured by snow. 
Oneida: From free love Utopia to the well-set table by Ellen Wayland-Smith        $28
How did a radical religious community practising open sexual relations become a manufacturer of silver cutlery and a bastion of  conservative American values? Bizarre. 
The Future Won't Be Long by Jarett Kobek         $37
New York in the late 80s and early 90s: a city of club kids, drag queens, artists and junkies; the urban laboratory where identities are being reinvented for the new millennium.
"The Great New York City Novel has been loudly attempted and proclaimed so many times, one is tempted to assume it simply couldn't exist. Yet, with piercing intelligence, vitality, hilarity, and a rather startling sweetness, Jarett Kobek has done it. Staggering." - Matthew Specktor 
"A novel that not only dissects with consummate skill the cultural life of fin-de-siecle New York, but finds there the early symptoms of our contemporary malignancy." - James Purdon, Observer
"An inspired evocation of the last days of the underground empire, before the fall." - Chris Kraus 
Little Mouse and the Red Wall by Britta Teckentrup        $30
Sometimes we find that the walls that keep us from freedom are not as substantial as we had thought. Little Mouse and his animal friends have something to learn about the wall between them and the outside world. 
Hello World: A celebration of languages and curiosities by Jonathan Litton        $33
Make friends around the world with this lift-the-flap board book. 
White Trash: The 400-year untold history of class in America by Nancy Isenberg       $28
The United Sates' treatment of poor whites has been almost as shameful as its treatment of Blacks and Hispanics. This book, now in paperback, traces the roots of the disaffection that has manifest itself in the US's current woes. 
Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, microbes and the fight for real cheese by Bronwen and Francis Percival           $35
In little more than a century, the drive towards industrial and intensive farming has altered every aspect of the cheesemaking process, from the bodies of the animals that provide the milk to the science behind the microbial strains that ferment it. This book explores what has been lost, but is also enthusiastic for what can be reclaimed: artisanal processes and the associated microbial structures that provide flavours not otherwise achievable. 

Radical Happiness: Moments of collective joy by Lynne Segal          $27
Is it possible to overthrow the mindset that makes happiness an individualised commodity and make it instead a collective mode of action? 

Fables by Arnold Lobel            $22
A crocodile admires the orderly pattern of flowers on his bedroom wallpaper. When confronted with the riot of flowers in Mrs. Crocodile's garden he retreats to his bed in distress, where he is comforted by the neat floral rows of the wallpaper. After that he seldom leaves his bed, becoming a sickly shade of green. The moral: "Without a doubt, there is such a thing as too much order." 

An instant favourite: twenty cheerful fables, wonderfully illustrated. 
Animation Studio by Helen Piercy          $33
Everything (including the film set!) a child needs to create stop-motion videos on a mobile phone or digital camera.
Feed the Resistance: Recipes + ideas for getting involved by Julia Turshen      $30
When people search for ways to resist injustice and express support for civil rights, environmental protections, and more, they begin by gathering around the table to talk and plan. What should you give them to eat? Useful. 

A Note of Explanation: A little tale of secrets and enchantment from Queen Mary's dolls' house by Vita Sackville-West, illustrated by Kate Baylay            $35
A hitherto unpublished work commissioned in 1924 for the library of Queen Mary's Dolls' House, beautifully illustrated in period style. 

>> Visit the dolls' house

17/01/2018 02:12 PM

Browse some of the themed booklists issued by VOLUME in 2017.

The Booker 6

The Booker dozen

Books on the Brain

Featured publisher: CB Editions

Cultivate your mind with 10 gardening books

Featured publisher: Fitzcarraldo Editions

Featured publisher: Les Fugitives

Featured publisher: Hard Press

How Jewish is that?

Lions have all the best books!

Literary Horses

Long Suffrage

Featured publisher: Maungatua Press

Novels retelling legends from Ancient Greece

Object Lessons

Ockham Book Awards

Quirky Books for Dull Days

Rebel Girls

Recent books on Russian history

School holiday wolves

Short Short Short Short Short

Ten Trees

Understanding America

Unstopped Text


The Wellcome Prize


 >> List #1: COOKBOOKS

>> List #2: POLITICS

>> List #3: BIOGRAPHY

>> List #4: SCIENCE

>> List #5: POETRY

>> List #6: FICTION

>> List #7: HISTORY




13/01/2018 09:45 PM

BOOKS @ VOLUME #57 (13.1.18)

Find out what we've been reading and recommending. 

13/01/2018 09:36 PM

The stories in László Krasnahorkai's The World Goes On, this week's Book of the Week at VOLUME, convey the simultaneous striving and resignation of lives lived as a sort of ongoing eventless apocalypse (so to call it).

>> Read Thomas's Review.

>> "The narrators in The World Goes On find themselves wandering in a world of forgotten revelations and corrupted messages, blindly groping toward ineffable essences that forever remain out of reach."

>> "This collection – a masterpiece of invention, utterly different from everything else – is hugely unsettling and affecting: to meet Krasznahorkai’s characters, to read his breathless, twisting sentences, is to feel altered."

>> "It's as though there's a black hole hiding behind the pages."

>> Read a sample story, 'Downhill on a Forest Road'.

>> Read another, 'Chasing Waterfalls'. 

>> Krasznahorkai was awarded the 2015 Man Booker International Prize

>> What are the advantages, disadvantages and dangers of translation?

>> "Reality examined to the point of madness." 

>> Between theatre and reality (recommended interview).

>> Krasznahorkai's novel Satantango was made into a 7-hour film by Hungarian master Bela Tarr. Tarr and Krasznahorkai have worked together on a number of occasions. 

>> The whale scene from The Melancholy of Resistance (filmed as The Werckmeister Harmonies by Bela Tarr) is revisited in one of the stories in The World Goes On

>> "The deepest loss is the loss of a culture of poverty. Nowadays we only have people who don't have money, but everyone has the same dream." 

>> The author's website

>> FaceBook, even

>> Is avoiding madness like avoiding a heart attack? 

>> "The sublimely startled appearance of a corpse reanimated with electric shocks." Warning: content may disturb. 

