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BOOK OF THE WEEK. We will be featuring books we think are especially deserving of your attention. Come into the shop or visit our website to learn more about the book, the author and content, and to get yourself copy to read!
This coming week's book is Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, the winner of the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize for "extending the possibilities of the novel form". Keep an eye on our site for links, reviews and interviews.

 
SHIFTS OF TONGUE. Come and hear Harry Ricketts, Ruth Allison, Cliff Fell and Lindsay Pope reading a selection of poems by Rachel Bush (1941-2016), and some of their own work, too (click on their names to find out more about their books). VOLUME, 15 Church Street, Nelson. Sunday 5 February, 4 PM. Rachel's book Thought Horses was recently long-listed for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. 

Gillian Whitehead (composer) and Fleur Adcock (librettist) have written a one-woman opera based on the tragic, eventful and unconventional life of New Zealand writer Robin Hyde. Iris Dreaming, performed by Joanne Roughton-Arnold and the NZ Trio, will premiere at the Theatre Royal on 6 February as part of this year's Adam Chamber Festival. Click through for more information.

Our AFTER SCHOOL BOOK GROUPS are starting in February!
Topic (for both): Summer Reading.  Let us know if you are interested in joining!
9-12-year-olds: Thursday 9 February, 3:30-4:30
13+: Thursday 23 February, 3:30-4:30 (spaces still available!)
Venue: The lovely Wilden Cafe, 10 Church Street (just across the road from VOLUME!)

BOOK LIST: Click through to find out more about some books from Fitzcarraldo Editions, exciting publishers of contemporary fiction and long-form essays. We have imported these books from the UK as they are not otherwise available in Australasia. 

>> We will be closed (i.e. reading books) on Nelson Anniversary Day (Monday 31.1.17). <<
 


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

 
STELLA  











 
Two books on the Soviet era that have found places on my bookshelf are Soviet Bus Stops and Window-Shopping Through the Iron Curtain.
I never tire of looking at the amazing bus stops. The author/photographer spent several years in ex-Soviet Union tracking down suitably interesting bus stops in amazing nowhere places. Alongside the fascinating images, there’s a nice essay about the design and building of these bus shelters. The fascinating thing about the Soviet era bus stops is their individualistic nature, compared with the larger prescribed buildings of this period. They reflect the whims of their architects and the personalities of their local communities - many incorporate regional folk design in their decorative elements (eg. colourful mosaic tile-work). A perfect book for the Soviet era architecture/design/aesthetic enthusiast. 
Window-Shopping Through the Iron Curtain is another gem. With images that at a glance look like the 1950s, it’s incredible that many of these photographs reflect the shop displays of the 90s. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the lifting of the curtain and an increasing global economy it’s unlikely that such great examples of display, typography and retailing exist now. A wonderful reminder of what the visual differences were between East and West. For a New Zealand comparison, have a look at Steve Braunias and Peter Black’s The Shops. If you’re lucky you may have a shop like some of these just round the corner. There’s good ’bad’ design everywhere once you start looking. 

 
 





 

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Faith and her family have shipped out from England to a remote island to escape scandal. On arriving at the island, Faith discovers that her beloved father, a respected minister with an interest in the sciences (evolution, creation and anthropology), has laid himself bare for ridicule. Not long after Faith takes a mysterious trip with her distracted father to hide a strange plant, he is found dead. Faith believes he has been murdered and that somehow this is tied to the plant. As she delves into his papers and journals she discovers the plant is a ‘lie tree’ that supposedly flourishes and bears a fruit when fed a lie. The fruits when eaten will give the recipient the truth. Faith sets out to discover who is behind her father's death and to understand the obsessive behaviour of her father by using the strange properties of this malign plant to seek the truth. Intriguing. The Lie Tree won the Costa Book of the Year in 2015, and recently this special edition was produced with illustrations by Chris Riddell.

 
   




 
THOMAS  
 








 

The Babysitter at Rest by Jen George
The self-obsession bordering on narcissim which passes for purpose among thirty-something arty types who have not yet succumbed to despair or parenthood or both is here foresnically explored in five longish stories with protagonists for whom the aspirations towards “self-fulfillment” (admit you also have these tendencies) are proving insufficiently resilient to masquerade as anything other than the self-indulgence tempered only by ennui that they always were (admit you also suffer from this). Maturing may be a liminal process but every doorstep is also a place to trip, and George's stories, although they suffer on occasion from the self-indulgence one would expect from their subject matter, exhibit the sort of stunned lyricism that results when your head hits the floor in mid-sentence (test this yourself). “Your life may fall apart may fall apart around you while you're putting on the act of radiating positivity, but you will not realise it for some time,” says The Guide in the story 'Guidance/The Party'.

>> Read the title story here. 

