18/09/2017 01:50 PM

In 1893 New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant all women the right to vote. 19 September is Suffrage Day. You might like to mark the occasion by considering these half-a-dozen books on the politics of women in New Zealand: 
A History of New Zealand Women by Barbara Brookes       $70
Professor Barbara Brookes' achievement is phenomenal, spanning two centuries from 1814-2015. Looking at our society through the stories of women, the book tells the political and social history of New Zealand from a female perspective. In the early chapters Brookes covers Maori women’s place within Maoridom and early Paheka contact, early settler roles as missionary wives and traders, the colonial era where roles for both Maori and Pakeha women were altered by the circumstances of a new country, the tensions that arose and the changes to female roles either by design or necessity. The tone is perfectly set - readable, interesting history with enough analytical depth and a wealth of knowledge that places this work among our best histories. The overarching themes are dotted with specific examples of women and their lives in early New Zealand, giving both a depth of analysis and fascinating insights on a personal level, bringing history alive. These vivid accounts are well-illustrated with photographs, sketches, paintings, and maps on most pages.
He Reo Wahine: Maori women's voices from the nineteenth century edited by Lachy Paterson and Angela Wanhalla         $50
"This book presents a rich and ranging collection of Maori women speaking from the nineteenth-century archive. The hopes, the persistence, the effort to set down a cause are all apparent in the words of women presented in these pages. It is in various measures an inspiring, instructive and agonising read." - Charlotte Macdonald, Victoria University of Wellington
>> Disrupting the narrative of our colonial history
Polly Plum, A firm and earnest woman's advocate: Mary Ann Colclough, 1836-1885 by Jenny Coleman          $40
Coleman argues that Colclough was just as important as Kate Sheppard for the New Zealand women's movement in New Zealand.

The Women's Suffrage Petition / Te Petihana Whakamana Poti Wahine (1893)       $30
A full facsimile of the 270-metre long petition, with biographies of many of the 24000 signatories. 
The Whole Intimate Mess: Motherhood, politics and women's writing by Holly Walker         $15
"I began to pull the threads of my experience back together. Instead of divergent stories about public failure, private torment, and postnatal distress, I started telling myself a united story: the truth, or as close as I could get to it." A Rhodes scholar and former Green MP, Holly Walker tells the story of how she became one of New Zealand's youngest parliamentarians, how motherhood intervened, and how she found solace and solidarity in the writings of women. 

The Secret Diary of Charlotte Gatland by Patricia Charlotte Dennis        $39
In 1847, Gatland left London high society and travelled first to California during the gold rush, and then to New Zealand, about the social conditions of which (and the prevalent attitude towards women) she makes some very fresh observations. 

Risking Their Lives: New Zealand abortion stories, 1900-1939 by Margaret Sparrow         $40
No Country for Old Maids? Talking about the 'Man Drought' by Hannah August         $15
Does New Zealand's demographic gender disparity provide an opportunity to reconsider prejudices against singleness and nontraditional relationships? 
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 tales of extraordinary women edited by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo    $40
Kate Sheppard is one of the 100 outstanding women featured in this inspiring book. 

>> Read more about women's suffrage in New Zealand <here

17/09/2017 12:38 AM

Find out what we've been reading.
Find out what you'll be reading next.

Our latest newsletter: BOOKS @ VOLUME #41 (16.9.17)

17/09/2017 12:11 AM

edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris and packed full of stories, illustrations and amusements from top New Zealand writers and illustrators is this week's BOOK OF THE WEEK

“We channelled our younger selves: curious, discerning, up for anything. We tried to make a book we wish we’d be given. All the content is commissioned. This meant we were able to achieve a good balance of gender, ethnicity, and rural/urban experiences. We wanted to reach as many kinds of readers as possible.” - the editors

>> Find out who's included

>> Lots of teasers on the AnnualAnnual FaceBook page

>> Last year's Annual was hugely popular with children, critics and gift-givers. It is still just as fresh as the day it was published. 

>> Visit the Annual website.

>> Children's annuals have a long history. Here is a short history

>> Some amusements you can download

>> On creating the first Annual

We can gift-wrap and send this book to wherever and whoever you would like. 

17/09/2017 12:11 AM

Ostro by Julia Busuttil Nishimura      {Reviewed by STELLA}
Occasionally I treat myself to a new cookbook. There are many I would like to have on the shelves in the kitchen, but we don't have the room for all the gorgeous cookbooks that arrive at VOLUME. So, for a book to make the cut, it has to be extra tempting. Ostro from Melbourne foodie Julia Busuttil Nishimura made the cut. I was immediately attracted to the book (by its cover!). Usually, I don’t like cookbooks with a picture of the chef front and centre - even though I understand the marketing reasons for doing so. Anyway, here is Julia, relaxed, sated looking - a pose that says food is a delight and should be enjoyed - the look that you may have on your face when you’ve tasted something delicious or about to indulge. The subtitle, "The pleasure that comes from slowing down and cooking with simple ingredients", is so apt for her Italian/ Mediterranean influenced food and her philosophy about food and lifestyle: Slow down and enjoy. The recipes are divided into several categories, including Bread & Pizza, Vegetables, Pasta & Grain, Seafood & Meat, and Desserts - as well as cakes! There are everyday recipes, food for families, and special occasion dishes. The food style suits our climate and coastal location, where we ​enjoy the benefits of wonderful​,​ fresh local produce. I can’t wait to make and eat 'Soft Polenta with Bitter Greens and Walnuts' (just right for this time of year), 'Roasted Broccoli with Lemon, Garlic and Anchovy Crumbs', and 'Whole Orange Cake with Candied Fennel Seeds' (and many others: the gnocchi, the pizzas…. the roasted peach tart). Cookbooks not only have to have sumptuous recipes (ones that you will cook), they also have to look good to entice me to open and explore them. And this is a beautiful book.

PS: Also new - Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Helen Goh's Sweet - All Ottolenghi's cookbooks are superb and this is no exception. Just looking at these sweet treats makes you want to rush home to don your apron and have a reason to bake something splendid!

16/09/2017 07:15 PM

Walks With Walser by Carl Seelig  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
“When what is distant disappears, what is near tenderly draws nearer,” said Robert Walser, according to Carl Seelig, about walking in the fog. Walser’s collar is crooked, or worn, or both, he carries his furled umbrella under his arm along the mountain path, his hat is battered, the band torn, he is wearing a suit, somewhat raffish, somewhat the worse for wear, but he has no overcoat. Walser does not feel the cold, says Seelig. He enjoys the clouds, the rain. He distrusts clarity. Walser enjoys his walks with Seelig but asks Seelig not to call for him on any day but Sunday, so as not to disturb the routine of the asylum, in Herisau. There he assembles paper bags with glue, sorts beans and lentils, cleans the rooms. “It suits me to disappear,” says Walser, according to Seelig, “as inconspicuously as possible.” Even from his early days, according to Seelig, who did not know Walser in his early days and so must have had this information from Walser, or possibly another source, though no other source suggests itself, Walser took long walks to overcome the effects of nightmares. Or anxiety. Or the panic that results from the inability to engage. Not that Walser suffers from the inability to engage, exactly, though he seldom talks without prompting, not even to Seelig, says Seelig. Seelig spends little time with Walser in the asylum, but instead on the mountain paths, walking in the cloud, and in the rain, the best weather, to the small village inns where they enjoy this wine or that, or beer, or cider, and cutlets, or fied egges, or dumplings, or cheese pies, whatever they are, or meatloaf, and pommes frites, or cabbage, or mashed potatoes and peas and white beans. Seelig records it all, afterwards, each detail of the walk and of the food and the drink and the waitresses, and every word that Walser speaks, we suppose, or, anyway, at least the essentials. With great equivalence. Off they walk again together, over the ridge, around the base of the mountain, Switzerland has many ridges and many bases of mountains, to clear their heads after the wine, and then to catch the train that will return Walser to the asylum and Seelig to wherever Seelig lives. Walser “harbours a deep suspicion of the doctors, the nurses, and his fellow patients, which he nonetheless skilfully tries to hide behind ceremonial politeness,” says Seelig, who either observes Walser more frequently than is recorded or has this information from the doctors. Seelig becomes, after all, Walser’s guardian after the deaths of Walser’s brother Karl and his sister Lisa. He republishes Walser’s work. To no avail. But Seelig is invisible to us, through making Walser visible when Walser doesn’t want to be visible. Seelig is Walser’s Boswell. Seelig is the narrator of Walser now that Walser narrates nothing. “Restraint is my only weapon,” says Walser, narrates Seelig. The restraint that made Walser significant as a writer is no different from the restraint that stopped him writing. “The less plot a writer needs, and the more restrained the setting, the more significant his talent,” says Walser, the author of, first, novels, then stories, then feuilletons, thenmicroscripts approximating a millimeter in height in pencil on tiny scraps of paper, hidden about his person, in the Asylum in Waldau, unrecognised as actual writing until after his death, until they were deciphered in the 1990s, then nothing. When he first meets Seelig, because Seelig admires Walser's writing, Walser has already stopped writing. He has written nothing since he left Waldau and entered Herisau. Walser blames Hitler. Or society. Or the new superintendent at Waldau, according the Seelig. Walser blames editors, critics, other writers, according to Seelig. Walser’s work was admired by Kafka. He was admired by Benjamin, Sebald, Bernhard and Handke, according to them. To mention only a few. One critic called The Tanners “nothing more than a collection of footnotes,” according to Walser, according to Seelig. The Assistant was true, which is a surprise, at one time you could visit the advertising clock designed by Tobler, says Walser, says Seelig. Walser wrote the book in six weeks. The world changed. Walser changed, or he failed to change. He was celebrated and then increasingly ignored. He found it hard and then harder to get his work published. Even in the newspapers. “I could not perform for society’s sake,” says Walser, of his failure, according to Seelig, “All the dear, sweet people who think they have the right to criticise me and order me around are fanatical admirers of Herman Hesse. They are extremists in their judgement. That’s the reason I have ended up in this asylum. I simply lacked a halo, and that is the only way to be successful in literature,” says Walser to Seelig, according to Seelig, not without bitterness. Writing can only be done if it is the only thing done. Once, Walser alternated his writing with jobs as a servant or as a clerk, for money, for the time to write. Now he does not write. He wants to disappear. “It is absurd and brutal to expect me to scribble away even in the asylum. The only basis on which a writer can produce is freedom. As long as this condition remains unmet, I will refuse to write ever again,” says Walser, as recorded by Seelig. Walser’s turning away is from writing and from life. Walser's ceremonial politeness is his way of not existing, or of existing in his own absence. He is distant and withdrawn. He likes long walks, alone, we find out later, or with Seelig. He talks with Seelig, a little, when prompted, but not with others. As far as we know. The withdrawal that gives his writing such brilliance is the withdrawal that makes life unlivable, in the end, or at some point some way before the end, when one lets go of something, it is uncertain what, that everyone else grasps, naturally, or, more commonly, desperately, whatever it is, that keeps them clutching their lives. Walser, says Seelig, failed to take his own life, on more than a single occasion. His sister showed him the asylum at Waldau. He could think of no option but to enter. He did what was expected. He is diagnosed, when the term becomes available, as a catatonic schizophrenic, whatever that means, but his enjoyment of the walking, of the scenery, of the food and more especially the drink, and of the waitresses, seems genuine, at least through the eyes of Seelig, who knows him better than anyone, who sought him out because of his work and befriended him in the asylum and who accompanies him on long walks, who records everything and is sympathetic and transparent, at least to us, so that there is no reason to doubt Walser’s small and simple pleasures as they are recorded by Seelig, an affectionate man, on the level of smallness and simplicity at which they are experienced by Walser, who has set about perfecting smallness and simplicity until it resembles so very little it is almost nothing. Who is the sworn enemy of his own individuality. Who shows no emotion when told of the death of his brother, whom he loves, who refuses to break his routine to visit his sister, whom he loves, when she lies dying and asks him to come. “I too am ill,” says Walser, says Seelig. He doesn’t want to do what the other patients in the asylum aren't doing. He has an intestinal ulcer. “Must I be sick?” he asks the doctor, “Are you not satisfied to have me here in good health?” He refuses the operation. Just as well. “Is it true that you destroyed four unpublished novels?” asks Seelig. “That may be,” answers Walser, according to Seelig. Seelig says that Walser’s brother’s wife Fridolina had been told by Walser’s sister Lisa that Walser had destroyed a photograph of himself that had been taken by his brother Karl. “That may be,” answers Walser, records Seelig. Walser is convinced of his failure. At least of his inability to perform as he is expected to perform, to be successful as a writer, though he has an ambivalence towards success, to live even an ordinary life. Everything must be made smaller. “The snow has now turned to hail,” describes Seelig, of the weather. Walser carries steadfastly on. A life is full of details, even when those details are small, or insignificant, if there is such a thing as insignificant. If you wish to disappear you pay attention to the small. You have relinquished everything else and are relinquishing that too, with great care. The doctor says Walser has a disease of the lungs. It affects his heart. He should not leave the asylum grounds, says the doctor, according to Seelig. Walser accompanies Seelig to the train. The next time they walk, Walser does not walk well, says Seelig. He tires and stumbles. It seems there is not much of life left. Almost nothing. One day Walser goes for a walk. They find him later, face-up in the snow.