>> Krasznahorkai at VOLUME

13/01/2018 09:34 PM

{Review by STELLA}

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck is an insightful exploration of the refugee crisis seen through the eyes of Richard, a recently retired academic in Berlin. Adjusting to the end of work, widowhood and the days endlessly stretching in front of him, Richard finds himself contemplating his past more than his future. What was his purpose after all? A post-war child, he carries the stories of last century, the trauma of the war and the guilt of his parents' generation. Berlin, a city divided by a wall, has been his constant adult companion until 1990. He understands borders, and the impact they have when they exist and when they supposedly don’t. After a tent city at Alexanderplatz is demolished, Richard’s interest is piqued. Tracking down the African refugees at a temporary facility, he starts to record their stories, stories of poverty, violence and desperation. What the refugees want is to work, but until they are assessed and granted asylum they don’t qualify to work in Germany. In his attempts to help, he comes up against bureaucracy and legal loopholes, reminiscent of his own past in East Germany, which make him question the compassion of his contemporary homeland and meaning in his own life. In this exceptionally well-written and compelling novel, Erpenbeck explores race, identity and the notions of nationhood and ​borders, both personal and geographical.​

13/01/2018 09:34 PM

Review by STELLA


Aotearoa: The New Zealand story is an impressive illustrated history by children’s writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop. Beautiful to behold, each page contains a myriad of small details, snippets of information that build to give the reader a wealth of information and thoughtful consideration to how our history is told. Covering mythology, early migration, European exploration, the impact of colonisation, our flora and fauna, famous New Zealanders, what we ate and wore, how we lived and changed over time this is a book that simultaneously has great scope and an eye for microscopic detail. With such a broad scope and aimed at children, it’s not a definitive history, yet it successfully tells our story and gives us insights into areas that are often overlooked in more scholarly works. It’s heartening to see more than a cursory treatment of pre-European history, plenty of te reo Māori included seamlessly in the text (there’s a glossary at the back), to have the New Zealand Wars and its impact on Maori populations highlighted, alongside New Zealand’s place in the wider world during the two world wars of last century and the influence of post-war European migration on our ever-changing cultural landscape. And while there are some of the usual suspects on the 'famous people' pages, it’s great to see our best creative minds (writers, performers and artists) stepping out on their own pages. Running throughout the book is the importance of the land, its flora and fauna - and the responsibility we all have to ensure its environmental well-being. This is a delightful and informative book is for all ages - perfect as a family gift.


13/01/2018 09:33 PM

The World Goes On by László Krasnahorkai  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
The mistake, or at least one of the mistakes, being made by each of the narrators of the stories that comprise Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s The World Goes On is thinking that the occurrences that constitute what they think of as their lives have anything to do with them, and, although they are themselves insufficient reason for these or any other occurrences, the narrators nevertheless find it impossible to extricate themselves, to absent themselves from the proceedings in which they find themselves caught up. The sentences that constitute their lives, for us at least, and what else have they got, are both a grasping for and, by the fact of this grasping, a separation from the circumstances of which they are aware, or that constitute their awareness, so to call it. The characters achieve neither fulfilment nor dissolution, wavering in their inclinations between the two impossibilities, they strive for the meaning of their situation, so to call it, the meaning each time withheld, or in any case ungrasped, the difference between withholding and nongrasping being irrelevant to the reader, as if meaning was something that could either be grasped or withheld, as if anything could signify anything other than itself. Krasznahorkai’s narrators are paralysed by their own ambivalences, they naturally incline, as we all do, both towards the partial, which can be sensed, which cannot be understood, and also towards the general, towards the totality, towards understanding but away from sense, towards the point at which those things that can be grasped are cancelled out by other things that are not grasped, the quest for understanding leading towards the point at which that which could be understood is extinguished, knowledge only becomes possible at the point at which there is no longer anything to know, the whole being not so much the sum of the parts as their nullification. There is no wisdom to be gained from this world. If you are leaving, there is nothing that you need to take, even if you could take anything, even if you could leave, but there is no such possible departure: “History has not ended, and nothing has ended; we can no longer delude ourselves by thinking that anything has ended with us. We merely continue something, maintaining it somehow; something continues, something survives.” The world goes on. “Nothing ever happens without antecedents, actually everything is just an antecedent, as if everything were just always preparing for something else that came before, as if it were preparing for something, but at the same time, an in an appalling manner, as if preparing without any final cumulative goal, so that everything is just a continually dying spark, everything is always striving towards a future that can never occur, what no longer exists strives towards what does not yet exist … nothing can be said beyond the fact that in addition to antecedents there are also consequences [a better translation might be ‘subsequences’], but not occurring in time.” Krasznahorkai, whose native medium is language, must express the paradoxical relationship between meaning and its impossibility through the failure of language to achieve the ends of language. Attempts to represent in language the incomprehensible events in which his narrators are immersed, and they exist only in language after all, result in the incomprehensibility of these events transferring to language itself. Agency becomes indeterminate, narrative position unstable, identity at once both overdefined and underdefined. Understanding is not gained, because it is impossible, but the usefulness of language for even its most straightforward functions is destabilised and suspicion is thrown upon it as an agent of estrangement and obfuscation that leaves us incapable of distinguishing reality from theatre. The virtuosity at which Krasznahorkai aims is almost unattainable. The closer language can be brought to resemble thought the more the shortcomings, or rather limitations, of both language and thought will be revealed. The thirty-page single sentence of ‘A Drop of Water’ is not so much linear, or even circular, as spherical, a thread of words looped endlessly over the surface of a droplet, always encountering itself and then moving on towards the next such encounter, never breaching the surface, and the fifty-three page sentence of ‘That Gargarin’, to my mind the best story in this collection, gradually reveals the insanity of its narrator, or leads him, and us, into this insanity. In his narratives and the tendencies of thought that they embody, Krasznahorkai frequently reaches into the general and towards the universal, presumably in order to demonstrate the futility of such an approach. Only the failure of the perfect, and therefore impossible, attempt can prove the impossibility of the task, but, in the struggle for better failures, is there a point at which the impossibility of the task begins to outweigh the shortcomings of the attempt, a point at which we begin to sense that our failures are existential rather than individual, a point at which we are released from personal into communal hopelessness?

