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Paper weights
Book list: This week we are featuring  CB Editions, a small press in London which has published some excellent books in the past several years (including this week's Book of the Week). Click through for a selection of their books on our shelves, or, better still, come into the shop and discover them yourself. 

Last week's giveaway: The winner of the lovely hard-cover copy (courtesy of Gecko Press) of Helper and Helper, the new 'Snake and Lizard' book from Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop is Katrina Yurenka, whose favourite books were the very lovely (but sadly out of print) Little Rabbit and the Sea by Bishop and The Rusty Trusty Tractor by Joy Cowley. Thank you to all entrants!
Our after school book group for ages 13+ will hold its first session at Wilden Cafe (across the road from VOLUME) 3:30-4:30 this Thursday, 23 February. Contact us if you'd like to come. Topic: Summer reading. 

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



Women in Clothes: Why we wear what we wear by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton and 639 others
This is a fascinating book about the philosophical, practical and emotional connections we have with what we wear. This book is jam-packed with interesting ideas, photographic essays, explorations of personal collections, candid discussions and intriguing questions and responses. This unique project is unexpected and familiar by turns, sating your desire for intelligent conversations about clothes, as well as being a visual gem. From Mae Pang's safety pin collection (there are numerous collections - white canvas sneakers bobby pins, navy blazers, hand-made print frocks) to Miranda July's 'Thirty-Six Women' dressing project, this is a must for those who love clothes, who appreciate the place of objects in our psychological life and are intrigued by collecting.





Sheila Heti's How Should a Person Be? - in parts memoir, in turns fiction - is both a delightfully indulgent and a searingly cynical exploration of herself. Heti, in her late 20s, is struggling to write, has become disenchanted with her marriage and life in general, and keeps asking herself how she should be. It's almost as if around the next corner she expects to find the elusive 'answer'. As she records her best friend Margaux's thoughts and feelings, and their conversations, the book becomes a chaotic journey of self-discovery. There are some vicious portrayals here of friends, acquaintances and her social circle, and some delightful moments of honest and enduring relationships. This is strange, brave and hilarious novel. 


Rachel Kushner's ability to take a large difficult subject and make it personal, meaningful and funny appeals to me a lot. In Telex from Cuba the voices of her young protagonists, children looking on as mayhem descends, are vital and honest. This novel is a delicious insight into Cuba pre-Castro revolution; it is a Cuba financially dominated by American companies and their company men, by corrupt officials and a military dictatorship, a Cuba of one-up-manship and power games that ultimately turn in on themselves. It is also very funny - Kushner sends up the rebels, the Americans and the Cuban businessmen with aplomb, and yet it is also a tragedy on many levels - the son who is disenchanted, who joins the rebels in the jungle but in later years lives an uncomprehendingly conservative life in middle America; the teen who is Cuban-born but American, always looking from the outside, who yearns for what is missing; the girl who sees the injustice but is powerless; the complicated lives of paternalistic overseers who neither belong in their adopted country nor in their native one. The concepts of colonialism (cultural and financial), cheap labour, power struggle, political manipulation, corruption and class are played out convincingly within this novel. Kushner takes Cuba and her array of misfits and gives us a novel lush with description, full of violence and pleasure, and wonderfully absorbing. 



The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova
As surreal and "
beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella" (to use words written in anticipation by le Comte de Lautréamont (with particular emphasis with reference to this collection upon the sewing machine)), Grodova's stories, full of baroque detail worn via patina to a thinness that makes them dangerously sharp to handle, take place in a world governed by strange customs, where significance is found in odd conjunctions, where obsessions assume the fatal ordinariness of custom, where only misfits approach normal, and where childhood is the conduit of immense threat, to children, parents and to wider society. All that is riven will henceforth continue to diverge, but Grodova's stories, lying on an axis of mitteleuropean flavour somewhere between Grimm's tales and accounts of Soviet privations, and on another axis somewhere between the stories of Angela Carter (pleasantly close to these) and  those of Ben Marcus, have as much delight (and even hope) in them as they do despair, for, after all, with an imagination as fertile (and a hand as steady) as Grudova's, anything could happen (not only the dreadful).

>> Read 'Unstitching'.
>> The author's playlist for the book.
>> Posing.



Glaxo by Hernan Ronsino
Told from four different viewpoints and in four different decades, the story of both the effects of and the contributory factors to a murder does no so much unfold as fold in and in upon itself, becoming increasingly claustrophobic, despite the beautifully spare and open prose and the pampas setting, until it closes in upon the pivotal act itself, which causes all the previously read sections to shift and realign and reveal their significance. The mechanism is so well-oiled and precisely wrought that the great weights of economic change and the political turbulence of the 1950s (including of the León Suarez massacre) swing just out of sight. When the train tracks are torn up in the 1970s, the Glaxo pharmaceutical factory continues to loom above the town and above the novel, out of sight, a shadow across the text.




What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund
Peter Mendelsund has designed some of the best book covers of recent years, and one of the reasons that they are so successful is that they arise from his careful reading of the texts. In this book, which reminds me of Ways of Seeing and The Medium is the Massage in its interplay of image and text giving an appealingly light touch to a heavy subject, he is particularly interested in the visual effects of reading. These visual effects are non-optical and comprise mental images fished into awareness by the ‘unseen’ black hooks of text; they are the fictional correlative of the visual effects fished into awareness by ‘actual’ optical stimulation. I suppose a difference between reading text and reading actuality is that when reading text the scope of our awareness has been set for us by the authority of the author (our surrogate self), whereas actuality is undifferentiated and incomprehensibly overstimulative and the necessary repression of stimuli in the reading of it is dependent on personality, conditioning, socialisation and practicality. Emphasising that he is interested in the experience of reading rather than the memory of reading (if such a distinction can be sensibly made), Mendelsund treats in depth an aspect of what I would call ‘the problem of detail’: what is the role of the reader in ‘completing’ the text? Whereas the reader’s ‘actual’ experiences of course inform and colour their reading of detail, I’m not sure I entirely agree with Mendelsund’s opinion that when reading we ‘flesh out’ characters in our imagining of them or place them in ‘familiar’ contexts – while we are reading we may well also indulge in such extra-textual self-massage, but I don’t think that this is the reading itself. 



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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