The Paperback Bookshop Newsletter for February 2020
Four siblings. Two summer houses. One terrible secret. To what degree should the horrors of the past be allowed to shake the present? Stalked by the darkest of shadows from her childhood, a woman struggles against the tide dragging her back to the family she fled years ago. This emotionally searing novel is at once a wrenching look at a family fractured and a meditation on the nature of trauma and memory. Find out more
Carmen Maria Machado$32.99
In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing experience with a charismatic but volatile woman, this is a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Each chapter views the relationship through a different lens, as Machado holds events up to the light and examines them from distinct angles. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction, infusing all with her characteristic wit, playfulness and openness to enquiry. Find out more
San Francisco, 2017. In an alternate time track, Hillary Clinton won the election and Donald Trump's political ambitions were thwarted. London, 22nd century. Decades of cataclysmic events have killed 80 per cent of humanity. A shadowy start-up hires a young woman named Verity to test a new product- a 'cross-platform personal avatar' that was developed by the military as a form of artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, characters in the distant future are using technological time travel to interfere with the election unfolding in 2017. . . Find out more
Six years ago, Burma seemed to be in the midst of a miraculous transformation, from the darkest of dictatorships to a peaceful liberal democracy. Yet, today, it stands accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide and the international image of Aung San Suu Kyi appears tarnished beyond repair.
Based on in-depth and exclusive interviews with many of those directly involved in the transition from dictatorship, and on his own personal involvement in the peace process, Thant Myint-U reveals what has really taken place in Burma this century and how the truth is far more interesting, and far more complex, than the simple morality tales that are usually told. Find out more
In 1971 Deirdre Bair was a journalist and recently minted PhD who managed to secure access to Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel Beckett. He agreed that she could write his biography despite never having written - or even read - a biography herself. The next seven years of intimate conversations, intercontinental research, and peculiar cat-and-mouse games resulted in Samuel Beckett: A Biography.Bair's next subject Simone de Beauvoir came with a catch - De Beauvoir and Beckett despised each other - and lived essentially on the same street.Her seven-year relationship with the domineering and difficult de Beauvoir required a radical change in approach, yielding another groundbreaking literary profile. Find out more
A lonely yowie emerges from the bush to attend the Desperate and Dateless Ball. Mysterious creatures descend from the sky to place a ban on footy. A shark named Bruce turns up in the local swimming pool. A fisherman enjoying a boys' weekend on the Murray River finds perspective where he least expects it. In SHIRL, Wayne Marshall takes a range of what-if scenarios to their fabulist and comedic extremes. Superbly inventive and powerful, these fourteen stories skewer contemporary Australian society - particularly the crisis of masculinity and national identity - in insightful and yet hilarious ways. Find out more
In nine essays Vivian Gornick returns to the books that have shaped her. From a reporter in 1970s New York, to a feminist negotiating love and independence, to a writer in the jubilant sanctity of older age- Gornick's life is compelling, and in the characters of literature she finds versions of herself through the years, each time she opens the page. Infused with trademark verve and insight, this collection is a masterful appreciation of literature and its ability to illuminate. Find out more
Towards the End presents the contemporary world as broken and dying, a world that is moving irreversibly towards collapse as well as rebirth. The collection begins with the speaker’s disillusion with the ideals of capitalism, and the ironic realisation that happiness and prosperity may no longer be attainable. The middle section of the collection reflects, with dark humour and a controlled anger, on the dysfunction of our socio-political systems and the signs of their disintegration. The final poems in the book imagine a universal humanity beyond the failures of the contemporary world, and prophesy global resistance, rejuvenation and revolution. Find out more
A woman on a passenger ship in 1958 gets involved with a young, wild Barry Humphries. A man looks back to the 1970s and his time as a member of Australia's least competent scout troop. In 1988, a teenage boy recalls his sexual initiation, out on the tanbark. In 2015, two sisters text in Kmart about how to manage their irascible, isolated mum. Then, in the near future, a racist demagogue addresses the press the day after his electoral triumph. Outstandingly original, bitingly satirical and written in a remarkable range of voices, A Couple of Things Before the End is a powerful vision of where we are - and where we may be headed. Find out more
Max (author) Porter$19.99
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
Brian Greene takes readers on a breathtaking journey from the big bang to the end of time and invites us to ponder meaning in the face of this unimaginable expanse. He shows us how, despite the universe's tendency toward entropy, remarkable structures form- planets, stars, and galaxies provide islands in a sea of disorder; biochemical mechanisms animate life; neurons, information, and thought give rise to complex consciousness, which in turn creates cultures and their timeless myths and creativity. Through a series of nested stories Greene provides us with a clearer sense of how we came to be, a finer picture of where we are now, and a firmer understanding of where we are headed. Find out more
Danny - Dhananjaya Rajaratnam - is an illegal immigrant in Sydney, denied refugee status after he has fled from his native Sri Lanka. Working as a cleaner, living out of a grocery storeroom, for three years he's been trying to create a new identity for himself. And now, with his beloved vegan girlfriend, Sonja and with his hidden accent he is as close as he has ever come to living a normal Australian life. But then one morning, Danny learns a female client of his has been murdered. Over the course of a single day, evaluating the weight of his past, his dreams for the future, and the unpredictable, often absurd reality of living invisibly and undocumented, he must wrestle with his conscience and decide if a person without rights still has r ... Find out more