12/01/2018 05:14 PM


Robinson by Jack Robinson          $30
Written following the 2016 referendum in which the UK voted to quit the European Union, Robinson is in part a record of the disfiguring influence of Defoe’s novel on British education and culture. The latter-day Robinsons of Kafka, Céline, Patrick Keiller and others are surveyed, and Robinson himself as a fictional character – more ‘a sort of ghost’ – makes known his opinion of the author.
"Quirky and stylish, Robinson is Robinson’s witty and indefinable response to Brexit. Readers are taken on an erudite journey through the many different versions of Robinson Crusoe since the original 'father of all Crusoes' who 'built a wall and fortified it with guns'." - The Irish Times
"This is a very witty, quick-moving book. It has to be witty, because it is about the depressing, miserable condition of contemporary Britain. It has to be quick-moving, because it covers a lot of ground – vignettes, glimpses, quick recreations or summaries of many books, photographs, films. It's a book about literature (and much else) but free of the encumbering formalities of academic writing." - Christopher Palmer
>> Read an extract.
The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregor          $30
Eleven prequel stories of the characters appearing in the acclaimed Reservoir 13
"McGregor writes with such grace and precision, with love even, about who and where we are, that he leaves behind all other writers of his generation." - Sarah Hall
Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz           $30
A woman is beset by extreme ambivalences of every kind, particularly her longing for and revulsion by family life. If a thought is thought it must be thought until its end, and Harwicz maps the darkest (and most common) paths of thought sensitively in exquisite prose. 
Blue Land and City Noise: An Expressionist stroll through art and literature by Cathrin Klingsohr-Leroy      $60
A beautifully presented selections of Expressionist art and of the more-seldom-seen Expressionist literature, all claiming the value of a subjective response to the world. 
The Absence of Absalon by Simon Okotie        $28
An unnamed investigator investigates a series of disappearances: of his colleague, Marguerite; of Harold Absalon, the Mayor's transport advisor, whose disappearance Marguerite had been investigating prior to his own disappearance; of Richard Knox, the owner of the townhouse, who had fallen out with Absalon before disappearing; and of Absalon's wife Isobel. What is going on? How do objects stand in the way of understanding? A highly original approach to crime-fiction narrative. 
"This is literature as insanity, the mind stuck in an endless loop - focused, it would appear, too closely on the job at hand. The detective story as existential crisis took form with Beckett's Molloy more than 60 years ago; and the concept of the novel as crazed digression was first incarnated in Tristram Shandy, over 250 years ago. Okotie is in very good company - and has also set himself a high bar. He succeeds. Superbly. - Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
Moving Kings by Joshua Cohen         $38
Twenty-one-year-olds Yoav and Uri, veterans of the last Gaza War, have just completed their compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces. In keeping with national tradition, they take a year off for rest, recovery, and travel. They come to New York City and begin working for Yoav’s distant cousin David King—a proud American patriot, Republican, and Jew, and the recently divorced proprietor of King’s Moving Inc, a heavyweight in the Tri-State area’s moving and storage industries. What starts off as a profitable if eerily familiar job—an “Occupation”—quickly turns violent when they encounter one homeowner seeking revenge.
"This is a book of brilliant sentences, brilliant paragraphs, brilliant chapters. There’s not a page without some vital charge — a flash of metaphor, an idiomatic originality, a bastard neologism born of nothing. Cohen is an extraordinary prose stylist." — James Wood, New Yorker
Do It the French Way by Daniel Gaujac       $45
As well as building the "hideous monstrosity" that has become France's foremost visual icon, Gustav Eiffel also build the Thuir Distillery in 1873, which was the origin of many of France's iconic aperitifs, including Pernod Absinthe, Byrrh, Lillet, Ricard and Suze. The first half of this book features photographs of the restored distillery, the second contains illustrated recipes from some of the world's foremost bartenders for cocktails based on these aperitifs. All in all a very pleasing book. 
Difficult Women by David Plante         $38
Pen portraits of the aged, alcoholic, Lear-like Jean Rhys; Sonia Orwell, George Orwell's widow, both exploiter and victim; and Germaine Greer, always ready to make a virtue of her difficulty. Plante writes revealingly throughout, revealingly often of himself.

A Wood of One's Own by Ruth Pavey         $33
What is the point of leaving London, seeking a piece of land upon which to plant a wood and then discovering the unromantic complexities of rural life if you do not also write a charming book about your experiences doing so? 
Ice by Anna Kavan          $33
A pleasing new hardback edition of Kavan's classic post-apocalyptic novel, described by Peter Owen as "a cross between Kafka and The Avengers". Inspired by the two years Kavan spent in New Zealand, which she constantly felt as close to the Antarctic, by the ice imagery common to heroin addiction (she overdosed in 1968, the year after Ice was published), and by a David Attenborough television documentary, Ice is a tale of obsession set in a world threatened by a vast ice sheet in the wake of a nuclear war. 
"There is nothing else like it. This ice is not psychological ice or metaphysical ice; here the loneliness of childhood has been magicked into a physical reality as hallucinatory as the Ancient Mariner's." - Doris Lessing
The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a global world by Maya Jasanoff        $70
Migration, terrorism, the tensions between global capitalism and nationalism, the promise and peril of a technological and communications revolution: these forces shaped the life and work of Joseph Conrad at the dawn of the twentieth century. 
"The Dawn Watch will win prizes, and if it doesn’t, there is something wrong with the prizes." - Guardian 

Revolutionary Yiddishland: A history of Jewish radicalism by Alain Brossat and Sylvie Klingberg        $23
Socialists, Communists, Bundists, Zionists, Trotskyists, manual workers and intellectuals: before the Holocaust decimated their numbers and laid waste to the land their radicalism addressed, the Jewish communities between Russia and the Baltic brought forth a swathe of new ideas compounded of idealism and doubt. The book examines what was lost, and what might have been. Now in paperback. 

Robot House by Peter Testa      $55
New applications and developments in robotics are transforming architectural practice (and theory too, for that matter). This book takes us to the forefront of design. 

Dawn of the New Everything: A journey through virtual reality by Jaron Lanier      $40
An account of the enormous paradigm shift implied by technological advances in the last three decades, advances that find us on the brink of wholly new ways of being and thinking. Written by one of the pioneers in the field. 
"A deeply human, highly personal and beautifully told story." - Dave Eggers
A Plea for the Animals by Matthieu Ricard        $40
The moral, philosophical and evolutionary imperatives for not only treating animals with compassion but also for recognising that they and we have common natures and concerns. 
Under the Knife: A history of surgery in 28 remarkable operations by Arnold van de Laar       $38
The history of surgery is one of conceptual revolutions as much as technical revolutions. 
Paladares: Recipes inspired by the private restaurants of Cuba by Anya von Bremzen and Megan Fawn Schlow     $60
Cuban cuisine is notable not only for the appreciation of 'ordinary' ingredients but for the inventiveness in their treatment. This book is meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated. 
I, Mammal: The story of what makes us mammals by Liam Drew       $27
What does it mean for us to have more in common with a horse and an elephant than we do with a parrot, snake or frog?

Extreme Cities: The peril and promise of urban life in the age of climate change by Ashley Dawson     $35
Cities are ground zero for climate change, contributing the lion's share of carbon to the atmosphere, while also lying on the frontlines of rising sea levels. Rethinking cities and the way we use them could make all the difference not only to the environment but to issues of inequality and social justice also. 
A Cat, a Man, and Two Women by Junichiro Tanizaki        $23
Shinako has been ousted from her marriage by her husband Shozo and his younger lover Fukuko. She's lost her home, status and respectability, but the only thing she longs for is Lily, the elegant tortoiseshell cat she shared with her husband. As Shinako pleads for Lily's return, Shozo's reluctance to part with the cat reveals his true affections, and the lengths he'll go to hold onto the one he loves most.

Perfect Simple: Inspired eating from a Nordic kitchen by Simon Bajada         $40
The clean, fresh flavours of modern Scandinavian cuisine are an expression of simple ingredients, traditional preparations and contemporary approaches. 

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio          $38
Compared with Donna Tartt's A Secret History, If We Were Villains is a riveting mix of love and murder set in an elite drama college specialising in Shakespeare (what else?). 
Gender Medicine by Marek Glezerman         $23
Recent research has suggested that both diagnosis and prescription are jeopardised by the assumption easy assumptions about the similarity of subjects, when the differences between subjects, for instance in gender, may be instrumental in achieving desired health outcomes (so to call them). This book examines more flexible approaches.
Eleanor and Hick: The love affair that shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn        $37
In 1932, as her husband assumed the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt entered the claustrophobic, duty-bound existence of the First Lady with dread. A lifeline came to her in the form of a campaign reporter for the Associated Press: Lorena Hickok. 

