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The Printed Word

Jo's Reads for April 2019

Imprints Booksellers - Thursday, April 11, 2019

Every so often, I read a book that becomes a companion of sorts: it enters my head and informs my thoughts, both while I’m reading it and when I’m not. I identify with it, argue with it, follow its threads to read (or re-read) other books or writers explored in its pages. I have a kind of conversation with it, where I apply its ideas and experiences to my own life.



This kind of book is probably my favourite kind.



And this was my experience with Julienne van Loon’s The Thinking Woman, a wonderfully engaging and absorbing blend of memoir, essay, interview and cultural analysis. Julienne van Loon dives deep into six vital areas of life – love, play, work, fear, wonder, friendship – in conversation with leading international women thinkers and their work. She talks to Laura Kipnis on love, Siri Hustvedt on play, Marina Warner on wonder, Rosi Braidotti on friendship, socialist feminist Nancy Holmstrom on work, and weaves discussions with nuclear activist Helen Caldicott and Julia Kristeva with the experiences of Rosie Barry on fear. To all of this, she also applies her own life experience. In the first chapter, a chance conversation with a colleague about a book sparks an intense connection that leads to the first step in deconstructing her life – long-term partner, mortgage, full-time academic job – and rebuilding it as something more intrinsically meaningful.



I love this kind of genre-blending writing that brings together memoir and the personal, and seeks to answer big human questions, inviting the reader along on the journey.



Here are some other books in the same category, by some of Australia’s most exciting thinking women:



Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin, recently shortlisted for the Stella Prize, is sure (in my humble opinion) to keep on winning attention and accolades. ‘Nobody can write like Maria Tumarkin,’ says Helen Garner on the back of the book. No one else quite thinks like her either. In this brilliant, intensely intimate book, Maria tells the extraordinary stories of various people, knitting herself into their lives and using them (and her own life) to pose perilously difficult questions.

In one essay, she interviews a girl who has lost her sister to suicide, over several years; she explores what happens to a school – students, teachers, community and culture – following a suicide. She explores the unspoken and the complex; explains the problems with well-meant platitudes. She opens herself up as the mother of a teenage daughter who ‘has not been well in her soul (her body too) for a long time now’. She is brave and fierce and compassionate. She is relentlessly ethical, relentlessly dismissive of bullshit in all its forms.

Another essay tells the story of a Holocaust survivor whose incredible story Maria meant to write, until she took so long with it that someone else wrote it instead – and then she tells it anyway, and weaves her own difficulty in finding the right way to tell it into the story. There is the social worker whose clients come from ‘entrenched disadvantage’, or as Maria prefers to call it, ‘a tar pit’, saying the term ‘entrenched disadvantage’ is: ‘ugly like most of the language to do with people who don’t get to do much choosing in their lives, and whose every creep forward – in a good year every couple of creeps – gets followed by a bone-splintering triple tumble backwards.’

Axiomatic, like The Thinking Woman, will challenge and possibly change the way you think. It will also take you far beyond your own lived experience, while relating everything back to a broader, encompassing humanity.



City of Trees by Sophie Cunningham takes an unusual premise: it’s a collection of personal essays that reflect on twenty-first-century life through the lens of the intimate relationship between humanity and our environment. Sophie, a Melbourne-based writer and former publisher, profiles and pays tribute to trees in each paired duo of essays: one on trees and place, the other dwelling more deeply in the experience and politics of a place. So, for example, the first essays are ‘Coast Live Oak’ and ‘Fall’, on being married to her partner Virginia in San Francisco (where they were living) and again in their Fitzroy, Melbourne home, after marriage was legalised in Australia. It’s about place, gentrification, belonging, acceptance, politics and connection. And it’s about love. I’ve just started reading this one, but the writing is crisp, intelligent and reflective, and I’m already looking at trees and the places around me more closely, seeing us as connected. Climate change also runs through these essays, in a way that makes its politics and lived experience speak to each other, and to the reader.



Finally, Lee Kofman’s Imperfect explores her uncomfortable relationship with her own body – scarred in a childhood heart operation and a horrific bus accident, aged ten – in the context of looking at other ‘imperfect’ bodies, and how our culture represents and accepts or excludes them. She interviews people addicted to body-modification, disabled people, and others with societally different bodies, reflects on books and films, and questions her own assumptions. Central to this book is her story of growing up in the remote Soviet Union (where it was customary to bribe surgeons to do a good job – her mother bribed one notorious surgeon not to operate on her)  and as an adolescent in body-obsessed, at-war Israel, before moving to Melbourne, Australia, and reinventing herself anew. Lee is a thoughtful and excellent writer, and this book is a fascinating read.

Our Summer Reading Guide is available now!

Imprints Booksellers - Friday, November 18, 2016







































Warming Winter Reads - June 2016

Imprints Booksellers - Monday, June 20, 2016

 


Is there a better remedy against the winter months than hot tea and good books? C.S. Lewis thought not:

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough
or a book long enough to suit me.”

With rain drumming against the windows and the heat set to high, we've put together a selection of reading suggestions to spark your curiosity and ignite your imagination. New offerings from Lionel Shriver, Ellen Van Neerven, Lindy West, Edward O. Wilson and more promise something for everyone at Imprints Booksellers but, sadly, tea is not included. Best to brew your own, we think. In the mean time, happy winter reading!


Upstairs at the Strand: Writers in Conversation at the Legendary Bookstore

edited by Jessica Strand and Andrea Aguilar, Paperback, $22.99

Based on a series of talks pairing writers of note at NYC’s beloved bookstore, Upstairs at the Strand offers candid and behind-the-scenes accounts of the ways leading writers work, think, and live. The book features such celebrated novelists, playwrights, and poets as Martin Amis, Paul Auster, Renata Adler, Patti Smith, and Mark Strand, as well as contemporary stars such as Alison Bechdel, Junot Díaz, and Téa Obreht.