15/09/2017 10:22 PM

What will you read next?
Darker With the Lights On by David Hayden           $40
Beautifully written stories, every line considered and catching the reader in an onward rush to the very edge of literary possibility. 
"It's an open secret that David Hayden is one of the most interesting short story writers around. Why it's taken this long for his first collection to be published is beyond me but I, along with anyone with even the vaguest interest in looking at modernism anew, will be queuing up for a copy." - Eimear McBride 
"Quietly innovative, subtle of tone, full of feeling - this is a superb debut." - Kevin Barry
Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh          $65
What could be better than a new cookbook entirely devoted to baking and desserts from the author of several of the best cookbooks on your shelves? Ottolenghi and his long-time collaborator Goh present recipes that combine flavours and ingredients in interesting ways and yet are achievable, either easily or with a small amount of pleasurable effort. Delicious, beautifully presented and absolutely recommended for everyone from children to accomplished bakers.
>> Would you eat this?

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
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen brushes with death by Maggie O'Farrell        $35
Death could come to us at any time, and in a range of guises. O'Farrell builds the memoir around the times in her life when death was nearer than at other times: childhood illness, teenage misadventure, mismanaged labour. Does the proximity of death make us act differently? 
"O'Farrell is a breathtakingly good writer, and brings all her elegance and poise as a novelist to the story of her own life." - Guardian 
Hey Willy, See the Pyramids by Maira Kalman         $32
A classic of silliness and imagination, Kalman's wonderfully quirky illustrations accompany stories that foreground the creative workings of a child's mind. 

Annual 2 edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris         $40
Everything that was ever good about the children's annuals of the past is good about the annuals of the present compiled by Kate De Goldi and Susan Price to include the best New Zealand writing and illustration for children. Last year's Annual was hugely popular, and this year's will be, too. 

Companions by Christina Hesselholdt      $45
Camilla, Charles, Alma, Edward, Alwilda and Kristian are a circle of friends hurtling through mid-life. Structured as a series of monologues jumping from one friend to the next, Companions follows their loves, ambitions, pains and anxieties as they age, fall sick, have affairs, grieve, host dinner parties and move between the Lake District, Berlin, Lisbon, Belgrade, Mozambique, New York and, their homeland, Denmark. 
>> Read an excerpt.  

The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson      $25
When 10-year-old Siri's younger sister is captured by the Captain Whitehead's Ice Sea Pirates, she must face wolves, frozen landscapes and treacherous sailors and mermaids as she journeys through the north to rescue her. Completely involving. 
Taduno's Song by Odafe Atogun           $28
The day a stained brown envelope arrives from Taduno's homeland, he knows that the time has come to return from exile. Arriving full of trepidation, the musician discovers that his community no longer recognises him, believing that Taduno is dead. His girlfriend Lela has disappeared, taken away by government agents. As he wanders through his house in search of clues, he realises that any traces of his old life have been erased. All that was left of his life and himself are memories. But Taduno finds a new purpose: to unravel the mystery of his lost life and to find his lost love. From the author of Wake Me When I'm Gone
Antifa: The antifascist handbook by Mark Bray        $35
Traces the history of movements to counteract far-right, authoritarian and white supremacist movements from their roots in 1920s Europe to the grass-roots response to the fascist populism of Trump-era USA. The book also is a guide to recognizing and counteracting reactionary and racist invective and behaviour wherever it is found.
Mysteries of the Quantum Universe by Thibault Damour and Mathieu Burniat        $48
Quantum physics gets its graphic-novel explication as Bob and his dog Rick have crepes with Max Planck, chat with Einstein about atoms and hang out, uncertainly, with Heisenberg in Heligoland. 
"Billed as 'Tintin meets Brian Cox', the book was created by theoretical physicist Thibault Damour and illustrator Mathieu Burniat so it's as scientifically accurate as it is beautiful." - BBC Focus 

Colour by Marion Deuchars             $45
What makes a colour work? What do colours mean to artists or cultures? Why does grey make a colour stand out? What colour are the oceans? Why is the yellow of lemons something to treasure? Award-winning illustrator Marion Deuchars takes us on a journey through colour, showing how its language is at the centre of how we think and feel about the world.

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah      $35
"When Enebeli Okwara sent his girl out in the world, he did not know what the world did to daughters." Twelve stories set in Nigeria and the US, each concerning the way women and girls are treated, mixing realism and magic realism to vary the texture. 
"One of the pleasures of reading Lesley Nneka Arimah’s  collection is the feeling of being thrown off balance: not knowing where this playful and adventurous new talent will take you next. " - Guardian
Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration by Ellen Mara de Wachter       $60
An artist working with another artist or with other artists can, despite the difficulties, be creatively exciting. 25 duos or collectives share their perspectives on working together. 
"The notion that the best art can only come from a single artist working alone is something of a myth."—Linda Yablonsky
"Collaboration isn’t, for most artists, a recipe for making masterpieces but rather a way of breaking habits –and new ground."—Griselda Murray Brown
Up the River: Explore and discover New Zealand's rivers, lakes and wetlands by Gillian Chandler and Ned Barraud       $20/$30
The 'Explore and Discover' series is the perfect way for children to learn about New Zealand wildlife. 
>> Also new from Ned Barraud: Watch Out for the Weka!

As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Books and birds by Alex Preston and Neil Gower      $60
Ornithologists usually spend their time looking into the trees or out onto the water, but literary bird-spotter Alex Preston abandoned the outside world for the world of books. Here he surveys the incidence of avian specimens in literature: what do their wings carry into a reader's mind? Beautifully illustrated by Neil Gower. 
"Both a joyful and a wondrous book, one that successfully captures the otherness of birds, while celebrating our yearning to transcend our lot, our yearning to touch the unknowable." - Guardian
Precarity: Uncertain, insecure and unequal lives in Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Shiloh Groot et al                             $40
The precariat is a class-in-the-making. The precariat are our fellow citizens (if they are not us) for whom poverty, age, disability, homelessness, estrangement, mental or physical illness or estrangement from communities and cultures have resulted in uncertainty, dependency, powerlessness, perilousness and insufficiency. The precariat is very much an outcome of the dismantling of the welfare state and the violation of unwritten social contracts by the privileged. 
Floods Another Chamber by James Brown        $25
"Those who cannot remember the pasta / are condemned to reheat it."
Brown's sixth collection. 
I Was Told to Come Alone: My journey behind the lines of Jihad by Souad Mekhennet     $38
Why do young Muslim women and men reject their parents' dreams of economic betterment and personal freedom in favour of radical rebellion in the Middle East? Rooted in her own life story, Mekhennet reveals the Muslim immigrant roots of western Jihad. 

This Is How We Do It: One day in the lives of seven kids from around the world by Matt Lamothe       $38
Beautifully drawn comparisons between the everyday lives of seven actual children - how are they different and how are they the same? 

Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and life in Japan's disaster zone by Richard Lloyd Parry         $38
In 2011 over 18000 people were killed by the tsunami that hit the coast of Japan following a Richter 9.1 earthquake. The trauma impacted deeply in the minds of the survivors and has manifested in several surprising ways, including the experience of 'ghosts'. Parry looks at the psychological and cultural wounds of the disaster. 
"A remarkable and deeply moving book - describing in plain and perfect prose the almost unimaginable devastation and tragedy of the Japanese tsunami." - Henry Marsh
The Legendary Cuisine of Persia by Margaret Shaida         $65
At last, a new edition of this classic book. 
"Margaret Shaida's exquisite collection of recipes and fascinating information on the background and history of the food is both a joy and precious contribution to the world of gastronomy." - Claudia Roden
Ornament is Crime: Modernist architecture by Matt Gibberd and Albert Hill            $70
"Journeys between the decades to liberate Modernism from its traditional definitions and proposes its continuing presence in the work of 21st century architects. With elegant spreads and striking examples, this is an intriguing manifesto. Quotes from figures as diverse as Leonard Cohen and Kazimir Malevich reframe Modernism as a timeless dialogue." -Aesthetica

Room Little Darker by June Caldwell         $30
"Room Little Darker, June Caldwell’s debut collection, couldn’t get much blacker. It reads like boiling tar. The whole collection is an account of 'so much ugly craving'. The shape and conception of the stories are often shocking enough, but Caldwell’s linguistic verve is what keeps you paying attention, fascinated and appalled. A work more attentive to – and understanding of – the terrible derangements of simply being alive I have not read in a long time." - Ian Sansom, Guardian

This Way, That Way by Antonio Ladrillo        $19
A very cleverly designed interactive picture book, in which flexure of the page segments creates a range of fascinating and hilarious characters. 
The White City by Karolina Ramqvist          $23
Now that Karin's high-flying criminal boyfriend is gone, how can she pull herself and her baby from the depths of her despair?
"A story of high tension, startling insights and lasting resonance." - Siri Hustvedt
"A short novel moving at a slow, suspenseful pace that matches Karin's post-natal sense of disconnection, and does a remarkable job of conveying the physicality of motherhood and the desperation of her circumstances." - Glasgow Sunday Herald
The Islamic Enlightenment: The modern struggle between faith and reason by Christopher de Bellaigue       $40
The Muslim world has often been accused of a failure to modernise, reform and adapt. But, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day, Islamic society in its Middle Eastern heartlands has in fact been transformed by modern ideals and practices, including the adoption of modern medicine, the emergence of women from purdah and the development of democracy. Who were the scholars and scientists, writers and politicians that brought about these remarkable changes? And why is their legacy now under threat?
Anatoki Settlers: The story of two pioneering families, Spittal and Gooch by Gary Langford           $58
A Golden Bay local history with a remarkable collection of primary sources on Kotinga, Anatoki and Long Plain areas, with much research material on Takaka, land titles, inquests and new information about the Motupipi coal mine. 
Michael Faraday and the Electrical Century by Iwan Rhys Morus        $25
Albert Einstein kept a photograph of Faraday on his wall.
 "When we consider the magnitude and extent of his discoveries and their influence on the progress of science and of industry, there is no honour too great to pay to the memory of Faraday, one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time." - Ernest Rutherford
Risking Their Lives: New Zealand abortion stories, 1900-1939 by Margaret Sparrow         $40
Fills the gap between Rough on Women: Abortion in 19th-Century New Zealand and Abortion Then and Now: New Zealand Abortion Stories from 1940 to 1980 to give a full picture of of the historic battle for women's bodies. 
Juridical Encounters: Maori and the colonial courts, 1840-1852 by Shaunnagh Dorsett            $50
In theory, Maori, as subjects of the Queen, were to be ruled by British law. But in fact, outside the small, isolated, British settlements, most Maori and many settlers lived according to tikanga. How then were Maori to be brought under British law? Influenced by the idea of 'exceptional laws' that was circulating in the Empire, the colonial authorities set out to craft new regimes and new courts through which Maori would be encouraged to forsake tikanga and to take up the laws of the settlers. 
Mobitecture: Architecture on the move by Rebecca Roke        $35
Full of inventive ideas and creative solutions to practical problems. Includes houseboats, huts, and tricked-out caravans, alongside disaster shelters, wearable structures, and futuristic prototypes.

David Bowie, A life by Dylan Jones          $40
Possibly the most intimate portrait of Bowie likely to be written, Jones bases his work on 200 interviews with key figures in Bowie's life and career, many of whom had not previously spoken. 
>> Launching a hundred faces
The Book of Bones by Gabrielle Balkan and Sam Brewster       $35
Have a look at the skeletons. Can you work out which animal they belong to, and where the animal lives? Why do these animals have the skeletons they do? Full colour images with textured skeletons give an idea how the animal operates in its natural habitat. 
>> Dry bones

10/09/2017 01:38 AM

BOOKS @ VOLUME   #40 (9.9.17)

Our latest newsletter of reviews, news and new releases. 

10/09/2017 12:19 AM

Our Book of the Week for Maori Language Week is Sleeps Standing / Moetu by Witi Ihimaera, with parallel text in Maori by Hemi Kelly. 
The three-day siege of the Battle of Orakau in 1864, in which 1700 Imperial troops laid siege to a hastily constructed pa sheltering 300 Maori men, women and children, marked the effective end of the Waikato War. Ihimaera tells the history from the point of view of a Moetu, a boy on the side that refused to submit and fought to the end. First-hand accounts and documentary illustrations are included in this book. 

>> Read Stella's review

>> Rewi's Last Stand

>> Remembering the Tuhoe and Ngati Maniapoto who defended Orakau

>> A strange computer-generated simulation of the fortifications

>> Commemorative haka, 150 years later

>> Hemi Kelly on Radio New Zealand

>> "Ka whawhai tonu matou, Ake! Ake! Ake!"  Rewi Maniapoto continues to fight for Maori land

>> Vincent O'Malley's The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato, 1800-2000 gives excellent analysis of the wider Waikato War and its contexts. 

10/09/2017 12:19 AM

{Reviewed by STELLA}

Sleeps Standing / Moetū is a bilingual Maori-English novella from Witi Ihimaera with a translation by Hēmi Kelly. Set against the backdrop of the New Zealand Wars, it tells the story of the Battle of Ōrākau through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Moetū. A blend of fact and fiction, it draws on primary resources (some of which are included in the appendices) and other historical and cultural material (illustrations, photographs, and stills from the film Rewi’s Last Stand, and waiata). Ihimaera takes up the story as a retelling of ancestral history to a new generation. When Simon arrives from Sydney with his heavily pregnant girlfriend requesting the name  Moetū for their soon-to-arrive child, Papa Rua and his sister, the matriarch of the family, tell Moetū’s story, and here unfolds the defence of Ōrākau and the wider story of Maori fighting for their land and their lives against the colonial forces and the crown’s insatiable appetite for land and control. The defence of Ōrākau in 1864 lasted three days. The Maori group of 300, lead by Rewi Maniapoto, included Rangatira, leaders, and warriors of high standing from several tribal groups who joined together in defiance. The colonial troops numbered 1700 and far exceeded the Maori not only in numbers but in rations and weaponry, with more guns, ammunition, and grenades. The 300 at Ōrākau included women and children, and, between them, they had a small assortment of guns, their taiaha and mere. The colonial troops arrived earlier than expected, before all the fortifications were in place, and they quickly cut off access to food and water supplies. Before the end of the second day, water was scarce, food almost non-existent and many had been wounded or killed. The group had no intention of surrendering and clever ruses, as well as ingenious planning and fierce fighting, kept the troops at bay for a further day. While many lost their lives and the pa was overrun by the superior forces, several escaped - many to fight for their land and people in further battles. Moetū, a clever young man, is quickly recognised for his strategic abilities and is given the task of caring for the children and nursing mothers. He not only is able to care for them, but also takes control of the armory, and utilises the children to distribute the dwindling supplies of ammunition (some of which was peach stones and bullets fashioned from wood) to each fighting sector. When Ōrākau falls, Moetū, along with several others his age, is charged with taking the children to safety through the swamp, armed horse-backed soldiers at their heels, and into the forest, and finally to take these orphans home to their various iwi, a task that takes several months, hiding from colonial forces (Maori were banned from travelling in groups and had a 6pm curfew) and avoiding skirmishes. Few novels have been written about the New Zealand Wars. There are many stories to be told, particularly from the Maori viewpoint, and Ihimaera does this incredibly well, bringing this history to life in an accessible manner, writing a beautiful novella that is a love story, a fascinating account of an incredible battle - an account which is historically accurate and informative, a compelling and compassionate tale of one young man, and a glimpse into the courageous lives of those he fought with. Yet is more than this, it is a history that needs to be heard, that needs to be understood, injustices talked about and addressed. Reading this will compel you to seek out more accounts, both factual and fictional, to understand and learn from our histories. 

10/09/2017 12:19 AM


The Broken Book by Fiona Farrell   {Reviewed by STELLA}
In preparation for my conversation with Fiona Farrell at the Mapua Literary Festival about her latest novel Decline and Fall on Savage Street, I’ve been reading The Broken Book. This was meant to be a book about travel, about her passion for walking and noticing. It was a step into the world of non-fiction, a collection of essays triggered by her time in Menton as the Katherine Mansfield Fellow in 1995 and the Rathcoola Residency in Ireland in 2006. Writing this in Dunedin in 2011 (as the recipient of the Burns Fellowship), this book became a very different one from the one intended. The earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 changed everything. The essays are still there, three of them, entitled 'A Walk in the Cevennes', 'A Walk to the Winter Palace', 'A Walk to the Botanic Gardens', along with the fourth, 'A Walk on Shaky Ground'. Interspersed with these texts are 20 ‘earthquake’ poems, setting the scene for what is to come. It’s a disconcerting read, as we all know the impact of these earthquakes and how they continue (and will do so for several generations) to mark people’s lives, the landscape, and the psyche. When Farrell is walking the trails in France we walk alongside, carefree, taking the history, her stories of the past and present, in our stride - enjoying her meandering style walking-pace. Then we are thrown into self-doubt, into a shaken up world, as a poem presses itself between these jottings - with words like fractured, cracks, lost, broken, all prick and agitation. This displacement of the reader is cleverly arranged, making the book one that beguiles with places traveled and unsettled by the impending disruption of the earth quaking. The Broken Book was a nonfiction finalist for the New Zealand Book Awards in 2012 and, in 2016, The Villa at the Edge of the Empire (the companion work to her new novel) was just as well received.