At War with War: 5000 years of conquests, invasions and terrorist attacks, An illustrated timeline by Seymour Chwast         $37
Balances anger and despair with wit and humanity. 
>> A video about design legend Seymour Chwast and about this book

06/01/2018 09:05 PM

BOOKS@VOLUME #56 (6.1.18)
Read our first newsletter for 2018.
Find out what we've been reading, and about some of the writing courses we are offering this year.

06/01/2018 08:50 PM

Our Book of the Week this week is Jennifer Egan's elegant and insightful new novel Manhattan Beach

>> Read Stella's review

>> “Writing entirely outside of my lifetime was extremely challenging." 

>> "I wanted to write a book that addressed the issue of female power."

>> Lit Up

>> Egan chats with Claire Messud. 

>> Manhattan Beach considered in the Los Angeles Review of Books

>> Egan's website

>> Jennifer Egan at VOLUME

06/01/2018 08:50 PM

Join author and playwright Michelanne Forster at VOLUME for a series of short Creative Writing courses in small, supportive classes. Michelanne offers informative tutorials and writing exercises that unlock creativity and give you practical skills in all genres. >Full details.
FINDING YOUR WRITER’S VOICEThursdays 7-9 PM: February 15, 22, March 1, 8 (4 sessions). $220. Kick-start or continue your writing journey. This course offers exercises that will help you find and hone your personal writing style. >Enrol here.
WRITING YOUR MEMOIR. Wednesdays 9:30 AM -12 noon: June 6, 13, 20, 27, July 4 (5 sessions). $280. Explore different approaches to memoir writing and learn the skills needed to write a sustained piece of work based on your life. The course offers examples, short lectures and class exercises. >Enrol here.
WRITING FOR CHILDREN. Sundays 9:30 AM - 12 noon: August 5, 12, 19 (3 sessions). $180. Become familiar with the appropriate language and story content for all ages, from babies to teens. Use the variety of award-winning books at VOLUME to inspire you, and try out your story ideas in a supportive group atmosphere. >Enrol here

06/01/2018 08:49 PM

{Reviewed by STELLA}

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline will take you on a wild ride into a virtual world. It’s the year 2044 and everyone is ‘living’ inside the internet. The world has gone to custard - resources are limited, the climate is wrecked, war, poverty and disease are widespread - and our hero Wade Watts understandably prefers the OASIS. Created by super-clever James Halliday, this virtual utopia offers both rich and poor a better choice. Hook yourself in - visor, haptic gloves and a good internet connection - and life vastly improves, and, if you are Wade, removed from the Stack (a sprawling trailer-park city where units are literally stacked up). On-line you can be anyone you want to be, but money is still an issue - the wealthier you are, the more credits you can get and the further you can go. Wade is poor, so he spends most of his time on planet Lundus, at his virtual reality school or catching a lift with some of his wealthier friends to a nearby sphere where his comparatively low experience level avatar Parcival (he’s still weapons- and magic-poor when we meet him) won’t be killed. Parcival (like the knight, except someone got the correct spelling before him) is keen to hone his skills, and the perfect opportunity arises when James Halliday dies and sets the ultimate challenge - an Easter egg hunt which involves keys, gates and much puzzle-solving. The reward is ownership of the OASIS, a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Wade/ Parcival, a fan of 80s gaming and pop culture, knows this could be the key to getting out of the Stacks. But everyone wants it and only the best gunters (game-hunters) will make it. Add to this an internet corporate IOI (who have numerous resources at their fingertips) who want to monetise the virtual world, and life becomes very dangerous, especially when Parcival finds the first key (after five fruitless years) ahead of everyone else and tops the scoreboard. Life changes for Wade as he finds himself in the way of IOI and possibly quite a few fellow gunters. He packs up and heads for obscurity - safety in a small apartment - vowing not to leave until he cracks all levels. But who can he trust, fellow gunters Art3mis or Aech? And will IOI track him down? If you like dystopias, gaming and 80s pop culture you are in for a treat: high jinks in the virtual world where the desire for power is as potent as ever.
PS: the film is out soon!


06/01/2018 08:48 PM

{Reviewed by STELLA}


Meg Elison has followed her excellent, award-winning The Book of the Unnamed Midwife with The Book of Etta. One hundred years on, the community Nowhere is functioning in a mostly okay way. The midwives and mothers are surviving, babies are being born and the men are happy to be part of a hive. Etta is a raider. She goes beyond the gates to seek supplies, things from the old world that might be useful, to bring news back to the closed community, and to look for others - some of whom need rescuing. As in the Unnamed Midwife, life is dangerous for girl children. There’s a roaring trade in young women and children. It’s dangerous out on the road so Etta becomes Eddy when she travels. Tall and strong, she is convincing as a man, to herself as well as others. A split personality Etta/Eddy is torn - she adores Nowhere, her family and friends, but she also craves freedom from the obligation to bear children or birth them, and to be able to be herself. As Eddy travels, he comes across several communities, cautiously welcoming. They are often cult-like, with a strong centre of power and defined rules to keep order, all with the intent of repopulating the world with healthy children and creating a better society. Yet there are also many cities/townships controlled by warlords. Eddy meets the Lion, a sociopathic leader who pillages from the surrounding communities, makes deals that he breaks, keeps a harem of women as well as young boys, and has willing soldiers. When the Lion destroys everything that Etta loves, she vows revenge, and sets herself an impossible task. In a world where everyone looks out for themselves and those they care for, will anyone step up with Etta or will she have to go it alone? A gripping read set in a dystopian near-future. The third in 'The Road to Nowhere' series, The Book of Flora, is still to come.

