A Big Thank You
Six months ago when The Book Lounge was but wood, boxes and electrical wires, we could not have imagined the amazing response we have received from the book-loving public. We were welcomed with open arms into the East Precinct community in Town and there are so many regular faces that cheer us up by talking about and recommending great reads. Thank you for making The Book Lounge a living entity. Indeed great books and great chat.
The Angel of Grozny: Inside Chechnya
by Ã…sne Seierstad
Ã…sne Seierstad, who opened the proverbial book world doors in her haunting bestseller, The Bookseller of Kabul, was also a foreign correspondent in Moscow at the time of the Russian invasion of Chechnya in 1994. During this time she regularly travelled to Chechnya to witness a country plunged into chaos. In 2006 and 2007 she returned, travelling in secret, and in great danger, to report on the lives of the children – the orphans, the wounded, the lost. This is a compelling and heartbreaking account of the aftermath of a violent conflict, its consequences and its tragedies.
The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot
by Naomi Wolf
In a timely call to arms, the bestselling author of The Treehouse argues that political freedom in America is under assault, and warns that there is little time to lose if democracy is to be preserved in the US. In a stunning indictment of the Bush administration Wolf uses authoritative research and documentation to identify a ˜fascist shift’ in American politics, and to show how events of the last six years in the US parallel steps taken in the early years of some of the worst dictatorships, such as Germany, Russia, China and Chile. An urgent and powerful defence of the core values of American democracy, The End of America is both a frightening and important book.
This Secret Garden: Oxford Revisited
by Justin Cartwright
Described as “One of the finest novelists currently at work” (The Guardian), Justin Cartwright is mainly known for his fiction. In this beautiful little work of non-fiction, he returns to his old university, Oxford, where he graduated from Trinity College – and explores the symbolic significance of the university, and what it stands for. He revisits old haunts, explores the rituals and eccentricities, talks to dons past and present, and discusses some of the great debates which make Oxford stand out. A gem.
Maps and Legends
by Michael Chabon
Published under the McSweeney imprint, and beautifully designed as always, this is a collection of non-fiction from one of our favourite authors, Michael Chabon. In this series of essays Chabon ruminates on death and writing, on entertainment and museums, on Will Eisner and a guy called Ralph (who Chabon never met!). Though his subjects range far and wide, his writing is always engaging and intriguing, and this will be a delight for Chabon and McSweeney fans alike. Michael Chabon’s novels have also just been given gorgeous new designs and are all now in stock.
Raising the Dead: A True Story of Death and Survival
by Phillip Finch
On New Year’s Day 2005, Australian Dave Shaw travelled half way around the world to a steep water-filled crater in the Kalahari Desert. His destination: nearly 900 feet below the surface. What happened a week later at Bushman’s Hole is the stuff of nightmares and cave diving legend. Shaw and his partner Don Shirley had come all this way to retrieve the body of fellow cave diver, Deon Dreyer, who had died in the depths of Bushman’s Hole over 10 years previously. Both men descended into that terrifying darkness, but only one came back. This book was written with the co-operation of all the families, and is a testament to the bravery and determination involved in a sport which few have the guts to attempt.
The Kitchen Readings: Untold Stories of Hunter S. Thompson
by Michael Cleverly and Bob Braudis
Two close friends of Hunter’s tell it like it really was – and the truth is scary! The cover warns us that the book contains the following: “Unsafe use of powerful firearms in combination with explosives; Cultivation of Illegal Crops; Piloting of automobiles under impaired conditions” and much more. This is not for the faint-hearted, but is a must for all Gonzo-fans, and those curious to see the real Hunter S – warts, shotgun and all!
Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story
by Frederik Peeters
This graphic novel is a love story with a difference. When Fred meets Cati their connection is instantaneous, and a bond grows between them. A few weeks later, a nervous Cati tells Fred that her and her 3 year-old son are HIV positive. With great beauty and economy Peeters traces the development of their intimacy, and their silver lining in the form of a wonderful doctor, whose affection and fears allows them to confront their fears. This beautiful book explores a daunting and difficult subject in a refreshingly honest way – a deeply personal story that will resonate with anyone who has had to deal with illness in their lives.