10/09/2017 12:12 AM


My All by Sophie Calle     {Reviewed by THOMAS}
In the same way that photography is a crime against time, My All, a retrospective survey of photographer Sophie Calle’s various projects over her thirty-year career, is a crime against retrospective surveys, and for pretty much the same reasons. Calle eschews the magisterial tendencies of retrospective surveys by producing one comprised of 110 loose postcards, thus violating both any expected sequentiality (the cards can be arranged in any order, defeating any attempt at narration or development) and any expected omnitudity (the cards can be send or left out or lost or pinned up with no obvious detriment to the remainder). In doing so, she makes this collection into a project of its own. Almost all of Calle’s work has consisted of constraint-determined experiments (i.e. games) playing with the properties of the photograph as an instant wrenched out of time but so strongly implying a narrative that one will be created by the viewer of the image from their own charged mental fields (‘imagination’, in its literal sense). The divergence between the two contexts of the image tells us also something of the operations of memory, which similarly separates instants from the continuums that induced them and builds narratives to support them using disparate, unreliable and often inappropriate materials. All photographs are challenges to narrative and memory, and Calle is remarkable in the subtlety and in which she uses her camera to record and provoke at the edges of the acceptable and the expected. She is often particularly interested in the biographical power of images, and in the place of objects in bridging (or widening) the disjunction between time and the memory of time, between what is seen and what is hidden, between the public/shared and private/personal spheres. Always interested in transgressing limits as a way of understanding the mechanisms of those limits, Calle’s playful rigours move the viewer in and out of contexts and reveal in us motivations and responses that we had perhaps hitherto not suspected.

10/09/2017 12:12 AM

Essayism by Brian Dillon   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
An essay is at once a wound and an act of piercing. An essay is not only about (‘about’) its subject but also, whether the writer is aware of this or not, about (‘about’) writing about the subject (and also, by extension, about (‘about’) reading about the subject (although Brian Dillon in his excellent and thoughtful book Essayism is interested primarily the writing of essays (or rather in what he terms ‘essayism’: “not the practice of the form but an attitude to the form - to its spirit of adventure and unfinished nature - and towards much else. Essayism is tentative and hypothetical, and yet it is also a habit of thinking, writing and living that has definite boundaries.” (note here, incidentally, the introduction of the subject of this review within (closer to the surface, though, than this observation) two levels of parentheses)))). An essay is a transparent barrier, a means of focus at once providing intimacy with and distance from its subject, or, better metaphor (if any metaphor can be better than another (and better by what criteria, we might ask (though that is another matter))), an essay is a stick at once both joining and separating the writer and the subject, a tool by which the writer can lever weight upon the subject, which, although never able to be wrenched free from its context (what we might call the hypersubject), a context innately amorphous, unwieldable and inconceivable, provides a point of leverage from which the writer may rearrange the disposition of that grab-bag (or “immense aggregate” (William Gass)) of feelings, thoughts and impressions that is, out of convenience and little more, referred to as the self. To write is to continually and simultaneously pull apart and remake the ‘I’ that writes. An essay is, in Dillon’s words, “a combination of exactitude and evasion,” an eschewing of the compulsion for, or the belief in the possibility of, completion or absolutism, an affirming instead of the fragmentary, the transitory, the subjective. The operating principle of the essay is style, the advancing of the text “through the simultaneous struggle and agreement between fragments,” the production of “spines or quills whose owner evades and attacks at the same time.” Style is the application of form to content, or, rather, form results from the application of style to content. Style can be applied to any subject with equivalent results. Essayism is an essay about essays, or a set of essays about essays, about the reading and, more devotedly, the writing of essays, about the approaches to, reasons for and functions of essays. Dillon especially examines the connection, for him at least, between the essay and depression: “Writing had become a matter of distracting myself from the urge to destroy myself” (even though “away from my desk it was possible to suppress or ignore the sense of onrushing disaster” (suggesting perhaps that it was only writing itself that presents the void from which it must then rescue the writer (always at the risk of failure))). Is the essay a cure or palliative for depression, or a contributor to, or ‘styler’ of, depression? “What if the ruinous and rescuing affinity between depression and the essay is what got you into this predicament in the first place? Will a description of how you made your way along the dry riverbeds of prose and self-pity provide any clues as to how to get out of the gulch again? How to connect once more, if in fact you have ever really known it, with the main stream of human experience? Such questions seem too large, too embarrassing even - though they have never been too grand for the essay. Or they may seem too small, too personal. Same answer.” As the best essays do, Essayism provides understanding without answers and leaves the reader with a habit of thinking, writing and living which will help them to ask just the sorts of unanswerable questions about their own experience, so to call it, that will increase both their intimacy with and detachment from it.

08/09/2017 01:54 PM

Any of these new books could be in your hands in a jiffy. 

Animal: A beastly compendium by Remi Mathis, Valerie Sueur-Hermel and Michel Pastoureau     $65
A beautifully illustrated and absorbing compendium of real and mythical beasts with 100 images from the collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. 
Knots by Gunnhild Øyehaug       $45
"From my first reading of Knots I have been been captivated by Gunnhild Øyehaug's wit, imagination, ironic social commentary, and fearless embrace of any and every form of storytelling. These are stories to be relished, inspiring in their art and humanity both. How fortunate that we can now read them in Kari Dickson's sparkling and magically faithful English." - Lydia Davis
"Formally playful, poignant, understated, and often acutely funny. A near-perfect collection about the knots we tie ourselves into and the countless ways we intertwine in the pursuit of sex, love, compassion and family." - Kirkus
The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi          $37
On a quest to explain how and why his father mysteriously disappeared twenty years ago, a writer embarks on an epic journey in search of a stolen bicycle and soon finds himself immersed in the strangely overlapping histories of the Japanese military during World War II, Lin Wang, the oldest elephant who ever lived, and the secret world of antique bicycle collectors in Taiwan. 
From the author of The Man with the Compound Eyes
Wake Me When I'm Gone by Odafe Atogun        $33
A novel steeped in the folklore and traditions of life in a Nigerian village. 
“A beautiful, dreamlike story which lingers in the mind and heart. There is oppression and tragedy, sincerely conveyed, but there is also remarkable triumph, a stunning rebirth and shimmering hope. A treat - especially for fans of Ben Okri and Elechi Amadi” - Leila Aboulela
Elmet by Fiona Mozley         $35
A beautifully written novel about the relationship between a family and a landscape after the father's decision to withdraw from society. Long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. 
"I already feel like I've won.

Giacometti edited by Frances Morris, Lena Fritsch, Catherine Grenier and Mathilde Lecuyer     $60
A good survey of his work, well illustrated, with a thoughtful alphabetical exploration of themes and influences. 

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit        $37
Randolph, a successful architect, and his family move into a beautiful apartment in a desirable part of Berlin. Life seems perfect - until they meet the man living in the basement below them. Their downstairs neighbour is friendly at first, if a little strange, but then he starts to frighten them. And the situation quickly becomes intolerable.
"Fear shifts our moral codes. It makes us sympathetic to violent revenge, accessories to murder. Do we want the victim to survive? No, we don't. Long after I had put this book down I still didn't. A great achievement." - Herman Koch
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart          $23
Imogen is an heiress, a runaway, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a chameleon, and a liar. Imogen is done pretending to be perfect, and Jule refuses to go back to the person she once was. Somewhere between the mansions of Martha's Vineyard and the shores of Cabo San Lucas, their intense friendship takes a dark turn. From the author of We Were Liars

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie           $37
The last decade of life in Manhattan is distilled in the lives of the Golden tycoon family, as seen through the eyes of their neighbour.
"A modern masterpiece. If you read a lot of fiction, you know that every once in a while you stumble upon a book that transports you, telling a story full of wonder and leaving you marveling at how it ever came out of the author's head. The Golden House is one of those books." - NZ Herald
"This is a recognizably Rushdie novel in its playfulness, its verbal jousting, its audacious bravado, its unapologetic erudition, and its sheer, dazzling brilliance." - Thrity Umrigar, Boston Globe

My All by Sophie Calle          $45
A retrospective survey of the projects of this photographer in the form of 110 postcards, one for each of her experiments in the ambivalences of photography and memory.  

Camping on the Wye: Four Victorian gents row the Wye in a randan skiff in 1892 by S.K. Baker        $20
A rather charming facsimile edition of a hand-drawn and hand-lettered account. 
Why Are We Artists? 100 world art manifestos edited by Jessica Lack        $30
This collection of 100 artists' manifestos from across the globe over the last 100 years brings together activists, post-colonialists, surrealists, socialists, nihilists and a host of other voices. From the Negritude movement in Africa and Martinique to Brazil's Mud/Meat Sewer Manifesto, from Iraqi modernism to Australia's Cyberfeminist Manifesto, they are by turns personal, political, utopian, angry, sublime and revolutionary. Some have not been published in English before.
Made at Home: The food I cook for the people I love by Giorgio Locatelli          $60
Locatelli's books are remarkable not only for their exquisite, authentic and achievable recipes, but for the personable way in which he imparts his knowledge of Italian food and food culture. His Made in Italy is a classic in the field. 
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit            $25
A new edition of Solnit's fascinating book on the benefits of wandering, being lost, losing yourself and things and other people, and in the uses of the unknown. 
>> Other books by Solnit at VOLUME
The Occupation Trilogy (La Place de l'Étoile/The Night Watch/Ring Roads) by Patrick Modiano        $25
Three earl novels recording the authors memories of growing up in occupied Paris, and of the antiSemitism practised by occupiers and occupied alike. The novels also bear witness to Modiano's emergence as a writer. 
Human Rights and the Uses of History by Samuel Moyn        $22
What are the origins of human rights? Who gets to decide what they are? Can human rights be legitimately used as a justification for political or even military intervention? 
Crazy About Cats by Owen Davey         $30
Beautifully illustrated and full of feline facts. 
>> Also available: Smart About Sharks and Mad About Monkeys.
Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Impossibility by Franco "Bifo" Berardi         $37
Stuck between global war and global finance, between identity and capital, we seem incapable of producing the radical change that is so desperately needed. Meanwhile the struggle for dominance over the world is a battlefield with only two protagonists: the forces of neoliberalism on one side, and the new order led by the likes of Trump and Putin on the other. How can we imagine a new emancipatory vision, capable of challenging the deadlock of the present? Is there still a way to disentangle ourselves from a global order that shapes our politics as well as our imagination? Is the Slough of Despond just beyond, or on this side of, the Horizon of Impossibility?
Futures of Black Radicalism edited by Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin        $39
Surveys the black radical traditions since the nineteenth century to provide context for the new international wave of protests and awareness, tied to a critique of capitalism, privilege and power. 
>> Angela Davis on TV

A Girl Walks into a Book: What the Brontës taught me about life, love, and women's work by Miranda Pennington        $28
What is the relationship between the books we read and the lives we lead?