06/01/2018 08:48 PM

Charges by Elfriede Jelinek   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
Who speaks for whom? And to whom? For whom is it appropriate to speak? For whom is it necessary to speak? For whom is it even possible to speak? Whose voices cannot be heard? Whose voices overspeak the voices of those who cannot be heard and take away the meanings of their words? Which is rather to say perhaps that they can be heard but not understood. Which is rather to say that they might as well not have been heard. What meanings do words have when those who speak them have been denied those aspects of their lives that provide the meanings for words? Who then owns or controls the meanings of words? Are there words for which the meanings cannot be taken away even by those who would take away the meanings of words? What do these words refer to? To what extent are words the weapons of all battles, especially of those battles for which there are no other weapons? To what extent are all crises also crises of language? To what extent can crises be addressed, assuaged or remedied in language? To what extent can crises not be addressed, assuaged or remedied at all if they are not addressed, assuaged or remedied in language, either first, or later, or in parallel with any other attempt to address or assuage or remedy such crises? Charges is comprised of three dramatic monologues, or, rather, choruses, or, rather, one dramatic monologue or chorus with a ‘Coda’ and an ‘Appendix’, spoken largely as a mutable plural first person, expressing the experiences of refugees reaching Europe during the urgent humanitarian crisis of recent years, but multivocal and restless enough between those multiple voices to encompass varying viewpoints and experiences. The text takes the form of a complaint, and has conscious parallels with Æschylus’s The Suppliants (in which, rarely for Greek theatre, the chorus are the protagonists, in that case the Danaids, who, having fled their home country to avoid intolerable circumstances, plead first with the ruler of Argos and then with its citizens, who ultimately grant them protection). Charges is remarkable for the obsessive propulsion, subtle shifts and emotional charge of its sentences, which move with such urgent necessity, both exploring and resisting all that is represented by the word “plight”, so often and so easily applied to refugees, who rather have common needs, very much the needs of all humans, than a plight, other than that their needs, these common human needs, are not met by those denying them through selfishness, hatred or fear, if we can distinguish between hatred and fear, and between these and selfishness. The refugees, in addition to seeking permission to have their needs, the common human needs, met, are resisting the single story applied upon them from without, both by those to oppose and by those who support them, seeking to retain their individual stories, their individual losses, despite being reduced to the level of concern almost exclusively for their common human needs, which are not met. Who would deny them? Who is in a position to deny them? It is in the nature of a crisis for the stories of the individual victims to be lost beneath the story of the crisis, for each active ‘I’ to be subsumed by the passive ‘we’ of those branded with the crisis. Jelinek’s text springs initially from anger at the ‘plight’ of a group of mainly Syrian refugees who reached Vienna, took refuge in a prominent church and were then moved by the authorities to a less visible location. The tone reaches a mocking pitch when addressing the authorities’ reluctance to provide for the basic needs of this group ("You have poured all your intentions into one formula and now you can't get your intentions out of this formula."), especially while blithely granting citizenship to individuals who are helped to sidestep the qualifications for citizenship. “Calculations always contain violence,” writes Jelinek. Language becomes the way not only in which needs are expressed but also the way in which needs are denied. A thing and its opposite may well be a pun, not only by homophony or etymology but by referent. There is not enough water to drink but plenty to drown in. Charges is evidence that is it possible, perhaps by aligning the particular and the general through the subtlety and force of its language, for the direct treatment of a political issue to deepen a work of art, both in its content and its form. Language is the battleground upon which writers must contest, or else upon which they submit. “The conquest of the world as image, that’s history.”


05/01/2018 03:45 PM

for a new year
The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai         $33
"This collection of stories – a masterpiece of invention, utterly different from everything else – is hugely unsettling and affecting: to meet Krasznahorkai’s characters, to read his breathless, twisting sentences, is to feel altered." - The Guardian
"The narrators in The World Goes On find themselves wandering in a world of forgotten revelations and corrupted messages, blindly groping toward ineffable essences that forever remain out of reach." - Music & Literature 

From Here to Eternity: Travelling the world to find the good death by Caitlin Doughty          $35
As a practicing mortician in a society that fears and seldom looks directly at death, Doughty is keenly curious about societies that have a greater intimacy with and acceptance of our inescapable fate. In this book she travels the world surveying the death practices, mourning rituals and attitudes to mortality of a wide range of cultures. 
A New Map of Wonders: a journey in search of modern marvels by Caspar Henderson       $45
Do we overlook wonder in the modern world? This remarkable illustrated book reawakens our curiosity about the world we live in, and about our place in it.

Mandelbrot the Magnificent by Liz Ziemska         $25
"Bottomless wonders spring from simple rules repeated without end.” - Benoit Mandelbrot
A fictional pseudobiography of Mandelbrot as he flees into deep mathematics to escape the rise of Hitler. Drawn into the infinite promulgations of formulae, he sinks into secret dimensions and unknown wonders. 
>> Some pleasantly zoomable fractals
The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's quest to transform the grisly world of Victorian medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris         $40
In Victorian operating theatres, half the patients failed to survive the experience. This was an era when a broken leg could lead to amputation, when surgeons often lacked university degrees, and were still known to ransack cemeteries to find cadavers. While the discovery of anaesthesia somewhat lessened the misery for patients, it actually led to more deaths, as surgeons took greater risks. Doctors remained baffled by the persistent infections that kept mortality rates stubbornly high. Joseph Lister, a young Quaker surgeon made the claim that germs were the source of all infection and could be treated with antiseptics.  
Frankenstein, Or, The modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley, illustrated by David Plunkert        $33
A 200th anniversary edition, fully and imaginatively illustrated. 
>> Visit the illustrator's website (recommended). 
>> Plunkert animation

Urban Potters: Makers in the city by Katie Treggiden and Ruth Ruyffelaere        $60
More than thirty young and passionate ceramicists in New York, London, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Sydney and Sao Paulo introduce us to their work, their studios and their inspiration. Beautifully photographed and presented. 

The Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2017 edited by Sarah Vowell        $33
A compilation of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics and genreless pieces selected by US high-school students and notable for its range and liveliness. 

"One wonders how the world might be different if works in The Best American Nonrequired Reading were indeed required." - USA Today
Beyond the Map: Unruly enclaves, ghostly places, emerging lands, and our search for new Utopias by Alastair Bonnett        $33
Geography is in greater flux than ever, with what qualifies as a place being redefined with every artificial island, hidden settlement, proto-state and micro-nation. Bonnett takes us just beyond the reach of maps, and considers the emergence of new trends in geographic thinking. 

A Chill in the Air: An Italian war diary, 1939-40 by Iris Origo         $28

The awful inevitability with which Italy stumbled its way into a war for which they were ill prepared and largely unenthusiastic is documented here by one of the twentieth century's great diarists.
Defending the Rock: How Gibraltar defeated Hitler by Nicholas Rankin         $45
Menaced on all sides by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Vichy France and Francoist Spain, Gibraltar had to let thousands of people cross its frontier to work every day. Among them came spies and saboteurs, attempting to blow up its 25 miles of secret tunnels. In 1942, Gibraltar became US General Eisenhower's HQ for the invasion of North Africa, the campaign that led to Allied victory in the Mediterranean.
Janesville: An American story by Amy Goldstein          $29
This insightful book studies the impact of the closure of the General Motors factory in Janesville, Wisconsin, upon the workers, families, communities, educators, support workers and local businesses, and reveals a wider variety of responses than we might assume. 
"Moving and magnificently well-researched. Janesville joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States. What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis." - The New York Times
Catch Me When You Fall by Eileen Merriman        $20
Seventeen-year-old Alex Byrd is about to have the worst day of her life, and the best. A routine blood test that will reveal her leukaemia has returned, but she also meets Jamie Orange. A well-written YA novel from the NZ author of Pieces of You about finding love on the borders of life and death.
Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty          $37
"Midwinter Break is a work of extraordinary emotional precision and sympathy, about coming to terms - to an honest reckoning - with love and the loss of love, with memory and pain. Full of scenes that are rendered with exquisite accuracy and care, allowing the most detailed physical descriptions to be placed against the possibility of a rich spiritual life, this is a novel of great ambition by an artist at the height of his powers." - Colm Toibin

Soul at the White Heat: Inspiration, obsession and the writing life by Joyce Carol Oates         $33
Where does writing come from? What is the relationship between the writer and her source of inspiration? In this series of incisive critical and personal essays, Oates examines her own writing practice and that of Virginia Woolf, John Updike, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, J. M. Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Joan Didion, Zadie Smith, and many others.
"Oates's writing has always seemed effortless: urgent, unafraid, torrential. She writes like a woman who walks into rough country and doesn't look back." - The New York Times
Emilia's Colours: The gift of autism by Ali Beasley          $24
A very helpful and affirming book written by the parent of an autistic girl to help other parents and professionals better understand the needs and gifts of autistic children. 
>> The author's website
>> Other books about autism at VOLUME

Off the Deep End: A history of madness at sea by Nic Compton         $30
Why are sailors seven times more likely to suffer from mental illness than the rest of the population? Interesting.