The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction

by Neil Gaiman, Paperback, $29.99

The View from the Cheap Seats draws together, for the first time ever, a myriad of non-fiction writing by international phenomenon and Sunday Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman. From Make Good Art, the speech he gave at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia that went viral, to pieces on artists and legends including Terry Pratchett, Lou Reed and Ray Bradbury, the collection offers a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.



The Gustav Sonata

by Rose Tremain, Paperback, $29.99

Fierce, astringent, profoundly tender – and spanning the twentieth century – Rose Tremain's beautifully orchestrated novel tells  the story of Gustav Perle who grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem like far-off concerns. Exploring themes of betrayal and the struggle for happiness, The Gustav Sonata is a testament to the passionate love of a childhood friendship as it is tested over a lifetime.



The American People: Volume 1 - Search for My Heart

by Larry Kramer, Paperback, $36.99

Forty years in the making, The American People sets forth Larry Kramer's reimagined vision of his homeland's history. This is the story of one nation under a plague, contaminated by greed, hate, and disease and host to transcendent acts of courage and kindness. Volume One of this remarkable opus is a work of ribald satire, prophetic outrage, and dazzling imagination. It is an encyclopedic indictment, written with outrageous love and a sharp eye for the pitfalls of contemporary American culture.



Happy People Read and Drink Coffee

by Agnes Martin-Lugand, Paperback, $27.99

Diane has a charmed life as a wife, a mother and the owner of a literary café in Paris until a tragic accident claims the lives of her husband and daughter. Trapped and haunted by her memories, Diane withdraws from friends and family, unable and unwilling to move forward. But, one year on, Diane shocks her loved ones by leaving Paris to move to a small town on the Irish coast to rebuild her life alone. At once heartbreaking and uplifting, Happy People Read and Drink Coffee is the inspirational story of a woman finding new meaning in the wake of devastating loss.



Autumn is for Reading . . .

Imprints Booksellers - Monday, March 30, 2015



Sun-drenched days and crisp, autumn nights: it's our very favourite time of the year for curling up with a good book! Featured below are a few of the best new books available for you to enjoy throughout March, April and May.

 

Mr Wilkinson's Simply Dressed Salads (Hardcover, $49.95)

Matt Wilkinson's passion is based on sourcing the very best seasonal and local produce to make simple dishes that allow the flavours of fine ingredients to shine through. His ethos is simple: food in season tastes the best, especially when it's grown in tune with nature.

And don't be fooled into thinking salads are just for the summer months: warming autumnal dishes stuffed with fresh root vegetables and wholesome greens abound in this beautifully presented cookbook.


Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman (Paperback, $29.99)

Over the last few decades, Edith Pearlman has staked her claim as one of the great practitioners of the short story. Her understanding and skill have earned her comparisons to Anton Chekhov, John Updike and Alice Munro. Her latest work, gathered in this stunning collection of twenty new stories, is an occasion for celebration. Honeydew is a feast for the imagination. Read it cover-to-cover or savour each story as and when time permits—Pearlman's is a delicately crafted and thoroughly immersive world which you'll be glad to visit.

 

Dancing in the Dark: My Struggle Book 4 by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Paperback, $32.99)

Is it a memoir? Is it a novel? No-one's quite sure and we're not sure we mind! Dancing in the Dark is part four in the internationally acclaimed series of autobiographical literary bestsellers collectively known as My Struggle. This chapter charts Karl's life as a young adult, fresh out of high school and working as a teacher in a remote fishing village in the arctic circle. But, as always with the mysterious Norwegian writer, things turn very dark very quickly and his young character is lured by the vices which have plagued his own father's life. If you're new to the series, it's best to begin with Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 1.

 

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (Paperback, $29.99)

In the grand pop culture tradition of his previous bestse
llers, The Men Who Stare at Goats and The Psychopath Test, investigative journalist Jon Ronson tackles the darker side of the internet and asks a very important question: when someone trangresses online, just how far is too far in shaming them? Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You've Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws - and our very scary part in it.

The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer (Paperback, $32.99)

Philosopher, ethicist and author Peter Singer presents a challenging new movement in the search for an ethical life, one that has emerged from his own work on some of the world's most pressing problems. The concept is seemingly simple: effective altruism involves doing the most good possible. Singer introduces us to an array of remarkable people who are restructuring their lives in accordance with these ideas, and shows how, paradoxically, effective altruism often leads to greater 
personal fulfilment. The Most Good You Can Do is a practical, hopeful and ultimately inspiring call-to-action.

Airmail: Taking Women of Letters to the World edited by Marieke Hardy & Michaela McGuire (Paperback, $29.99)

Women of Letters have conquered the world with their passion for correspondence. Taking their literary salons on a global tour, they've collected an astounding and sweeping array of contributions from some of the world's brightest talents. Their latest instalment features writing from a range of Australian and international icons including Lional Shriver, Eimer McBride, Moby, Anne Summers, Julian Burnside, Val McDermid, Tim Minchin and Lev Grossman.



Imprints' November Newsletter is Available Now!

Imprints Booksellers - Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Our November Newsletter is available now and features a sublime selection of our favourite new books, including offerings from Christos Tsiolkas, Lily Brett, Barry Hill and J.M.Coetzee! There's also an irresistable offer to have our Summer Reading Guide delivered free-of-charge to your home or office when it launches later this month.
Click the link below to  have your copy of the Summer Reading Guide delivered.

 

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