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We wish you all the best for the new year. May 2017 bring you lots of interesting books and the time to read them (we might be able to help with the books, at least).
VOLUME will be closed on New Year's day, but otherwise open every day in the coming week for relaxed browsing (we understand that a pile of good books is essential to a good holiday).
We look forward to seeing you! - Stella & Thomas



New in the Hogarth series of re-imagined Shakespearean plays comes Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed. This is an extremely wry, clever re-telling of The Tempest, complete with revenge, bitterness and possibly a little redemption. Our modern day Prospero is Felix, a theatre director and actor fired by his backstabbing right-hand man, Tony. Dumped from the theatre, grieving the death of his daughter Miranda, Felix takes to the backroads ,where he settles on the edge of a scrubby farm in a semi-abandoned shack - his own island world. A decade or so passes. In this time he re-invents himself as Mr Duke, a genial retired drama teacher, and watches ‘Miranda’, now a fully fledged fantasy, grow from a child into a young woman, all the while keeping tabs on the treacherous Tony and his cohorts who have risen up the ranks of cultural politics to positions of power and advantage. When he spies a job as a drama teacher at a local prison, he knows this is his path to revenge himself on his enemies and redeem himself.

Bicycling to the Moon by Timo Parvela is a series of delightful stories with two main characters at its centre; Purdy and Barker are a cat and a dog who live in the blue house on the hill. Purdy is a showoff inclined to boasting, but also has wonderful dreams and ambitions. Barker is kind and gentle and, while it seems Purdy often has the upper hand, it is Barker who quietly goes about life enjoying the best of every day. Both have a zest for life, whether adventuring or relaxing; they are great friends and the stories are endearing. Wonderfully told, lovingly illustrated, great to read aloud and filled with character, this book of playful fables will become a favourite.

Antigone by Ali Smith
This beautiful book, with its gorgeous illustrations by Laura Paoletti, is part of the ‘Save the Story’ series produced by Pushkin Press. Their aim is to “save great stories from oblivion by retelling them for a new, younger generation.” The stories are rewritten by well-known contemporary authors. Ali Smith tells this tale beautifully. This Greek myth has all the classic attributes – death, love, tragedy and loyalty – as well as a misguided ruler, a shape-shifter and a wise crow. Antigone is distraught because her brothers have died, stabbing each other simultaneously on the battlefield, dramatically warring with each other over the kingdom. While one is allowed a hero’s death, while the other is decreed a traitor. Antigone, loyal to both, goes against the rule of her uncle and gives her outcast brother a proper burial. Her punishment is to be killed. Her uncle, under pressure from his people, reneges a little, toning down his punishment to captivity in a sealed cave. Well, the end, to say the least, is tragic, and no one will be happy, but Antigone is our brave and loyal heroine to the end.



Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine by Diane Williams
If it is necessary to move out to the very edge of ourselves, to the part of ourselves that is least ourselves, to be near another person, another person who has also moved out to the very edge of themselves, to the part of themselves that is least themselves, in order to be near us, what value can there be in any communication that takes place, if any communication can take place, between parties who are therefore almost strangers even to themselves? Diane Williams’ short, energetic, hugely disorienting short stories pass as sal volatile through the fug of relationships, defamiliarising the ordinary elements of everyday lives to expose the sad, ludicrous, hopeless topographies of what passes for existence. This is not a nihilistic enterprise, however, for Williams has immense sympathies and her stories themselves demonstrate the possibility of connection through the very act of delineating its impossibility. With the finest of needles, the most ordinary of details, Williams picks out the unacknowledged, unacknowledgeable but familiar hopeless longing that underlies our unreasoned and unreasonable striving for human relations, a longing that makes us more isolated the harder we strive for connection. So much is left unsaid in these stories that they act as foci for the immense unseen weight of their contexts, precisely activating pressure-points on the reader’s sensibilities. These are some of the finest stories you will read.

Solar Bones
by Mike McCormack
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.

Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador by Horacio Castellanos Moya
I was half way through a rereading of Thomas Bernhard’s The Lime Works when this book arrived, and, because the desire for new experience sometimes seems more urgent (or possibly just easier) than deeper exploration of the familiar, I read it immediately. How, though, are we guided to new experience other than by its resemblance to the familiar? Moya wrote this imitation of Bernhard both as an exercise in style (there is so much that can be learned from Bernhard (and imitation may or may not be the best way to learn it)) and as a means to express his resentment of and frustration with the clichés and limitations of Salvadorean society, culture and politics. The character Vega regales the character Moya with an endless stream of invective (which resulted in the author Moya receiving death threats and choosing to prolong his absence from San Salvador indefinitely), which, although directed outwards, towards every possible target, also reveals Vega as both repulsive and neurotic. There is no imitation without exaggeration, however, and Moya’s book lacks Bernhard’s ability to subtly move the reader’s sympathies both with and against his narrators’, to undermine the valence of every statement, and to at once induce and call into question viewpoints embedded in multi-layered narratives. It must be said, though, that Moya’s yoking of his book to Bernhard has both adulatory and parodic dimensions, and is interesting as a portrait of someone (either/both the character Vega or/and the author Moya (the entangling/disentangling of the two is problematic on another level from the simplistic popular conflation of the two that contributed to Moya’s ‘exile’)) who, through admiration, allows their personality to be subsumed by another, more dominant personality (very much a Bernhardian concept). 


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VOLUME · 15 Church Street (Radio House) · PO Box 364 · Nelson, 7010 · New Zealand

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