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.
Mischling by Affinity Konar        $23
Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood. In 1944 the arrive at Auschwitz and become part the experimental population of twins known as 'Mengele's Zoo'. What happens when one of twins disappears? 
"Mischling is a paradox. It's a beautiful novel about the most odious of crimes, it's a deeply researched act of remembrance that somehow carries the lightness of a fairy tale, and it's a coming-of-age story about children who aren't allowed to come of age. If your soul can survive the journey, you'll be rewarded by one of the most harrowing, powerful, and imaginative books of the year." - Anthony Doerr
The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams        $25
Williams is a devastating observer of social vacuities, and yet manages to induce great sympathy for the ways in which her characters desperately attempt to shore up their dissolving realities.
Now in paperback.
>> Williams’s essay on writing, ‘Uncanny the Singing that Comes from Certain Husks’, has the same merciless sympathy as her stories. 

30/12/2017 09:48 PM

BOOKS@VOLUME #55 (30.12.17)
Read our latest NEWSLETTER.
Find out what we've been reading, and our Books of the Year.
Find out the last new releases for 2017 (more to come in 2018).

30/12/2017 08:38 PM

Our Book of the Week this week is Gavin Bishop's hugely impressive pictorial history Aotearoa: The New Zealand story. Spanning our history from the Big Bang until tomorrow, this is a book that should be on every bookcase (whether there are children in the house or not). 

>> Bishop at The Sapling (includes page spreads).

>> Visit Gavin's website

>> RNZ interview with Gavin Bishop

>> Bishop's The House that Jack Built also tells a New Zealand story. 

30/12/2017 08:37 PM

{Review by STELLA}

Lauren James’s The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is a gripping teen read. What seems to be a teen romance via remote communication has complex psychological layers and a thrilling climax. Romy Silvers is sixteen and alone in space. The crew has died, her parents are long gone. Romy, born in space, on her way to Earth II, keeps in touch with NASA through a series of daily audio communications from Molly - messages that takes years to get to her. When she receives a message saying that Earth is at war and communications will have to cease, Romy’s link to any world outside the confines of The Infinity - her spaceship - are dashed. When another spaceship is launched, it seems like Romy won’t be quite as lonely as she feared. Romy strikes up a friendship with J via email. J’s spaceship, The Eternity, high-tech and faster than Romy’s, is due to reach her in a year. The novel opens with a countdown, 365 until The Eternity reaches The Infinity. As the days count down and J becomes a greater presence in her everyday life, Romy finds herself increasingly enamoured by J. Is it possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met, who is travelling through light years to reach you? Romy is fascinated by Earth and keen to finally meet someone from Earth and to have someone to share the responsibility of the mission with. On The Infinity are hundreds of embryos in deep freeze ready for the new planet. Romy’s job, as the sole survivor, is to keep them safe until they reach Earth II. This is a fascinating read on several levels: the idea of being in deep space, isolated and bored - the days are scarily similar; the romance that is flourishing - is it real?: the psychological impact of what has happened; the reason why Romy is alone - you’ll have to read the book to find out -  raises questions about the pressure of responsibility. This is fast-paced, charming (Romy will be a hit with most readers), and quietly disturbing - the edgy climax moves the book from a space romance to a thriller of compelling motives. 

30/12/2017 08:37 PM

{Review by Stella}


A Swedish-New Zealand partnership between writers Arne Norlin and Sally Astridge has resulted in Time Twins. Published in Sweden in 2014, where it has been a runaway success, and in New Zealand this year by Makaro Press, Time Twins is a great read for children and younger teens. Norlin writes the voice of Astrid, and Astridge the boy Tamati. Born at the exact same moment, Astrid and Tamati are time twins - linked across distance. When Tamati is twelve, he starts appearing in Astrid’s room in the middle of the night. He’s been trying to make contact for ages, taking himself to the beach to meditate and focus and let his mind free. It’s a little like teleporting. His Koro, who has great ambitions for Tamati, has been giving him pointers. At first, Astrid is understandably confused by a boy turning up in the middle of the night, but, like Tamati, she feels the link between them. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Astrid’s life at home and school is a little fraught, and Tamati turns out to be a good listener and has some ideas up his sleeve. Life isn’t that rosy for Tamati either, who feels the pressure of being the oldest child in the family, the one who is expected to do well all the time. His Koro believes he is destined to be a great leader and won’t let up on his plans. This is also a story about bullying and doing the right thing. Both Astrid and Tamati are bystanders who find themselves in tricky situations, ones they could avoid or walk away from, but both feel compelled to behave differently. The tie that binds them, being time twins, helps them overcome difficulties and dangers, making them more resilient and stronger. Time Twins is reminiscent of Margaret Mahy’s work for older children, with its real-life problems, relationship development and supernatural elements. The story moves along at a great pace, with plenty of challenges, moments of humour, and two very compelling characters. The writing from both authors works well - it feels seamless - and the local content - Tamati lives in Nelson South and the authors both have local connections - is the icing on the cake. 