Basket of Deplorables by Tom Rachman        $24
Almost true stories for a post-truth world. Does being an American mean anything any more? 
"These bang-up-to-the-minute stories feel like essential reading as we get to grips with a bizarre new era." - Guardian

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney         $25
"Like taking a street-level tour through six decades of new York."  - New York Times

The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich        $38
"Why, having stood up for and held their own place in a once absolutely male world, have women not stood up for their history? Their words and feelings? A whole world is hidden from us. Their war remains unknown. I want to write the history of that war. A women's history." An important oral history of Russian women's experiences in World War Two, in English for the first time. 
The Anatomy of Inequality: its social and economic origins - and solutions by Per Molander       $38
Why do some of the wealthiest countries, such as the US, have the greatest levels of inequality, and the poorest quality of life for many of their citizens? Molander looks widely at the causes of inequality and examines steps that can be taken to address injustice and to rectify inequality and its resulting social ills. 
""For a long time, I've been shaking the most debated book of the spring, Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Now, out falls the core: Per Molander's The Anatomy of Inequality." - Aftonbladet
Living with a Dead Language: My romance with Latin by Ann Patty     $35
"Studying Latin for fun in later life is a niche fantasy, but the impulse to do something substantial is a more widely shared experience. So is the desire to repair some deficit of one's youth. Patty's book is an effort on the part of the author to decipher her own life by deciphering two-thousand-year old texts. Most vital are the moments in which Patty lets her word-nerd flag fly." - The New Yorker
>> She doesn't move her lips.
The 9th Floor: Conversations with five New Zealand Prime Ministers by Guyon Espiner and Tim Watkin         $40
Geoffrey Palmer (The Reformer); the Trader: Mike Moore (The Trader); Jim Bolger (The Negotiator); the Challenger: Jenny Shipley (The Challenger); Helen Clark (The Commander). 
>> The Podcasts
The Rookie: An odyssey through chess (and life) by Stephen Moss       $19
What is the essence of chess? How has chess developed alongside society? What can learning chess teach you about yourself and about how to operate in the world? Can you escape dilettantism in your chosen field and become an expert?  What does in mean to 'win'? Moss alternates 64 'black' and 'white' chapters in this engrossing book.
>> Personality is both the ultimate strength and the ultimate weakness

The Less You Know, the Sounder You Sleep by Juliet Butler       $35
Conjoined twins with very different personalities are trapped with each other and also hidden away s 'defective' in Soviet society. 
>> Based on a true story
Sky Full of Stars: Penpals across a century by Sheila Kennard and Harold Musson      $45
Harold Musson wrote almost daily to his wife from the trenches of France during World War One, giving a vivid picture of life under unnatural conditions. Kennard's return letters, written for this book, chart her journey of discovery about her grandfather's life. Local author. 

Consciousness: Confessions of a romantic reductionist by Christof Koch        $45
What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states?

The Teabowl: East and West by Bonnie Kemske        $88
Surveys the wider manifestations of this icon of ceramic art. 
>> The changing context of the teabowl. 

Little Bird Goodness by Megan May           $60
More than 130 irresistible, mostly raw, plant-based recipes from the author of The Unbakery.  

06/09/2017 03:16 PM

These thirteen excellent books have been long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. The short list will be announced on 13 September. 
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster       $37
Paul Auster’s first book in seven years, 4 3 2 1, follows the life of Archibald Isaac Ferguson born March 3, 1947. It’s not one life though: this Jewish boy born in Newark has 4 lives. Auster tells the story in parts - four strands - in sliding door style. In each part a fateful event at Archibald's father’s business (a burglary, a fire, a tragic accident and a buyout) leads to a change in circumstances for the family, and Archie’s life is determined by how his immediate family respond. Fate plays her part and Archie’s life is altered. The minutiae of Ferguson’s life are delightfully told and, despite the variations in his circumstances, his characteristics along with those of his immediate family keeps the four strands linked together. 

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry        $37
After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged 17, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. They find these days to be vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both witness and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and endangered when a young Shawnee woman crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges. 
"Days Without End is a work of staggering openness; its startlingly beautiful sentences are so capacious that they are hard to leave behind, its narrative so propulsive that you must move on. In its pages, Barry conjures a world in miniature, inward, quiet, sacred; and a world of spaces and borders so distant they can barely be imagined." - Guardian
History of Wolves by Emily Fridland        $33
Linda, age 14, lives on a dying commune on the edge of a lake in the Midwest of America. She has grown up isolated both by geography and her understanding of the world, and is an outsider at school, regarded as a freak. One day she notices the arrival of a young family in a cabin on the opposite side of the lake. She starts to befriend them, and for the first time she feels a sense of belonging that has been missing from her life. Leo, the father, is a university professor and an enigmatic figure, perpetually absent. When he returns home, Linda is shunned by the family unit. Desperate to be accepted again, she struggles to resume her place in their home and fails to see the oncoming consequences. 
"So much is accomplished here, not least a kind of trust that this writer will make everything count, including the kind of data that is usually left for dead in a story." - Ben Marcus
Exit West by Moshin Hamid          $37
What place is there for love in a world torn by crisis? From the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist
"Exit West is a novel about migration and mutation, full of wormholes and rips in reality. It is animated by a constant motion between genre, between psychological and political space, and between a recent past, an intensified present and a near future." - The Guardian

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor                 $35
A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed. The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. One tragedy affects the lives of many people. 
"Absolutely magnificent; one of the most beautiful, affecting novels I've read in years. The prose is alive and ringing. There is so much space and life in every sentence. I don't know how he's done it. It's beautiful." - Eimear McBride 
"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
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack          $23
Written in one long sentence (in which line breaks perform as a higher order of comma), McCormack’s remarkable and enjoyable book succeeds at both stretching the formal possibilities of the novel (for which it was awarded the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize) and in being a gentle, unassuming and thoughtful portrait of a very ordinary life in a small and unremarkable Irish town. The flow of McCormack’s prose sensitively maps the flow of thought, drawing feeling and meaning from the patterning of quotidian detail as the narrator dissolves himself in the memories of which he is comprised. This wash of memory suggests that the narrator may in fact be dead, the narrative being the residue (or cumulation) of his life, the enduring body of attachments, thoughts and feelings that comprise the person. Few novels capture so well the texture of a person’s life, and this has been achieved through a rigorous experiment in form. 
Elmet by Fiona Mozley         $35
A beautifully written novel about the relationship between a family and a landscape after the father's decision to withdraw from society.  
"An impressive elemental, contemporary rural noir steeped in the literature and legend of the Yorkshire landscape and its medieval history." - Guardian
"I already feel like I've won.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy         $38
"How to tell a shattered story? By slowly becoming everybody. No. By slowly becoming everything." Twenty years after The God of Small Things, Roy's second novel braids together many lives and strands as they pass through harm and healing. 
>> "Fiction takes its time."
>> Where do old birds go to die? (an extract from the novel).
>> Roy speaks with Kim Hill.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders      $33
Is this The American Book of the Dead? Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son Willie died of typhoid in 1862. This inventive and much-anticipated novel from the author of the Folio Prize-winning Tenth of December has a president, "freshly inclined toward sorrow," driven by grief into communion with the disembodied spirits of the dead in what becomes a meditation on the force of death in personal and collective histories, notably the American Civil War. 
>> Read the review in The New York Times
>> Saunders speaks.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie         $27
Family, society, love and religion clash in this modern reworking of the themes of Antigone
"Home Fire left me awestruck, shaken, on the edge of my chair, filled with admiration for her courage and ambition. Recommended reading for prime ministers and presidents everywhere." - Peter Carey 

Autumn by Ali Smith          $26
In a nation divided against itself, who is looking to the future and who to the past, and how is love won and lost?
"Transcendental writing about art, death and all the dimensions of love. It's not so much 'reading between the lines' as being blinded by the light between the lines - in a good way." - Deborah Levy 
"Smith is more valuable than a whole parliament of politicians." - Financial Times 
"Undoubtedly Smith at her best. Puckish, yet elegant; angry, but comforting." - The Times
Swing Time by Zadie Smith          $26
Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early 20s, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.
"Brilliant." - Guardian
"Superb." - Financial Times 
"Virtuosic and breathtaking." - Times Literary Supplement 
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead        $25
A young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia takes the opportunity to escape to the North and freedom aboard the Underground Railroad, which, in this Pulitzer-prize winning novel, is a boxcar railway literally under the ground. A meditation on race and the way that history is perceived. 
"A brutal, vital, devastating novel. This is a luminous, furious, wildly inventive tale that not only shines a bright light on one of the darkest periods of history, but also opens up thrilling new vistas for the form of the novel itself." - Observer

Come and tell us which book you would choose to win the 2017 Man Booker Prize. 

03/09/2017 12:48 AM

BOOKS @ VOLUME  #39   (2.9.17)

Our latest newsletter (reviews, news, new releases).

02/09/2017 11:58 PM

Our Book of the Week this week will takes you places that you have never been and to which you are unlikely ever to go (except by opening this book). Judith Schalansky's ATLAS OF REMOTE ISLANDS: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will is a beautifully produced volume that does everything an atlas can do to engage the imagination: the maps of each island are spare and mysterious and beautifully drawn, the text accompanying each delineates fact but, largely due to the incompletely resolved nature of the histories, there is plenty of room for the reader to activate their imagination to occupy the spaces, and the whole book is well and subtly made. The stories of travellers to or inhabitants of these remote spots of land surrounded by vast oceans are stories of loneliness, refuge and utopianism, of human dreams washed up on rocky shores, of the oddities of nature or society that can flourish only away from the masses, either of land or of people. This is a completely absorbing book. 

>> Keep an eye on our FaceBook page this week, for our daily Remote Island of the Day.

>> "You can tell world history by islands. That is why I call them footnotes to the mainland."

>> "Books are not a form of fetishism."

>> Is the appearance of a book as important as its content? 

>> "I don't even trust my own memory."

>> Schalansky goes to an island.

>> And how many bones are there in a giraffe's neck? 