Piripiri Starfish: Portugal Found
by Tessa Kiros
A new and sumptuous collection of recipes from the author of Falling Cloudberries and Apples For Jam. When she takes her family to live and travel in Portugal, she falls in love with this serene and ancient country, and is charmed by the old-fashioned ways. Portugal has everything she loves – the markets, the sea and the beautiful old pousadas – though she would have gone for the pasties de nata alone! A beautiful collection of fresh and original recipes that will make the driest mouth water!
The Secrets of the Chess Machine
by Robert LÃ¶hr
A fabulous and intriguing romp through eighteenth-century Europe – the fictional account of Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen who unveiled his astonishing invention – an unbeatable chess machine, the Mechanical Turk – in Vienna in 1770. But the Baron is no genius, he is a conman – and the machine hides a dark secret as Tibor the dwarf, who is locked inside, will attest. “A racy fictional treatment of one of the biggest hoaxes of the eighteenth century. [A] swashbuckling tour – complete with duelling officers and fainting FrÃ¤uleins.“(!) The Times
My Brother’s Book
by Jo-anne Richards
Lily is not happy about her brother Tom’s newly published memoir. His depiction of their nomadic childhood in which they were dragged from one small town to another by their father does not do justice to her memories. Nor does his description of the betrayal in later years that tore their sibling relationship apart. Much of the first part of this fantastic novel consists of Lily’s riposte to her writer-brother. The quality of the writing takes My Brother’s Book into rare territory – it combines the moreish unputdownable element of the best thrillers, with an examination of weighty themes of contested memory, betrayal and identity in modern South Africa. A brilliant read that will surely feature when it comes time to dish out awards for the best books of 2008.
The White Tiger
by Aravind Adiga
Meet Balram Halwai, the ˜White Tiger’ – servant, philosopher, entrepreneur, murderer…! Born in poverty, in a village in the dark heart of India, Balram is taken out of school to work in a teashop, but as he crushes coal and wipes tables, he dreams of escape. His big break comes when he is hired as a chauffeur by a rich Delhi landlord. As Balram learns of a new and very different morality at the heart of a new India, he wonders if a successful man might spill a little blood on the way to the top…? Balram’s journey is utterly amoral, brilliantly irreverent, deeply endearing and totally unforgettable.
The Welsh Girl
by Peter Ho Davies
Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize last year. It is Wales, 1944, and Captain Rotheram, a Jewish refugee working for British Intelligence, arrives to interrogate the infamous captive Rudolf Hess. Among the inquisitive locals is a 17 year-old girl named Esther, who longs to experience the outside world. The paths of the three cross, and their lives are irrevocably altered. “Moving, memorable and beautifully written…a gripping human story…it leaves one thinking about the nature of cowardice and patriotism, identity and roots.” Sunday Telegraph
A Partisan’s Daughter
by Louis de BerniÃ¨res
From the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Birds Without Wings, a funny, sad and deeply moving love story. Chris is bored – he’s trapped in a loveless, sexless marriage, and a stranger to the youth culture of the 1970s. One night he invites a young prostitute into his car. Roza is Yugoslavian and, though only in her twenties, has already seen and suffered much. Over the next months she tells him stories of her life, as a wholly unexpected love blossoms between them But is she telling the truth? And does it really matter to them? De BerniÃ¨res is a brilliant writer, and his books are always very rewarding.
Something to Tell You
by Hanif Kureishi
Hanif Kureishi follows the fortunes of a successful psychoanalyst who is reflecting on his coming-of-age in 1970s suburbia. Kureishi brilliantly captures the sexual freedom of the decade, the exhilaration of the drug culture and the violent struggle between the forces of labour and capital in the UK. He has created a brilliant cast of characters who wrestle with their limits as human beings in a struggle to find out who they really are.
