The Paperback Bookshop Newsletter for January 2020
Is it possible for an experience of literature to be an experience of life? Can we think of words as existing in three dimensions, as things we move through, in much the same way that we move through the world? And how can we account for their effects beyond the page as we carry them with us, in our bodies, in our selves, holding on to them over the course of our years?
In Between the Word and the World, Anna MacDonald sets out on an eloquent exploration of these questions and the issues they raise. Drifting with ease from fiction to philosophy, from digital ephemera to psychogeography, from archival voyages to personal correspondence, her essays repeatedly probe the mysteries of writing and its power over our moods, our perceptions ... Find out more
After her mother's death, Nunu moves from Istanbul to a small apartment in Paris. One day outside of a bookstore, she meets M., an older British writer whose novels about Istanbul Nunu has always admired. They find themselves walking the streets of Paris and talking late into the night. What follows is an unusual friendship of eccentric correspondence and long walks around the city. A wise and unguarded glimpse into a young woman's coming into her own, Walking on the Ceiling is about memory, the pleasure of invention, and those places, real and imagined, we can't escape. Find out more
A family in New York packs the car and sets out on a road trip. A mother, a father, a boy and a girl, they head south west, to the Apacheria, the regions of the US which used to be Mexico. They drive for hours through desert and mountains. They stop at diners when they're hungry and sleep in motels when it gets dark. Meanwhile, thousands of children are journeying north, travelling to the US border from Central America and Mexico. A grandmother or aunt has packed a backpack for them, putting in a bible, one toy, some clean underwear. Lost Children Archive intertwines these two journeys to create a novel full of echoes and reflections – a moving, powerful, urgent story about what it is to be human in an inhuman world. Find out more
On Drugs explores Chris Fleming’s experience of drug addiction, which begins while he is a student before escalating into a life-threatening compulsion. A philosopher by training, Fleming combines meticulous observation of his life with a keen sense of the absurdity of his actions. He describes the intricacies of drug use and acquisition, their impact on the intellect and emotions, and the chaos of arrests, hospitalisations and family breakdown. In confronting the pathos and comedy of drug use, On Drugs also opens out into meditations on the self and its deceptions, on popular culture, religion and mental illness, and the tortuous path to recovery. Find out more
Helen Garner has kept a diary for almost all her life. But until now, those exercise books filled with her thoughts, observations, frustrations and joys have been locked away, out of bounds, in a laundry cupboard. Now, Garner has opened her diaries and invited readers into the world behind her novels and works of non-fiction. Yellow Notebook, Diaries Volume One spans about a decade beginning in the late 1970s just after the publication of her first novel, Monkey Grip. Find out more
From the vast underground mycelial networks by which trees communicate to the ice-blue depths of glacial moulins, and from North Yorkshire to the Lofoten Islands, Robert Macfarlane traces a voyage through the worlds beneath our feet. He reaches back into the deep history of the planet, through the layers of rock and ancient buried objects, and forward to the future, the legacy of the anthropocene and the world we bequeath our descendants. The lyrical, the political and the philosophical come together in this profound exploration of the relationship between landscape and the human heart. Find out more
What unites Katherine Mansfield, Charlie Chaplin, Shakespeare, Rilke, Beethoven, Brexit, the present, the past, the north, the south, the east, the west, a man mourning lost times, a woman trapped in modern times? Spring. The great connective. With an eye to the migrancy of story over time and riffing on Pericles, one of Shakespeare’s most resistant and rollicking works, Ali Smith tells the impossible tale of an impossible time. In the third of her 'seasons quartet' and in a time of walls and lockdown, Smith opens the door. Find out more
Like those of Kafka or Poe, Amparo Davila's stories are masterful,terrifying and mesmerizing. With acute psychological insight, Davila follows her characters to the limits of desire, paranoia, insomnia, loneliness, and fear. She is a writer obsessed with obsession, she makes nightmares come to life through the everyday: loneliness sinks in easily like a razor-sharp knife, some form of evil lurks in every shadow, delusion takes the form of strange and very real creatures. Find out more
There is a village outside London, no different from many others. Everyday lives conjure a tapestry of fabulism and domesticity. This village belongs to the people who live in it and to the people who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England's mysterious past and its confounding present. But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort who has woken from his slumber and is listening, and watching the village as he searches, intently, for his favourite. Looking for the boy. Lanny. A devastating story told with anarchy, humour and enchantment. Find out more
Deftly shifting perspectives and time periods, The Topeka School is a story about the challenges of raising a good son in a culture of toxic masculinity. It is also a startling prehistory of the present: the collapse of public speech, the tyranny of trolls and the new right, and the ongoing crisis of identity among white men. A radical new take on the American family saga. Find out more