02/09/2017 11:57 PM

Minicry   {Review by STELLA}
In the case of Minicry, smallness is a gem, a very small zine that will fit into your wallet or purse. I suggest you carry a Minicry with you wherever you go. This special limited edition from the Mimicry literary journal team, is printed in three colours (blue, yellow and pink), hand stitched, illustrated by Kate Depree with line drawings of little bits and pieces (a thimble, a leaf, those bread bag tags, a chess piece (notably just a pawn), a reel of cotton, an ant, a screw, a ring… and more) for the endpapers along with specific drawings to illustrate the texts. The writings include an email message, a tweet, some short poems, a headline and a list. The writers include Ashleigh Young, Kirsten McDougall, Courtney Sina Meredith, Henry Cooke and Uther Dean. Each day I have a new favourite page - today it is the email extract from Guy Montgomery “I had my headphones in, Google maps open and no music playing: the perfect crime.”  Only a few pages long, it is surprising how much pleasure this little publication gives - a reminder that it pays to slow down and look at each page with awareness, to read carefully, to explore, think and enjoy. The hand-made aesthetic definitely adds to the pleasure of Minicry, the illustrations are simple yet spot on, and the writing is brief and thoughtful, full of humour and pathos. 

Pulse Points by Jennifer Down    {Review by STELLA}
Pulse Points could have been named Nerve Endings. Jennifer Down’s short story collection starts quietly, feeling much like many slice-of-life episode tales. It’s not long into the stories that the tempo increases and you are struck by the edginess of these moments. These pulse points. I wondered about the title: why pulse points? As I read on, I felt I was standing beside each protagonist, a silent witness to their loss, despair, realisations and moments of clarity: as a reader taking their pulse - watchful and caring. Often in short stories, the lives of the characters can be fleeting, sometimes forgettable. Down has a knack of making each one count, largely due to her skill at capturing those small moments of anger, self-doubt, love and failing that make us human. There is nothing out of the ordinary here, yet one feels that every moment is special, is defined for just that person, a turning point, a resting point or a moment of connection. In 'Aokigahara' a sister makes a pilgrimage to the final resting place of her brother. The story is evocative and captures the strange forest known as The Sea of Trees, as well as the difficulties of a family dealing with suicide. In 'We Got Used to Here Fast', two siblings are whisked away from their depressive mother to a happier life with their grandparents. On their tedious, long and unsettling journey, they stop for the night in the middle of nowhere, parked in front of a huge satellite dish. Two smaller satellite dishes provide a portal for telling secrets, a connection for Sam and Lally which never falters, despite the hardships that come later in their lives. 'Vox Clamantis' sees Abby having to pretend to be still engaged to the self-centred Johnny. His mother is dying and she is fond of Abby. You sit, on edge, in the car with Johnny, and, like Abby, are riven by both frustration and compassion. These stories are set in both America and Australia, in small towns where characters are simultaneously sucked down, suffocated and protected by the nature of a close community, in cities which are anonymous, free and lonely, and in the suburbs which are safe, yet yell drudgery. The landscapes are rich in emotion and charged with electricity. Yet these dim in comparison to the rawness, the closeness and the sparking dialogue and relationships between the characters, their internal emotional lives, their human failings and achievements, the violence that infiltrates their lives or the sadness that captures them unsuspectingly. These stories at all turns are tragic and tender. Down keeps a fine finger on the pulse.


02/09/2017 11:56 PM

Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba     {Review by THOMAS}
“It was once a happy city: we were once happy girls. It was as if we were all one mouth eating the ham, as if our cheese were all the same cheese: wholesome and creamy and tasting the same to all of us.” When a young girl arrives in an orphanage following the deaths of her parents in a car accident, she brings an unhealable wound into the community of girls. The identity of the group, which had hitherto subsisted in a single collective consciousness begins to differentiate by contact with a new and unassimilable member. “Her first triumph was this: we were no longer all the same. It was as if, in a short space of time, we had all become aware of so many things. Those things hurt, they flowed down like a river from upstairs, where the principal and the adults lived.” The otherness of Marina is both threatening and alluring, hateful and attractive, and as the girls rub up against each other both poles of this ambivalence are potentised without being able to discharge their energy. Such Small Hands is narrated alternately by Marina, her immature mind incapable of accepting the death of her parents and accordingly unable to grieve for them, unable to release the hurt that instead grows and spreads under the surface of the whole orphanage society, bringing awkwardness to what hitherto been facile and unexamined, and by the collective voice of the orphans, desperate to retain the integrity of their undeveloped state, their stifling innocence, and at the same time fascinated by the adult knowledge that Marina represents, the scar on her torso, her familiarity with death (though they also are orphans they are preconscious orphans, ‘natural’ orphans, orphans without specific loss). “Marina had been there watching over our mistake. Everything around her was contaminated, and so were we.” Marina is both one of them and an outsider, a watching eye that divides them, both offering and threatening to pull them into awareness of their individuality (an awareness that cannot be distinguished from an awareness of death). “Now we knew we were inescapably the way we were. It was a discovery you could do nothing with, a discovery that served no purpose.” Awareness of one’s separation from the world is the awareness of trauma, or, more specifically, is the trauma. What we think of as our pleasures are those things that relieve us from the awareness of our not being the world we are aware of. Sports and religion and nationalism reinstate the ‘magical’ group thinking of the undeveloped mind, relieving their adherents from individual identity and individual responsibility. The harmony of the underlying unity, without the individualising angst that comes with self-awareness, will at all costs maintain itself in the face of any threat to its claustrophobic innocence, and will commit whatever atrocity will suppress a developmental threat. When the orphans steal Marina’s doll, also called Marina, which had been given to her by the psychologist, presumably to encourage her to express and release her devastation, they dismember it and return it to her in parts. Later, Marina institutes a nighttime game in which each of the girls takes a turn to be a doll, to be passively undressed and dressed and manipulated and treated as a doll, to be ‘small’, depersonalised, objectified, relieved of individuality to become nothing but the projection and plaything of the group, the ‘other’ completely at its mercy, the vector both of the desire for experience and of the simultaneous desire to unmake or unhave that experience. A game, a ritual, a sport, a sacrifice, a mob: each relieves us of the angst of our individual experience and becomes also the collective expression of that angst. When Marina insists on taking a turn as the doll in the nighttime ritual, her passivity, her objectification, allows the discharge of the contradictory forces, the longing and repulsion, that have threatened the immaturity of the group since her arrival. It is “as if the living were suddenly possessed by a violent covetousness of the dead ones’ peace.” Fascination and destruction can no longer be distinguished from one another: “desire was a big knife and we were the handle.” Barba is convincing in his recreation of the inherently psychotic thinking of childhood (no, this is surely too glib: the progression from childhood is one made against the pull of retrograde ‘psychotic’ forces which are discharged when experienced in adulthood by the psychotic/antipsychotic collective rituals of sport, religion, nationalism and so forth or held at bay by angst), the instability of identity and nausea of aetiological inconstancy that is inherent in the horribleness (as well as in the wonders) of childhood. 


02/09/2017 11:55 PM


A Short History of Decay by E.M. Cioran   {Review by THOMAS}
Emil Cioran is the philosopher of personal and collective frailty and failure, of emptiness, of hopelessness, of the eschewing of all answers (“Having resisted the temptation to conclude, I have overcome the mind.”). He rails against society, against both choice and necessity, against all values. I thought I would like him more than I do. Perhaps it is that he trumpets his nihilism, that he shouts out the immanence of our demise from the event horizon of whatever black hole we are heading towards, that his pessimism is, above all, dramatic (does this call its authenticity into question? (I don’t think so)), that makes me tire of him (he should perhaps be read (by me, at least) in small doses). Our differences are perhaps more of temperament than of territory; to me the underlying nullity of existence is more irredeemable than tragic, and I am to a degree suspicious of the heroic trappings and lyricism of his despair. That said, Cioran is an important, interesting (and frequently amusing) thinker, an heir to Nietzsche, and there is much to admire (and be amused by) in his books. His words dissolve civilisation as acetone dissolves paint (that’s got to be a good thing). The contents page of this book reads like the publishing list of an American academic publisher (“Genealogy of Fanaticism – In the Graveyard of Definitions – Civilisation and Frivolity – Supremacy of the Adjective – Apotheosis of the Vague – The Reactionary Angels – Militant Mourning – Farewell to Philosophy – Obsession of the Essential” &c, &c), and the book itself contains enough nihilistic aphorisms to fill a lifetime’s worth of anti-inspirational calendars (now, there’s a publishing project…), for example: “One is ‘civilised’ insofar as one does not proclaim one’s leprosy.” Great stuff.
>> Six pleasant minutes with the miserabilist.
>> "Without the idea of suicide I would surely have killed myself."
>> The Apocalypse according to Cioran


01/09/2017 10:41 AM

These interesting books seek shelf-space in your home.

These Possible Lives by Fleur Jaeggy           $21
Jaeggy, whose brief fictions, such as those in I am the Brother of XX, remain as pleasant burrs in the mind long after the short time spent reading them, has here written three brief biographies, of Thomas De Quincey, John Keats and Marcel Schwob, each as brief and effective as a lightning strike and as memorable. Jaeggy is interested in discovering what it was about these figures that made them them and not someone else. By assembling details, quotes, sketches of situations, pin-sharp portraits of contemporaries, some of which, in a few words, will change the way you remember them, Jaeggy takes us close to the membrane, so to call it, that surrounds the known, the membrane that these writers were intent on stretching, or constitutionally unable not to stretch, beyond which lay and lies madness and death, the constant themes of all Jaeggy’s attentions, and, for Jaeggy, the backdrop to, if not the object of, all creative striving. >> Read Thomas's review
Belladonna by Daša Drndić      $38
The life and health of a retired psychologist have declined to the extent that he gains insight into the disadvantaged of society and into the forces that oppress them, and also into the faculty of memory that can either liberate or condemn the one who remembers. A novel of Sebaldean scope and resonance. 
>>"There are no small fascisms."  