30/12/2017 08:35 PM

The Writing of the Disaster by Maurice Blanchot   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
“The disaster ruins everything, all the while leaving everything intact.”The Writing of the Disaster concerns the effect upon language, upon literature, so to call it, of what Blanchot, thinking particularly of the Holocaust, calls the disaster: something beyond the reach of language yet sucking language towards it to the ultimate nullification of the meaning that language is usually thought to bear. The disaster does not concern itself with content, the disaster possesses the writing and is not and cannot be the subject of the writing. The writing of the disaster is not so much writing about the disaster as writing in the force-field of the disaster: The Writing of the Disaster concerns itself with the ways in which trauma takes ownership of writing. The ‘of’ in the title signals possession in the same way, perhaps, that all objects possess their subjects and by this relationship contend with them for agency. The disaster is a grammatical phenomenon, a loss of agency through grammar, a relation between elements rather than an element itself. Blanchot is remarkable for identifying the shifts of agency that result from grammatical alteration. It is in grammar, perhaps, that our problems lie, and it is in grammar, perhaps, that we must agitate for their solution. But it is in the nature of the disaster to protect itself with our passivity. “We are passive with respect to the disaster, but the disaster is perhaps passivity.” The disaster robs the writer of agency, cauterises meaning, averts all gazes and renders the usual useless. As Blanchot demonstrates, writing in the ambit of the disaster can only proceed in fragments. Failure and incompletion are both results of and assaults upon the impossible. “It is not you who will speak; let the disaster speak in you, even if it be by your forgetfulness or silence.” When writing of the reading of the writing of the disaster, the semantic degeneration of the disaster exercises itself even through the intervening writer, rendering them transparent. To re-read a passage of Blanchot is to read without recognition, to entertain thoughts quite different from, and rightly quite different from, those entertained on the first reading, or prior readings, of that passage. Thinking about reading about Blanchot writing about how the disaster affects everything but cannot be perceived, I write, “The disaster is that no distinction can be made between disaster and the absence of disaster,” but I cannot determine where this sentence comes from. I cannot find it in Blanchot's text. Whose thoughts are those thoughts thought when reading? If the thoughts cannot be located in the text, are they then the thoughts of the reader? If the thoughts would not have been thought by the reader without the text, to what extent are they the writer’s thoughts? (Do not ask if these thoughts are in fact thoughts. Let us call thought that which does the work of thought, regardless.) Blanchot proceeds around, or towards, the disaster in a fragmentary style, aphoristic but without the sense of completion aphorisms provide, he writes koans, or antikoans, that do not prepare the mind for enlightenment so much as relieve the mind of the possibility of, and even the concept of, enlightenment. Taken in small doses Blanchot is full of meaning but as the dose increases the meaning becomes less, until at the point of his complete oeuvre, I extrapolate, Blanchot means nothing at all. This liberation from semantic burden is entirely in accord with Blanchot’s project, so to call it. 


29/12/2017 05:53 PM


The last new books of 2017. More new books in 2018. 

H(A)PPY by Nicol(a) B(a)rker          $48
Winner of the 2017 Goldsmiths Prize for "fiction at its most novel".
“Nicola Barker’s H(A)PPY is a structural marvel to hold in the mind and in the hands. Line by line, colour by colour, this dystopic utopia is an ingenious closed loop of mass surveillance, technology, and personality-modifying psychopharmaceuticals. H(A)PPY is a fabulous demonstration of what the Goldsmiths Prize champions: innovation of form that only ever enriches the story. In Barker’s 3D-sculpture of a novel, H(A)PPY makes the case for the novel as a physical form and an object of art.” - Naomi Wood, Chair of Judges
The White Book by Han Kang        $28
What is this whiteness in the world? What does this whiteness mark the absence of? What does it provide the space for? Han Kang, who was awarded the Man Booker international Prize for the exquisite and harrowing The Vegetarian, and also wrote the astonishing Human Acts, pulls the emotional threads that connect her to her older sister, who died two hours after birth, and considers the impact of loss and absence on the world and those who continue to exist in it. Can language overcome pain? Can writing about death in some way provide new life? 

Tortot, The cold fish who lost his world and found his heart by Benny Lindelauf and Ludwig Volbeda       $28
A heartless field cook seems immune to the sufferings of war until he gives (without compassion) shelter to a boy who has lost not only his brothers but also his legs. Crazed, moving and wonderfully illustrated. 
In Search of Lost Books: The forgotten stories of eight mythical volumes by Giorgio van Straten          $28
Just because these books have been lost from history for one reason or another hasn't prevented them from being culturally important and the foci of intense speculation. What are we to make of the memoirs of Lord Byron, the magnum opus of Bruno Schulz, the Hemingway novel mislaid at the Gare de Lyon, the second part of Gogol's Dead Souls or the contents of Walter Benjamin's suitcase? 

Insomniac Dreams: Experiments with time by Vladimir Nabokov, edited by Gennady Barabtarlo         $50

For 80 days in 1964-65 Nabokov carefully recorded his dreams in order to test the theories of J.M. Dunne, explicated in the eccentric An Experiment in Time (1927), that time can be thought of as running backwards. The results give remarkable insight into Nabokov's concerns, thought-processes and inner life.

The Alarming Palsy of James Orr by Tom Lee      $28

As James Orr awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed by Bell's Palsy, leaving half his face paralysed. How does the sudden onset of an illness or disability affect the way we think of ourselves and the way others think of us, and the way we behave towards those close to us. A thoughtful and well written novella. 
Savage Theories by Pola Oloixarac         $35
A double-threaded narrative, each thread illuminating the other, concerning, on the one hand, a student pursuing a professor to demonstrate that she understands his Theory of Egoic Transmissions, and, on the other, a sort of sexual picaresque embedded in Argentina's Years of Lead in the 1970s. 
"A stunning vibrant maximalist whirlwind of a novel. Oloixarac's wit and ambition are evident on every page. By comparison, most other contemporary fiction seems a little dull and simple-minded." - Hari Kunzru
"An exuberant blend of political satire and sexual picaresque. This book rewards total immersion: come for the inevitable Borges allusions, stay for the wild ride." - The New York Times
Kai and Culture: Food stories from Aotearoa edited by Emma Johnson          $50
What does the food we eat tell us about who we are? What we eat is a manifestation of our cultural and personal identities and choices, and also an indication of who we are hoping or fearing to be. What ingredients make up our culture (and how long will it keep)? An interesting collection of illustrated essays. 
The Story of Looking by Mark Cousins     $55
What does it mean to look at something? Is looking passive or aggressive, expressive or empathetic? How are we bound to that at which we look? This book looks at the place of looking in our internal and communal lives, and helps us to think more about the visual world in which we find ourselves. 
The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLauchlan            $23
Teddy was raised by a poet and has an affinity with words, but only poets and children can hear a dog speak. Luckily, when two children are lost in the snow, they understand what Teddy says to them and they hold up in the cabin in which Teddy was raised. A quiet and beautiful story. 
A World Gone Mad: The wartime diaries of Astrid Lindgren, 1939-1945      $23
Provides insights into the Soviet invasion of Finland and the ambiguities of Swedish neutrality, and asks questions about the nature of evil, and our capacity, as individuals, to stand against malevolent forces, and of the everyday as resistance to the extraordinary. 
Lady Fanshawe's Receipt Book: The life and times of a Civil War heroine by Lucy Moore        $45
How did the upheavals, uncertainties and reversals of the mid-seventeenth century affect the lives of women? The records left by this Royalist lady are illuminating. 
The Rise of Rome: From the Iron Age to the Punic Wars by Kathryn Lomas        $55
How and why did a small group of Iron Age huts develop the requisites to establish an empire that would subsume much of the Western world and the Middle East? 
"Lomas's clear narrative and up-to-date archaeological knowledge is just the right combination to illuminate the fascinating story of the emergence of Rome as a world power." - Christopher Smith, Director of the British School at Rome
Rome: A history in seven sackings by Matthew Kneale       $45
The puncturing of Rome by exterior forces, from Gauls to the Nazis, has transformed the city and its place in wider history. Kneale compares the city before and after each attack and shows how each assault has made the city more dynamic and resilient. 
Blood and Land: The story of Native North America by J.C.H. King        $28
An astounding work, eschewing generalisation and instead emphasising and contrasting the great variety of experiences and cultures that populated and populate the United States, Canada and high arctic, from first contact until the successes and challenges of Native American leadership today. 
Untypical Girls: Styles and sounds of the Transatlantic indie revolution by Sam Knee      $45
From punk to postpunk through grunge and beyond, women have been remaking the music scene and assailing male definition of the underground.  
>> Identity!

