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A book in the hand

     Every week (no, every day!) wonderful new books arrive to anticipate readers on the shelves of our shop. Click through to browse A DOZEN NEW RELEASES WE HAVE SELECTED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. 

Our Book of the Week this week is Maurice Gee's gripping new fantasy adventure The Severed Land. Click through to find out more (including how to get a useful map to the severed land). We also have a signed copy of the book to give away. To go in the draw, just tell us your favourite book by Maurice Gee (and, if you like, why it is your favourite).

Do you use our website to keep up with what is happening in the shop (and in the wider world of books) as well as for purchasing and reserving books? Books purchased on our website can be sent anywhere!

(Just let us know and we'll put copies aside for you)


Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff is intriguing – a novel told in two parts from the perspectives of married couple, Lancelot (Fates) and Mathilde (Furies). Kicking off, Lotto is an unruly teen sent away to school - his story is one of a popular and successful student with mother issues. Just two weeks after meeting Mathilde they are married. Estranged from the family money, Lotto (Lancelot), desperate to be a famous actor, strives in vain to be a famous actor until he has his epiphany that play-writing is for him. Mathilde, the good wife, works to bring in the cash. They are poor but happy. They have a great, exuberant circle of friends who join with them in their successes and failures, but it’s not always friendly. As Lancelot’s success grows so does their uphill climb to money and a comfortable lifestyle. But not all is as it seems. Underlying this charmed life is the estrangement from Lancelot’s family, the mystery of Mathilde’s past, Lancelot’s desire for a child (and Mathilde’s lack of interest) and, more impressively, Lancelot’s continuous need for attention and affirmation of his importance from those around him, particularly Mathilde. When Lancelot dies suddenly at 46, Mathilde is abandoned. And so begins Mathilde’s story... And from here you will be completely hooked if you weren’t already! She is a complex, intriguing character who is loving, ruthless, striking and sharp. Her furies are dazzling


Idaho by Emily Ruskovich is a haunting debut. The novel has at its heart an act of incomprehensible violence, an act that leaves one child dead, and another missing. This single act devastates a family. Ann, our eyes and ears in this story, is the second wife of Wade, who is battling dementia. As Wade loses his memory she navigates us through his life, and that of Jenny - his first wife - and their two children, May and June. She is the keeper of the secrets, of the history of this family and all that has befallen them. Some memories she pieces together, others she re-imagines, coming to a place in her own life where she is the bearer of this sadness, the person that holds the responsibility for attempting to redeem the family, as well as herself.
Wade's dementia is a cruel genetic inheritance, one that has taken both his father and grandfather early in their lives. He feels it creeping up on him, but he is unable to delay it despite his efforts to escape from it both physically, by moving from the plains to the mountains, and mentally, by learning the piano (from the local school's music teacher, Ann), and, as it advances, his memories of the children fade but his feelings of grief and anger intensify and confuse him. An anger that shows itself in violent outbursts, often placing Ann in danger, followed by wallowing regret. 
As the story continues, Ann becomes more fully focussed on the missing child, who would now be a young woman, and the role of the mother in this tragedy. Piecing together snippets of information, day-dreaming in the truck parked beyond the house, coming across small mementos of the past, leads Ann to strike up a covert connection with Jenny. This unusual bond between the two women formed in an environment of guilt, loss and a desire for redemption is strikingly affecting. 
Rushovich's writing is rich and descriptive - the heat bears down with its itch-making insects, the snow deadens their lives, engulfing the humans who live on the mountain in a cloak of silent threat. Place, in this novel, not only acts as a catalyst for damage but is also a metaphor for the psychological landscape. The attention to small details and glimpses of perspective build a textured canvas, which both reveals and conceals. This is a novel that will stay with you, and, while gruelling in parts, although never grotesque, it is a fascinating portrayal of how people make new landscapes, both real and imagined, from their personal tragedies, and their desire to outlive their trauma. 