"Josef and Frederika Seifert made a bad marriage--he so metaphysical, she, furious frustrated singer, furious frustrated femme fatale, unfaithful within two months of the wedding day. The setting is small town Germany between the wars; the Seiferts are just those 'ordinary people' who helped Hitler rise, bequeathing their daughter, who tells their story, a legacy of grief and guilt. Rosmarie Waldrop's haunting novel, superbly intelligent, evocative and strange, reverberates in the memory for a long time, a song for the dead, a judgment." Angela Carter Find out more
Nana Kwame Adjei-brenyah$22.99
A collection of stories that tackle racism and cultural unrest, and explore the many ways people fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In the first story Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unstinting reckoning of the brutal prejudice of the US justice system. Friday Black and How to Sell a Jacket as Told by Ice King show the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all. Fresh, vital and contemporary these stories speak to the world we live in now. Find out more
Sexy Female Murderesses is a warning to those who would never heed it anyway, and a childlike joy for others, like floating your rubber duck down a river of blood. Grills slices up figures of history, autobiography and speech, in a delightful springtime bloodbath for famously evil and evilly famous women—dead or alive, young and old. Burn your house down, poison your whole family, shoot your lovers point blank: just read this book before you do. Find out more
Fascinated by caves and digging holes since childhood, Manfred discovers a path through to another realm via a Neolithic copper mine at Mount Gabriel in Schull, Ireland. The world of Hollow Earth, while no Utopia, is a sophisticated civilisation. Yet Ari and Zest choose to accompany Manfred back to the surface world. So begins an extraordinary adventure in which the three wander the Earth like Virgil's Aeneas. While Kinsella's parable draws on a rich tradition of Hollow Earth literature and science fiction, its trajectory vividly captures our 21st century world in crisis. Find out more
Christos Tsiolkas' novel takes as its subject the events surrounding the birth and establishment of the Christian church. Based around the gospels and letters of St Paul, Damascus explores the themes that have inhabited Tsiolkas as a writer: class, religion, masculinity, patriarchy, colonisation, exile; the ways in which nations, societies, communities, families and individuals are united and divided. A powerful and unflinching dissection of doubt and faith, tyranny and revolution, and cruelty and sacrifice. Find out more
Lisa Gorton began writing Empirical when the Victorian Government of the time threatened to cut an eight-lane motorway through the heart of Royal Park in Melbourne. She walked repeatedly in the park, seeking to understand how the feeling for place originates, and how memory and landscape fold in and out of each other. From this close-up study, in its second part the collection opens out into poems which track, through chains of influence, and a phantasmagoric procession of images, the trade between empire, commodities and dreams of elsewhere. Find out more
Nina Leger, Laura Francis$22.99
Jeanne moves from room to room. In the anonymous hotel bedrooms of Paris - Hotel Agate, Hotel Prince Albert, Hotel Prince Monceau, Hotel Coypel, Hotel Nord & Champagne - she undresses man after man, forgetting faces, names, pleasures, thoughts, and all physical attributes but one. In her head, a palace of memories is being built, image by new image, lover by new lover. Find out more
On the morning of 26 April 1986 Europe witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in history- the explosion of a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Soviet Ukraine. In Chernobyl, Serhii Plokhy tells the stories of the firefighters, scientists, engineers, workers, soldiers, and policemen who found themselves caught in a nuclear Armageddon. While it is clear that the immediate cause of the accident was a turbine test gone wrong, Plokhy shows how the deeper roots of Chernobyl lay in the nature of the Soviet political system and the flaws of its nuclear industry. Find out more
These stories of heartbreak, travel and seduction follow the fates of characters who, by choice or by force, are travelling beyond the boundaries of their known worlds. We meet them negotiating reluctant departures, navigating uncertain returns or biding the disquieting calm that often precedes decisive action. From the Catskill Mountains to New South Wales, the abandoned island outports of Newfoundland to the sprawl of an Australian metropolis, this collection shows us how the places we inhabit shape us in ways both remote and intimate. Find out more
Now, twenty years after Jimmy Corrigan, Ware is publishing Rusty Brown in book form. It is, he says, 'a fully interactive, full-colour articulation of the time-space interrelationships of six complete consciousnesses on a single Midwestern American day'. Ware tells each of their stories in minute detail producing another masterwork of the comics form that is at once achingly beautiful, heartbreakingly sad and painfully funny. Find out more
Kitty Hawke, the last inhabitant of a dying island sinking into the wind-lashed Chesapeake Bay, has resigned herself to annihilation... Until one night her granddaughter blows ashore in the midst of a storm, desperate, begging for sanctuary. For years, Kitty has kept herself to herself - with only the company of her wolfdog, Girl. But blood cannot be turned away in times like these. And when trouble comes following her granddaughter, Kitty fights fiercely to save her. A mythic parable of home and kin. Find out more
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We print a quarterly newsletter that's available at the shop. It contains details of our selection of the best new books for the quarter. The newsletter comes out in March, June, September and December.