Building Art: The life and work of Frank Gehry by Paul Goldberger     $45
Gehry has had vast impact on architectural design and practice through his rethinking of the relationship between materials and form. This is his first full biography. 
>> 29 buildings designed by Gehry
In the Bonesetter's Waiting-Room: Travels through Indian medicine by Aarathi Prasad    $28
The story of medicine in India is rich and complex: shaped by unique challenges and opportunities, uniting cutting-edge technological developments with ancient cultural traditions, fuelled by political changes which transformed the lives of millions and moulded by the energy of forceful individuals.

Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura          $23
In a coastal village in medieval Japan, a young boy battles to keep his family alive against the odds. With his father gone, Isaku is forced to grow up well before his time. He must learn how to catch fish, how to distil salt, and about all the mysteries of the vast churning sea, not least the legend of O-fune-sama, of ships wrecked offshore providing the village with unexpected bounty.When a ship founders on the rocks, Isaku and the villagers rejoice. But the cargo is not at all the blessing they hoped for. At first mystifying, then terrifying, something dark is coming ashore and it's about to change their lives forever.

The Orchid Hunter: A young botanist's search for happiness by Leif Bersweden       $28
A quest to find and photograph the 52 species of orchid native to Britain and Ireland in the field in one summer. 

>> He's only 19
Railways and the Raj: How the Age of Steam transformed India by Christian Wolmar        $55
66000km of tracks were laid in India between 1842 and 1929, enabling the British to control the subcontinent and exploit its resources. The railways have remained integral to the functioning of modern India (transporting over 25 million passengers each day). Stripped of false nostalgia for the Raj and all its deceptions, India's railways still emerge as vital and enabling. 

The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1963 by Ed Ward       $35
"Ward's writing is deeply researched, but conversational in tone. He nerds-out just the right amount, moving briskly from hit to hit and craze to craze, slowing down only to impart a few choice anecdotes. His faithful documentation of the genre's more obscure corners helps to point out that, early on, rock was weird. Ward underscores the vital point that rock was a music invented by people who knew better, but just couldn't help it." - The Washington Post
The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and Julie Sarda      $35
The Liszts (including their pets) make lists, which guide them through every aspect of their lives. What happens when a guest arrives who is not on anyone's list? Stunning illustrations. 
The Written World: How literature shaped history by Martin Puchner       $37
Stories coinciding with recording technologies have produced texts that are integral to wider history. 
"Lucid." - Kirkus

The King in Yellow by R.W. Chambers         $25
The four weird tales in this volume are all linked by a play, the second act of which reveals "truths so terrible and beautiful that it drives all who read it to despair". First published in 1895.
"Altogether one of the greatest weird tales ever written." - H.P. Lovecraft

Inside Out by J.R.         $119
In 2011 activist and artist J.R. embarked on a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work by pasting photographic portrait posters in diverse communities around the world (including Wellington). This remarkable book records the process and the results. 

Eat Me: A natural and unnatural history of cannibalism by Bill Schutt         $37
From the plot of Psycho to the ritual of the Eucharist, cannibalism is woven into our history, our culture and our medicine. And in the natural world, eating your own kind is everything from a survival strategy - practiced by polar bears and hamsters alike - to an evolutionary adaption. 

Against Everything: On dishonest times by Mark Greif       $24
"His generation's finest essayist. Taken as a whole the book is a powerful injunction to look, listen and reflect, our surest means of defiance against the encroaching dimness." - Richard Godwin, Evening Standard 
"Mark Greif writes a contrarian, skeptical prose that is at the same time never cynical: it opens out on to beauty and the possibility of change." - Zadie Smith 
"Mark Greif is the best essayist of my generation. No one is more modern or more classical - or more stylish. This has its alarming effects. When you read Against Everything, you will vow to change your life." - Adam Thirlwell
Now in paperback. 
The Happy Reader #10          $8
Includes an extended interview with bibliophile Jarvis Cocker, and an exploration of Yevgeny Zamyatin's early dystopian novel We.

Nemo's Almanac: A quiz for book lovers by Ian Patterson      $25
The 126th iteration of this annual literary quiz. How will you perform?
Diary Sale
30% off all diaries while stocks last (and the new year hasn't even started yet). Come in or click through to choose

24/12/2017 04:42 PM


Use the VOLUME GIFT SELECTOR to select books to give away, or to keep for yourself. Click to browse our recommendations.

>> Don't forget, you can always come and talk to us, or e-mail us, about your specific gift requirements. 

>> List #1: COOKBOOKS

>> List #2: POLITICS

>> List #3: BIOGRAPHY

>> List #4: SCIENCE

>> List #5: POETRY

>> List #6: FICTION

>> List #7: HISTORY




22/12/2017 09:42 PM


Saturday 23rd: 8:30 - 5

Sunday 24th: 9 - 5

Monday 25th: Closed

Tuesday 26th: Closed

Wednesday 27th: 9 - 5

Thursday 28th: 9 - 7

Friday 29th: 9 - 6

Saturday 30th: 8:30 - 4

Sunday 31st: 10 - 2

Monday 1st: Closed

Tuesday 2nd: 9 - 5  

(Normal hours resume)

17/12/2017 01:11 AM

BOOKS @ VOLUME  #54 (16.12.17).

Find out what we've been reading and recommending.
Use the VOLUME GIFT SELECTOR and keep abreast of the latest new releases. 

17/12/2017 12:44 AM

Our Book of the Week this week is an outstanding piece of New Zealand social and artistic history, beautifully illustrated: Strangers arrive: Émigrés and the arts in New Zealand, 1930-1980 by Leonard Bell (published by Auckland University Press)From the 1930s to the 1950s, forced migrants - refugees from Nazism, displaced people after World War II and escapees from Communist countries - arrived in New Zealand from Europe. Among them were extraordinary artists and writers, photographers, designers and architects whose European Modernism radically reshaped the arts in this country. How were migrants received by New Zealanders? How did displacement and settlement in New Zealand transform their work? How did the arrival of European Modernists intersect with the burgeoning nationalist movement in the arts in New Zealand? This book introduces us to a group of `aliens' who were critical catalysts for change in New Zealand culture. 

>> Leonard Bell on Radio NZ National

>> Was this a lonely exile? (Sally Blundel in the NZ Listener)

>> Some sample pages

>> Click and collect from VOLUME.

“New Zealand is neither a country nor a culture, it’s a branch of the Salvation Army.” - Theo Schoon