The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner
Whereas it may not be certain whose hatred of poetry is greater, that of the poetically unattuned or that of the poet, it is clear, to Lerner at least, whose hatred of poetry is more instrumental to the writing of poetry.* Lerner, an accomplished poet (and novelist), posits that it is the failure of poetry to actualise its intentions that perfects, or at least gives shape to, or at least conveys some intimation of, those intentions - for poetry to convey something unconveyable - the very precision, or at least potential, or attempted, precision of its failure succeeding in defining, or, at best, clearing, a space in which unwordable experience may dance or move or do whatever it is that it does that cannot be caught with a word. The dislike of ordinary readers is nothing to the dislike of poets for actual poems, those blunt clumsy masses upon which sparks are struck and edges sharpened, those necessarily failed attempts to embed virtual poems, if such things may be thought of as poems, in the actual common muck of words. To progress by contrary motion, to locate a threshold by being unable to cross it, to point with a limp finger at a target in the dark, to squeeze brine from a bag of unknown contents, these are deeper functions of poetry, and the hatred of poetry espoused by Lerner is a symptom of either enthusiasm of compulsion, burden or useful luggage (who can tell?), clearing space for love. Through the spine of his essay,  which blossoms with ambivalences and ambiguities, Lerner has threaded the poem 'Poetry' by Marianne Moore:
I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle. 
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers that there is in it after all, a place for the genuine.

*Or maybe not so clear. 



Inland by Gerald Murnane
“There are other worlds, but they’re all in this one,” wrote Paul Eluard, quoted by Murnane (in a slightly different translation) in Inland. The multiplicity and porosity of identity, not only of personage but also of occurrence and of place (the overarching (or underarching?) predominator of Murnane’s writing), destabilises received notions of ‘the novel’ and deprives the reader of the tools traditionally used to work on text whilst keeping it at a safe, ‘practical’ distance. Instead, in a world in which “each thing is at least two things”, in what Murnane elsewhere calls the ‘image world’, the image, usually, in Murnane’s case, deeply saturated with old longing, is the determinant, its expected anchors or referents plunging through so many layers of fiction and memory (so to call them) that the distinctions between these are dissolved, the resonating image, that which is (mis)taken for an impression but which is more the last upon which both fiction and actuality receive a form, retained at least for the duration of contact but more often sufficiently long to be cupped together with other fictional and actual layers similarly impressed, is what both shapes the text and disavows the possibility of shape. Inland begins with a Hungarian writer who has been written by another writer who appears to be some written version of Murnane, telling the reader that he is anticipating his translator (for whom he yearns romantically (there is contradictory evidence as to whether they have never met or have shared a past)) reading what he is writing, thus, since it is implied that we are reading the text as purportedly translated by the said translator, adding another layer to the cocoon of text which stifles the postulated Murnane in his very attempts to make contact with the world beyond himself. During the course of the book, the layers of obfuscation are wound away, a process during which Murnane abandons (for good) fiction as usually understood, and replaces it with a multileveled examination of the nature and behaviour and mutability of memory, an examination of the potency of an image over time. Wound in the centre of this book and revealed towards the end is what the narrator (the purported Murnane (a constructed personage just like any other)) ‘remembers’ of his twelve-year-old self, of his undeclared love for a “girl from Bendigo Street”, who, according to a mutual friend, liked him “very much”, the closest the narrator gets to actual contact with a fellow person, though he is aware that each of them was almost certainly perceiving and relating primarily to someone in the image world rather than an actual person. Murnane continued his examination of the relationship between images, memory and ‘reality’, and into the way in which text reaches out to and yet pushes further away the world inhabited by others, in Barley Patch and A Million Windows. Apart from all this, and in fact necessitated by all this, or at least indistinguishable from all this, Murnane writes beautiful, exquisitely pedantic, sad, subtly barbed and often very funny sentences, and I might well agree with him when he stated in a recent interview, “My sentences are the best-shaped of any sentences written by any writer of fiction in the English language during my lifetime. The previous sentence is a fair average sample of my prose", even though the ironic valency of his statement is highly uncertain.



15 Church Street / PO Box 364, Nelson 7010, New Zealand
telephone: 03 9700073
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VOLUME · 15 Church Street (Radio House) · PO Box 364 · Nelson, 7010 · New Zealand

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