My Dad Used to Be So Cool by Keith Negley       $28
Why doesn't Dad do all those cool things he used to do? Why did he stop? (Could it be because having a child was somehow cooler?) From the author/illustrator of Tough Guys Have Feelings Too

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent         $35
Turtle lives with her father, Martin - her mother disappeared when she was very little. She struggles at school yet in her internal world she is intelligent - knowledgeable and philosophical. Her home life is controlled and confined by a set of predetermined rules and expectations laid down by her disturbed father: a father who believes that the apocalypse is upon them, a paranoid survivalist who insists he is training his daughter to exist against all odds. "This is a tough, but an incredible, novel that reveals the internal world of damage and explores the psyche of Turtle humanely and honestly. With a remarkable character, a plot that keeps you wired, lyrical writing about relationships and nature, My Absolute Darling is compelling and unsettling." - Stella

Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba        $28
A girl arrives at an orphanage after the deaths of her parents in a car accident. Her presence is a wound to the orphans' idea of themselves, and they also begin to have a disturbing effect upon the incomer. What role does the girl's doll play in the hazards that soon beset the inmates of the orphanage? 
"Barba inhabits the minds of children with an exactitude that seems to me so uncanny as to be almost sinister. Lying behind the shocks is a meditation on language and its power to bind or loosen thought and behaviour. It is about language, wounding, wickedness; but it is also about how fleeting and how vulnerable is the state of childhood innocence – that 'nothing which we are to perceive in this world/equals the power of its intense fragility'." - Sarah Perry, Guardian
>> "All writers have a corpse in their closet."
Paintings in Proust: A visual companion to In Search of Lost Time by Eric Karpeles       $45
A beautifully presented survey of all the artworks mentioned in In Search of Lost Time, with quotes and contextual notes. 
Franklin's Flying Bookshop by Jen Campbell and Katie Harnett        $28
Franklin loves books and he loves reading to children, but people tend to be scared of him because he is a dragon. Fortunately, Luna knows all about dragons from reading many books about them, and the two spend many hours together discussing the books they have read. To share their love of books with others, they decide to open a flying bookshop (good idea). 
Beg, Steal and Borrow: Artists against originality by Robert Shore       $28
If "all art is theft" (Picasso), what can we make of art that deliberately appropriates, subsumes, samples or reconfigures other art? Interesting. 

The Seabird's Cry: The lives and loves of puffins, gannets and other ocean voyagers by Adam Nicolson        $40
At the heart of the book are the Shiant Isles, a cluster of Hebridean islands in the Minch but Nicolson has pursued the birds much further-across the Atlantic, up the west coast of Ireland, to St Kilda, Orkney, Shetland, the Faeroes, Iceland and Norway; to the eastern seaboard of Maine and to Newfoundland, to the Falklands, South Georgia, the Canaries and the Azores - reaching out across the widths of the world ocean which is the seabirds' home. 
"I was entranced - my mind thrilling to the veers and lifts of thought, to the beautiful deftness of the prose. This marvellous book inhabits with graceful ease both the mythic and the scientific, and remains alert to the vulnerability of these birds as well as to their wonder. It is a work that takes wing in the mind." - Robert Macfarlane
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie         $27
Family, society, love and religion clash in this modern reworking of the themes of Antigone. Long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. 
"Home Fire left me awestruck, shaken, on the edge of my chair, filled with admiration for her courage and ambition. Recommended reading for prime ministers and presidents everywhere." - Peter Carey 

Ostro by Julia Busuttil Nishimura         $50
"My approach to food favours intuition over strict rules and is about using your hands, rushing a little less and savouring the details. It's not food that needs to be placed on a pedestal or admired from afar; it is food that slowly weaves its way into the fabric of your daily life - food for living and sharing."
The online slow food phenomenon has now produced this very beautiful cookbook. Very satisfying - even just to look through. 

Petite Fleur by Ioso Havilio         $30
When a young father kills his over-friendly neighbour and discovers that he is alive again the next day, he repeats the experiment on a regular basis and begins to wonder if he is exempt from the laws of causality. What effect does this have on his relationship with his wife and daughter?
"As vertiginous, airtight and intense as a dream." - Yuri Herrera
The Grammar of Spice by Caz Hildebrand         $45
Explains not only the history of every imaginable sort of spice, but imparts an understanding that enables the reader to use and combine them effectively when cooking. Wonderful illuminated illustrations throughout. 

Aukati by Michalia Arathimos         $38
Alexia is a law student escaping the Greek family that stifles her, and Isaiah is a young Maori returning home to find the family he's lost. Cut loose from their own cultures, they have volunteered to help Isaiah's Taranaki iwi get rid of the fracking that's devastating their land and water. The deeper Alexia and Isaiah go into the fight, the closer they get to understanding the different worlds they inhabit.

The Epic City: The world on the streets of Calcutta by Kushanava Choudhury           $37
Everything that could possibly be wrong with a city was wrong with Calcutta. When Choudhury returned to the city as an adult he found it much unchanged from his childhood, a city of intense localism, very different from the new age of consumption that was revolutionising other Indian cities. Why?
"Beautifully observed and even more beautifully written, The Epic City marks the arrival of a major new talent." - William Dalrymple

The Greedy Queen: Eating with Victoria by Annie Gray        $40
Victoria's appetite for life was expressed in her appetite for food: the queen consistently over-ate all her life. Her appetites presided over a revolution in English cuisine. 
"Had me at the first sentence." - Nigel Slater 
"Zingy, fresh, and unexpected: Annie Gray, the queen of food historians, finds her perfect subject." - Lucy Worsley 
>> Gray on the importance of dinner to the British Empire
Firecrackers: Female photographers now by Fiona Rogers and Max Houghton         $66
Features 30 cutting-edge women photographers from around the world.
Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing: Encounters with the mysteries and meanings of language by Daniel Tammet        $37
Interesting and eclectic set of essays about the diverse characteristics of various languages, and of humans' instinct to communicate.

 The King's Assassin: The fatal affair of George Villiers and James I by Benjamin Woolley       $50
Following the death of James I in 1625, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham and the king's 'wife' for ten years, was accused of poisoning him. A parliamentary enquiry found cleared him and the circumstance was relegated to the sidelines of history, but Woolley in this groundbreaking book suggests the allegations were in fact true.
 White Bicycles: Making music in the 1960s by Joe Boyd        $25
When Muddy Waters came to London at the start of the '60s, a kid from Boston called Joe Boyd was his tour manager; when Dylan went electric at the Newport Festival, Joe Boyd was plugging in his guitar; when the summer of love got going, Joe Boyd was running the coolest club in London, the UFO; when a bunch of club regulars called Pink Floyd recorded their first single, Joe Boyd was the producer; when a young songwriter named Nick Drake wanted to give his demo tape to someone, he chose Joe Boyd. Who better to give a deep insight into the creative maelstrom of the '60s music scene than Joe Boyd? 
The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton         $33
"Omar Robert Hamilton brings vividly to life the failed revolution of 2011 on the streets of Cairo, in all its youthful bravery and naive utopianism." - J.M. Coetzee
"I finished this novel with fascination and admiration. It gives a picture of the inside of a popular movement that we all saw from the outside, in countless news broadcasts and foreign-correspondent reports, a picture so vivid and powerful that it gives a passionate life and reality to what might have been perceived only as abstract principles. A thousand vivid details print themselves on the reader's memory: it will be a long time before we read anything so skilfully brought to life." - Philip Pullman
"Few writers could capture the frenetic speed of an Internet-fuelled uprising alongside the time-stopping corporeal reality of bullet-ridden bodies, all while never losing sight of the love that powered Egypt's revolutionary moment. Omar Robert Hamilton can do all that and more. Crossing borders and generations, he brings us into the movement's effervescent hope and its crushing heartbreak, probing timeless questions about what the living owe to the dead. Unbearable. Unmissable. A dazzling debut." - Naomi Klein
On a Magical, Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna        $28
A beautifully illustrated invocation of the wonders to be found outside on a rainy day. 

Every Third Thought: On life, death and the endgame by Robert McCrum        $38
"A brilliant, wise, compassionate and consoling account of death and dying in a secular age. McCrum moves seamlessly from personal testimonies to medical case studies to recent developments in neuroscience. He asks profound philosophical questions about mortality, finitude and the unknown. A uniquely beautiful and significant book." - Joanna Kavenna
"Thoughtful, subtle, elegantly clever and oddly joyous, Every Third Thought is beautiful and - most of all - true." - Kate Mosse
The London Jungle Book by Bhajju Shyam        $30
Bhajju Shyam, an artist from the Gond tribe in central India, was commissioned to paint the walls of an Indian restaurant in London, and spent two months in the city. The book that emerged from the journey is a visual travelogue of his first encounter with a western metropolis. Bhajju brings the signs of the Gond forest to bear on the city, turning London into an exotic jungle.

That Was a Shiver by James Kelman         $33
Short stories written with great precision and sympathy for the emotional depths below the surfaces of everyday life. 
"Kelman brings alive a human consciousness like no other writer can." - Alan Warner
"What Kelman creates here and elsewhere in this collection is an atmosphere of Kafka-esque anxiety and menace, of things falling apart, of centres unable to hold. Like the best short story writers – James Joyce, Kafka, John Cheever, Alice Munro – he has reinvented the form through his audacity not to conform to the expectations of those who underestimate the intelligence and perceptiveness of the reading public. His stories may concern dossers and delusionists, no-hopers and chancers, petty criminals and serial gamblers, but each one is an individual who has been dealt a hand that he must learn to play or lose his lot. What he is offering are slices of lives that most western literature ignores." - Herald Scotland 
Catching Breath: The making and unmaking of tuberculosis by Kathryn Lougheed         $28
For forty thousand years, TB has accompanied humans in all their migrations and endeavours, keeping pace even with medical attempts to eradicate it. As TB is developing antibiotic resistance worldwide - has humanity met its match? 
The Cocktail Garden: Botanical cocktails for every season by Adriana Picker and Ed Loveday          $30
A beautifully illustrated guide to making the most mouthwatering cocktails from fruits and herbs that might be in your own garden.