 






















 

 

City of Lions by Josef Wittlin and Philippe Sands 
The city known variously in history as Lviv, Lwow, Lemberg, לעמבערג and Leopolis in eastern central Europe was once a city where cultures and ethnicities (Jewish, Polish, Ukranian, Austrian) met and enriched each other, but, in the twentieth century, it became a city in which cultures and ethnicities obliterated each other. In the first half of this book, 'My Lwow', Josef Wittlin, looking back from exile in the 1940s, celebrates the rich texture of the city in which he grew up. Lying on the crossroads between East and West, North and South, Lwow was a melting-pot of buoyant and diverse traditions. Reading Wittlin's descriptions of the streets and life of the city reminds me of nothing so much as of The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz (who lived and was killed in Drohobycz, about an hour from Lwow). Although the shadows of the events of WW2 lie across Wittlin's text, his memories of the cosmopolitan city are all the more poignant for his saying little of them. “All memories lead to the graveyard,” he says, though. The second half of the book, 'My Lviv', is written by human rights lawyer Philippe Sands, who travelled to Lviv, now in the Ukraine, in the last several years, partly to learn more about his grandfather, who had lived there in the early twentieth century, but spoke little of that phase of his life, and partly to research his remarkable book, East West Street: On the origins of genocide and crimes against humanity – terms coined by Lvovians Rafael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht  – which won the 2016 Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction. His is a mission to connect history to its locations, but he finds that everywhere, although the old Lwow physically persists, the stories that should give those places meaning are forgotten or suppressed. “Wittlin believes that memory 'falsifies everything', but surely imagination of the unknown is an even greater falsifier,” Sands writes. History must be multivocal to avoid authoritarianism. Sands finds and visits the site of the mass grave which holds the remains of the majority of the Lvovian Jewish population, killed when the city came under Nazi control in WW2. The city now being almost entirely monocultural, Sands reports the unchallenged ease with which some Ukranian nationalists assume the trappings and ideologies once stamped on the city by Nazism. But what should be preserved, the rights of the individual or the identity of the group?
 

 














 
 
Inside the Head of Bruno Schultz by Maxim Biller, with two stories by Bruno Schulz
During World War 2, the writer and painter Bruno Schulz was kept from the gas chamber by a Gestapo officer who wanted him to complete a mural for his children’s nursery. One day he was shot in the street by another Gestapo officer while returning to the ghetto with a loaf of bread. In this little book, Maxim Biller imagines a time just before the German invasion of Poland, with Schulz hidden from fear in his cellar and writing a letter to Thomas Mann, imploring his help and warning him that Mann’s sinister double, or at least someone claiming to be Mann, is present in Schulz’s town of Drohobycz, presaging in many ways the coming German invasion. Biller’s Schulz is having trouble concentrating and in making his message to Mann clear, and has to restart many times, each attempt being less successful than the last. The letters are invaded by fears and memories, or the doubles or stand-ins for fears and memories, and it soon becomes unclear which elements belong to the description of Schulz writing, which to the letter he is writing and which exist only in the head of Schulz and not in what he is writing or in the world in which he sits and writes. Even if it all only exists in Schulz’s head, and of course it does (he is alone), this three-fold distinction, or rather the inability (of Schulz and of the reader) to make this three-fold distinction remains. Biller’s text is followed by two of the actual Schulz’s most representative stories, ‘Birds’ (about a melancholic father’s increasing over-identification with birds) and ‘Cinnamon Shops’ (concerning the dissolution of the actual city into one built of dreams and memories as a boy is sent home from the theatre to fetch his father’s wallet). There is certainly something of Kafka in Schultz’s narratorial relinquishment of initiative to a less-than-conscious weight that presses against the text from below (or within (or wherever)), but Schulz has a wistfulness that gives his writing a flavour all of its own.

 




 
 
 
The Unfortunates by B.S. Johnson
The 27 sections of this novel are not bound together but come in a box so that, apart from the first and last sections, they can be arranged and read in any order. With unselfsparing autobiographical rigour, Johnson (who, ever a provocateur, stated that “telling stories is telling lies”) tells of a journalist who travels to [Nottingham] to report a football match and is constantly put in mind of previous trips to the city to visit a friend who died young of cancer. Memories of Tony and his decline are intruded upon by unbidden memories of a former lover who once accompanied him on a visit. Johnson gives scrupulous attention to how the concrete mundane either ignites emotional significance or provides a respite from (or impediment to) emotional significance when touched by the seemingly haphazard movements of the mind (hence the unbound sections) as it attempts to face but cannot bring itself to face the inevitability of death. “I fail to remember, the mind has fuses.” The Unfortunates is an impressively alert and careful portrayal of memory’s capacities and shortcomings, and an exacting yet moving portrayal of loss.

 
 
 


 

15 Church Street / PO Box 364, Nelson 7010, New Zealand
telephone: 03 9700073
txt: 0211970002
www.volume.nz
books@volume.nz

 

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

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