2038. On a remote island off the Pacific coast of British Columbia stands the Greenwood Arboreal Cathedral, one of the world's last forests. Wealthy tourists flock from all corners of the dust-choked globe to see the spectacle and remember what once was. 1908. Two passenger locomotives meet head-on. The only survivors are two young boys, who take refuge in a trapper's cabin in a forest on the edge of town. In twenty-six years, one of them, now a recluse, will find an abandoned baby - another child of Greenwood - setting off a series of events that will change the course of his life, and the lives of those around him. Structured like the rings of a tree, Greenwood moves from the future to the present to the past, and back again, to tell the ... Find out more
When he was 14, Joshua Wong made history. While the adults stayed silent, Joshua staged the first ever student protest in Hong Kong to oppose National Education - and won. Since then, Joshua has led the Umbrella Movement, founded a political party, and rallied the international community around the anti-Extradition Bill protests, which have seen 2 million people - more than a quarter of the population - take to Hong Kong's streets. His actions have sparked worldwide attention, earned him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, and landed him in jail twice. Unfree Speech chronicles Joshua's path to activism, collects the letters he wrote as a political prisoner, and closes with a powerful and urgent call for all of us globally to defend our dem ... Find out more
Timur Vermes, Jamie Bulloch$32.99
Refugee camps in America are swelling and Europe has closed its borders. The refugees have no future, no hope, and no money to pay the vast sums now demanded by people smugglers. When model and star presenter Nadeche Hackenbusch comes to film at the largest of the camps, one young refugee sees a unique opportunity: to organise a march to Europe, in full view of the media. Viewers are gripped as the vast convoy moves closer, but the far right in Germany is regrouping and the government is at a loss. A devastating, close-to-the-knuckle satire about the haves and have-nots in our divided world. Find out more
Possible Minds is an ideal introduction to the landscape of crucial issues AI presents. The collision between opposing perspectives is salutary and exhilarating; some of these figures, such as computer scientist Stuart Russell, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, and physicist Max Tegmark, are deeply concerned with the threat of AI, including the existential one, while others, notably robotics entrepreneur Rodney Brooks, philosopher Daniel Dennett, and bestselling author Steven Pinker, have a very different view. Serious, searching and authoritative, Possible Minds lays out the intellectual landscape of one of the most important topics of our time. Find out more
‘It starts to rain as I step out of my hotel ….’ So begins Subhash Jaireth’s striking collection of essays on the writers, and their writing, that have enriched his own life. The works of Franz Kafka, Marina Tsvetaeva, Mikhail Bulgakov, Paul Celan, Hiromi Ito, Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza and others ignite in him the urge to travel (both physically and in spirit), almost like a pilgrim, to the places where such writers were born or died or wrote. In each essay a new emotional plane is reached revealing enticing connections. As a novelist, poet, essayist and translator born into a multilingual environment, Jaireth truly understands the power of words across languages and their integral connections to the life of t ... Find out more
Delving deep into the Australian landscape and the environmental challenges we face, Fire Country is a powerful account from Indigenous land management expert Victor Steffensen on how the revival of cultural burning practices, and improved 'reading' of country, could help to restore our land. From a young age, Victor has had a passion for traditional cultural and ecological knowledge. This was further developed after meeting two Elders, who were to become his mentors and teach him the importance of cultural burning. Developed over many generations, this knowledge shows clearly that Australia actually needs fire. Moreover, fire is an important part of a wholistic approach to the environment, and when burning is done in a carefully considered ... Find out more
In the midpoint of her life, an unnamed woman visits a series of hotel rooms. They are in Avignon, Prague, Oslo, Auckland, Austin - but they could be anywhere. And in each of these spaces, nothing happens; though something may have happened, or be about to happen. And always it involves a man. Our narrator dwells in these pauses and cusps, drifts, procrastinates, as mysteriously, from that 'black box within', emerge the clues as to why she is here, what she is hoping to run from, or towards, or back to; or to recreate. Find out more
Set in contemporary times, Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming tells the story of a Prince Myshkin-like figure, Baron Bela Wenckheim, who returns at the end of his life to his provincial Hungarian hometown. Having escaped from his many casino debts in Buenos Aires, where he was living in exile, he longs to be reunited with his high-school sweetheart Marika. Confusions abound, and what follows is an endless storm of gossip, con men, and local politicians, vividly evoking the small town's alternately drab and absurd existence. All along, the Professor-a world-famous natural scientist who studies mosses and inhabits a bizarre Zen-like shack in a desolate area outside of town-offers long rants and disquisitions on his attempts to immunize himself from ... Find out more
Set during Mussolini's 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King casts a light on the women soldiers who were written out of history. With the threat of Mussolini's army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid. As the war begins in earnest, Hirut and other women long to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. When Emperor Haile Selassie goes into exile and Ethiopia quickly loses hope, it is Hirut who offers a plan to maintain morale. Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war. Find out more
Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has for centuries watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries the fates of three women are linked- to this place, to each other. In the early 1700s, Sarah, accused of being a witch, flees for her life. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Ruth navigates a new house, a new husband and the strange waters of the local community. Six decades later, the house stands empty. Viv, mourning the death of her father, catalogues Ruth's belongings and discovers her place in the past. Intricately crafted, The Bass Rock burns bright with anger and love. Find out more
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