The Pursuit of Power: Europe, 1815-1916 by Richard J. Evans         $38
A period in which what was seen as modern with amazing speed appeared old-fashioned, in which huge cities sprang up in a generation, new European countries were created and in which, for the first time, humans could communicate almost instantly over thousands of miles. Evans accounts for revolutions, empire-building and wars that marked the nineteenth century, but also treats illness, serfdom, religion or philosophy, and a host of other things.
Dr James Barry: A woman ahead of her time by Michael du Preez and Jeremy Dronfield         $22
Dr James Barry: Inspector General of Hospitals, army surgeon, duellist, reformer, ladykiller, eccentric. He performed the first successful Caesarean in the British Empire, outraged the military establishment and gave Florence Nightingale a dressing down at Scutari. At home he was surrounded by a menagerie of animals, including a cat, a goat, a parrot and a terrier. Long ago in Cork, Ireland, he had also been a mother. This is the amazing tale of Margaret Anne Bulkley, the young woman who broke the rules of Georgian society to become one of the most respected surgeons of the century.
Play With Me: Dolls, women, art by Grace Banks         $55
The inanimate female form has often been used by artists to make statements about the objectification of women and to explore the frontiers of individual identity and the replicability of experience. Banks surveys how artificial women can generate political and ethical debate. 
Psychedelia, And other colours by Rob Chapman         $40
The discovery of the psychoactive consequences of LSD was soon followed by its cultural manifestations. These, however took on quite different characteristics depending on their host culture: the psychedelia of the west coast of the US differed in texture from that of the UK. Chapman's fascinating book explores the territory.
 >> Chapman's playlist to accompany the book
Tin Man by Sarah Winman        $30
From the author of When God Was a Rabbit
"Tin Man is Winman's best novel yet. The playful subversiveness still bubbles away but there's a new candour there, an acceptance of needs and flaws that proves deeply touching. This is storytelling as cruelly kind as fate itself." - Patrick Gale

The Children of Willesden Lane: A true story of hope and survival during World War II by Mona Gobalek and Lee Cohen        $19
Jewish musical prodigy Lisa Jura Gobalek escaped Vienna to London on the Kindertransport, where she eventually studies at the Royal Academy. How can she learn the fates of her sisters and the rest of her family she left behind?

The Broken Ladder: How inequality changes the way we think, live and die by Keith Payne         $38
Regardless of their average incomes, countries or states with greater levels of income inequality have much higher rates of all the social maladies we generally associate with poverty: lower than average life expectancies, mental illness and crime. 

Bitch Doctrine: Essays for dissenting adults by Laurie Penny        $27
Penny is ready to confront injustice wherever she finds it.
"I can't really think of another writer who so consistently and bravely keeps thinking and talking and learning and trying to make the world better." - Caitlin Moran
>> A manifesto for change

26/08/2017 11:42 PM

BOOKS @ VOLUME   #38   (26.8.17)

This week's newsletter includes our reviews, news, events, courses, competitions, recommendations, new releases and other things. 

26/08/2017 11:21 PM

This week's Book of the Week is Olga Tokarczuk's remarkable sort-of-novel, FLIGHTS, published by Text Publishing.

When something is at rest it is only conceptually differentiated from the physical continuum of its location, but when moving its differentiation is confirmed by the changes in its relations with the actual. Likewise, humans have in them a restlessness, a will to change, a fluidity of identity and belonging that Olga Tokarczuk in her fine and interesting book Flights would see as our essential vitality, an indicator of civilisation so far as it is acknowledged and encouraged, otherwise a casualty of repression or of fear. “Barbarians stay put, or go to destinations to raid them. They do not travel.” Flights is an encyclopedic sort-of-novel, a great compendium of stories, fragments, historical anecdotes, description and essays on every possible aspect of travel, in its literal and metaphorical senses, and on the stagnation, mummification and bodily degradation of stasis. The book bristles with ideas, memorable images and playful treatments, for instance when Tokarczuk reframes the world as an array of airports, to which cities and countries are but service satellites and through which the world’s population is constantly streaming, democratised by movement, no preparation either right or wrong in this zone of civilised indeterminacy. To create a border, to restrict a movement is to suppress life, to preserve a corpse. Tokarczuk’s fragments are of various registers and head in different directions, but several strands reappear through the book, such as the story of a father and young son searching for a mother who disappears on holiday on a small Croatian island. Historical imaginings include an account of the journey of Chopin’s heart from Paris to Poland following his death, the ‘biography’ of the ‘discoverer’ of the achilles tendon, and an account of the peripatetic sect constantly on the move to elude the Devil. For Tokarczuk, we find ourselves, if we find ourselves at all, somewhere in the interplay between impulse and constraint. {Review by THOMAS}

>> Read an excerpt

>> Read another excerpt. (The Fitzcarraldo Editions edition is also available).

>> "Flights has echoes of WG Sebald, Milan Kundera, Danilo Kiš and Dubravka Ugrešić, but Tokarczuk inhabits a rebellious, playful register very much her own." - Guardian

>> Visit Olga Tokarczuk's library (and learn Polish incidentally). 

26/08/2017 11:19 PM

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell     {Reviewed by STELLA}
When the Queen Mary, a Victorian liner, sinks, a baby with hair the colour of lightning is found inside a cello case floating on the English Channel. She is discovered by eccentric scholar Charles Maxim, who names her Sophie and takes her into his home, much against the advice of the authorities. While Sophie sometimes eats off an atlas or writes her sums on the wallpaper, she is surrounded by music, words, and love. When the inspectors come, despite the best efforts of Charles and Sophie to tidy and clean the house and make themselves presentable, the authorities conclude that now that she is thirteen Maxim is not a suitable guardian, and Sophie is to be moved to an orphanage where she will be taught to be a proper young lady. In a fit of fury, Sophie destroys the cello case that saved her life, only to find a clue, and away they head over the channel to Paris. On the run from the authorities, Charles and Sophie are mother-hunting. Sophie is convinced her mother survived the sinking of the ship and she’s determined to take risks to find her. Risks that involve a strange boy, Matteo, and a band of wayward children who live above the streets of Paris on rooftops or in treetops, eking out a precarious existence - one that is preferable to the orphanage or workhouse. Can Sophie trust these unusual, secretive children? Will she be courageous enough to face physical danger and determined enough to believe in herself? Katherine Rundell creates magic with her cast of characters and description of place. Sophie is a wild child and determined young woman you warm to immediately: stubborn, intelligent, brave and vulnerable. Matteo is a perfect companion: resourceful, secretive and daring. Charles is an adult who brings the rules, lives by the heart and is loyal to the core. Rundell is an exquisite writer, her pace is spot on, the plot inventive and her language witty. You will find it hard to leave Sophie behind when you close the final page of this adventurous and warm-hearted novel. Fortunately,Rundell has several other titles to her name, the latest has just arrived -The Explorer

26/08/2017 11:18 PM


My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent     {Reviewed by STELLA}

Many debuts come with much fanfare - some of which creates deflation.My Absolute Darling is not one of those. Author Gabriel Tallent can write in the most lyrical way about the most horrific violence and abuse. Unsurprisingly, My Absolute Darling has been compared with A Little Life and The Sport of Kings. Set against the backdrop of the California coast, in Mendocino (where the author grew up), we meet fourteen-year-old Turtle (Julia) - tough, resourceful, able to handle a gun at six, able to survive in the wilderness with little or no equipment, watchful, lonely. Turtle lives with her father, Martin - her mother disappeared when she was very little. She struggles at school yet in her internal world she is intelligent - knowledgeable and philosophical. Her home life is controlled and confined by a set of predetermined rules and expectations laid down by her disturbed father: a father who believes that the apocalypse is upon them, a paranoid survivalist who insists he is training his daughter to exist against all odds, who loves his daughter more than anything. Tallent does not shy from the abuse which Turtle encounters, and his skill lies in the care with which he portrays the relationship between father and daughter and the beauty of his words. Martin and Turtle both have an understanding of nature, of the physical world around them, and this seems to hold them in some kind of warped isolation together. Julia has no friends at school, knows no other life. Her only other true relationship is with her grandfather, an war vet alcoholic who lives in a trailer on the family property. When Julia is with her grandfather you sense her relax. At all other times, Turtle is overly aware and on edge, expecting a poor outcome, ready to be at fault, ‘a useless slit’. This tension overlays the whole book, so even when things are going well in Turtle’s world you sense that this is the calm before the storm and that the storm will be mighty. The tension is so finely wrought that you find yourself torn between turning away and being compelled to stay with Turtle despite your unease. At the half point of the book, Turtle takes off on a trek cross-country (something she does from time to time to save herself from the constant trauma), to be alone. This time she comes across two boys just a little older than herself who are out adventuring, unwittingly unprepared for the elements and completely lost. Turtle follows them into the night and decides to rescue them, and so makes a departure in her life - real contact with others. This encounter becomes a pivotal point in the story: something changes in Turtle, something that Martin senses and feels threatened by. From this point, you understand that merely surviving will not be enough. Turtle will have to use her sharp and finely tuned instincts to decipher her truth and be tougher than she has ever been. And this is a tough, but an incredible, novel that reveals the internal world of damage and explores the psyche of Turtle humanely and honestly. With a remarkable character, a plot that keeps you wired, lyrical writing about relationships and nature, My Absolute Darling is compelling and unsettling.
>>This book will be released this week. Let us put a copy aside for you

26/08/2017 10:10 PM

These Possible Lives by Fleur Jaeggy      {Reviewed by THOMAS}
The desire to understand must not be confused with the desire to know, especially in biography. Too often and too soon an accretion of facts obscures a subject, plastering detail over detail, obscuring the essential lineaments in the mistaken notion that we are approaching a definitive life, whereas such a life, even if it were possible, could not be understood. Instead a labour of whittling is required, a paring from the mass of fact all but those details that cannot be separated from the subject, the details that make the subject themself and not another, the details therefore that are the key to the inner life, so to call it, of the subject and the cause of all the extraneous details of which we are relieved the necessity of acquiring (unless we find we enjoy this as sport). Jaeggy, whose brief fictions, such as those in I am the Brother of XX, remain as pleasant burrs in the mind long after the short time spent reading them, has here written three brief biographies, of Thomas De Quincey, John Keats and Marcel Schwob, each as brief and effective as a lightning strike and as memorable. Jaeggy is interested in discovering what it was about these figures that made them them and not someone else. By assembling details, quotes, sketches of situations, pin-sharp portraits of contemporaries (some of which, in a few words, will change the way you remember them), Jaeggy takes us close to the membrane, so to call it, that surrounds the known, the membrane that these writers were intent on stretching, or constitutionally unable not to stretch, beyond which lay and lies madness and death, the constant themes of all Jaeggy’s attentions, and, for her, the backdrop to, if not the object of, all creative striving. How memorably Jaeggy gives us sweet De Quincey’s bifurcation, by a mixture of inclination, reading and opium, from the world inhabited by others, his house a place of “paper storage, fragments of delirium eaten away by dust”, and poor Keats, whose “moods, vague and tentative, didn’t settle over him so much as hurry past like old breezes,” and Schwob, with his appetite for grief tracing and retracing the arcs of his friends’ deaths towards his own. These essays are so clean and sharp that light will refract within them long after you have ceased to read, drawing you back to read again. Is the understanding you have gained of these writers something that belongs to them? Too bad, you will henceforth be unable to shake the belief that you have gained some access to their inner lives that has been otherwise denied.