“Something To Tell You possesses all of Hanif Kureishi’s soulful mordancy and wry, demotic humour. No one else casts such a shrewd and gimlet eye on contemporary life” William Boyd
Jonny’s New York Choice
When Nietzsche Wept
by Irvin D. Yalom
An extraordinary and brilliant recounting of an imaginary meeting between Friedrich Nietzsche and Dr Josef Breuer in Vienna, in 1882. Breuer, a mentor to the young Sigmund Freud, was a medical doctor, greatly interested in the embryonic ˜talking cure’ – what was later to become psychoanalysis (his treatment of a patient, Anna O, using this method was the first case featured in Freud’s Studies In Hysteria). Nietzsche was, at this time, suffering from debilitating migraines (it was some years before his descent into madness), and consulted many physicians throughout Europe. So much for the factual set-up. What follows is a glorious trip to the depths and heights of mental despair and anguish, the bond of friendship and defeat of one’s deepest fears. The book feels very much like a rollercoaster ride through consciousness, the limits of trust, and what it might take to break through both. It is an exhilarating, moving and deeply thought-provoking book, and we would recommend it to anyone.
Keep an eye out in-store for two of Yalom’s other books, The Schopenhauer Cure and Love’s Executioner.
Children’s Book Joy
Our featured author and illustrator this month has to be the great Maurice Sendak. Born in New York in the late 20s to Jewish-Polish immigrant parents he decided to become an illustrator after seeing Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Best known for creating the glorious Max in Where the Wild Things Are, he worked as an illustrator for other children’s authors for a long time. Ruth Krauss’s breathtaking works such as Charlotte and the White Horse and Open House for Butterflies are great examples as to how these two created masterpieces together. (Ruth Krauss’s work is also illustrated by Helen Oxenbury – indeed a lucky lady). His book In the Night Kitchen was published to a lot of controversy as it features a naked little boy. It has been challenged by many and even banned in various American states. Yes, Texas. In true Book Lounge style we of course stock this delightful and endearing story of a boy who dreams in flour and other dry ingredients. We have been stocking up on Maurice Sendak’s work, including The Nutshell Library, The Sign on Rosie’s Door and even The Happy Rain written by his brother Jack and illustrated by Maurice. There are rumours of a Where the Wild Things Are movie in 2009 with amongst others, Dave Eggers working on the screenplay. A McWild Thing Sweeney.
Ander Lewens is die nuutste vrystelling van AndrÃ© P. Brink. Die dekblad beskryf die boek as “‘n Roman in drie dele“… ofskoon dit netsowel as drie afsonderlike novella’s gesien sou kon word (Deel 1: Die Blou Deur het dan ook reeds op sy eie verskyn). Hier is daar egter sprake van ˜n roman wat meer is as die som van sy 3 dele: nie net is die hoofkarakters almal kennisse van mekaar nie, maar tematies word daar ook deurgaans eggo’s van elkaar ontlok. Die spil waarom elke storie draai is in werklikheid ˜n eksplorasie van die mens se enkele identiteit. Een van Brink se karakters lees Murakami, en op ˜n manier wat mens aan laasgenoemde herinner, word die hoofkarakter deurgans gekonfronteer met ˜n onverklaarbare en onthemende vreemdheid in sy mees intieme self. Telkens word die karakter dan genoop om sy eie identiteit, lewe en verhoudings opnuut vanuit ˜n nuwe gesigspunt onder die loep te neem. Hierdie is egter nie ˜n swaar boek – eerder is dit ˜n ryke, sensuele, erotiese en soms komiese “wat as?” speletjie wat vermaak en terg soos iets wat altyd net die hoek van mens se oog vang, maar nooit vol vasgekyk en vasgepen kan word nie.
CD of the Month
by Simon van Gend
This is the second album from local singer/songwriter Simon van Gend, and it is a beautiful collection of warm and poignant songs – reflections on life, love, heartbreak and laughter. Simon has an expressive and intimate voice, perfectly suited to these musings. The songs were all recorded at home in front of the fire and this intimacy reflects in the end product. This is the perfect album to curl up with this winter. “Bringing new meaning to words lo-fi and minimal, Simon Van Gend and his trusty guitar deliver 13 real-life and very essential acoustic extensions we should all be playing…for those who dig deeper to discover what’s real” Pulse Magazine
What They Said
After Evelyn Waugh’s avowed enemy, Randolph Churchill, went into hospital to have a benign tumor removed, Waugh commented, “What a typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that isn’t malignant and remove it.” (!)