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Storytime: ABC

Saturday, January 29th 2011 at 11:00 AM

All books in the English language consist of 26 amazing characters called the ALPHABET. Crazy, zany fun tales of learning and laughter have been written to help us all remember our ABC’s.

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Tattoo Convention 28th – 30th January

Friday, January 28th 2011 at 11:00 AM

Join the Book Lounge with a choice selection of delicious body art and alt culture books at this year’s Southern Ink Exposure event at the Waterfront Pavillion.

For venue and event details please go to http://www.capetattooconvention.co.za/

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Read this!

Friday, January 28th 2011 at 10:25 AM

A brilliant and hilarious new story from Justin Fox…

Brainy Hooker, Good Price

 

By Justin Fox

 

 

 

1 THE CLIENT

One thing about being a private investigator, you’ve got to learn to go with your hunches. That’s why when a moegoe named Frikkie Wordsworth walked into my office and laid his cards on the table, I should have trusted the cold chill that shot up my spine.

‘Baksteen?’ he said. ‘Baksteen van der Merwe?’

‘That’s what it says on my door,’ I conceded.

‘You’ve got to help me, man. I’m being blackmailed. Please!’ He was shaking like the breasts on a dancing Zulu maiden. I pushed a glass across my desk and the bottle of Klippies I keep handy for medicinal purposes.

‘Just relax and tell me all about it.’

‘You … you won’t tell my wife?’

‘Come clean with me, Frikkie. I can’t make any promises.’

He tried pouring a drink, but you could hear the clicking sound on the other side of Voortrekker Road, and most of the stuff wound up in his lap.

‘I’m in business,’ he said. ‘Vuvuzela marketing. We import from China. Distribution round the Cape, townships, that sort of thing. Not bad business since the World Cup. Lotsa whites buying too.’

‘So?’

‘Different colours. We’re going artistic with the designs.’

‘Get to the point.’

‘I’m on the road a lot. Beaufort West, Mossel Bay, Knysna. You know how it is, can get a bit lonely. Oh no, it’s not what you’re thinking. See, Baksteen, I’m basically an intellectual. Sure, a guy like me can meet all the airheads he wants – Caprice, Wafu, La Med. But the really brainy women, they’re not so easy to find at short notice.’

‘Keep talking.’

‘Well, I heard of this young girl. Eighteen years old. A BA student from Stellenbosch. For a price, she’ll come over and discuss any subject – the contemporary South African novel, San rock art, Booker Prize nominations. Exchange of ideas. You see what I’m driving at?’

‘Not exactly.’

‘I mean my wife is great, don’t get me wrong. But she won’t discuss JM Coetzee with me. Or Eugene Marais. I didn’t know that when I married her. See, I need a woman who’s mentally stimulating, Baksteen, and I’m willing to pay for it. I don’t want any involvement, just a quick intellectual experience, then I want the girl to leave. Christ, Baksteen, I’m a happily married man!’

‘How long has this been going on?’

‘Six months. Whenever I have that craving, I call Lolly. She’s the madam, with a master’s in 20th-century lit. Goes both ways: English and Afrikaans. She sends me an intellectual babe, see?’

So he was one of those guys whose weakness was really clever women. I felt sorry for the poor bugger. I figured there must be a lot of okes in his position, who were starved for a little intellectual communication with the opposite sex and would pay through the nose for it.

‘Now she’s threatening to tell my wife,’ he said.

‘Who is?’

‘Lolly. They bugged the City Lodge hotel room. They’ve got tapes of me discussing Orgie and White Writing, and, well, really getting into some issues. They want fifty grand or they go to Janine. Baksteen, you’ve got to help me! Janine would die if she knew she didn’t turn me on up here.’

The old prostitute con. I’d heard rumours that the detectives at Caledon Square were onto something involving a group of educated women, but so far they’d hit a brick wall.

‘Get Lolly on the phone for me.’

‘What?’

‘I’ll take your case, Frikadel. I charge R1500 a day, plus expenses. You’ll have to sell a lot of vuvuzelas.’

‘It won’t be fifty grand’s worth,’ he said with a grin. Then he picked up the phone and dialled Lolly. I took it from him and winked. I was beginning to like him.

2 THE SETUP

Seconds later, a sultry voice answered, and I told her what was on my mind. ‘I understand you can set me up with an hour of good chat,’ I said.

‘Sure, darling. What do you have in mind?’

‘I’d like to discuss Olive Schreiner.’

The Story of an African Farm, Undine, Trooper Peter Halket?’

‘What’s the difference?’

‘The price. That’s all. Seminal texts are extra.’

‘What’ll it set me back?’

‘Five hundred, maybe 750 for The Story of an African Farm. You want a comparative discussion: Schreiner and Marlene van Niekerk – the evolution of the plaasroman? That could be arranged for a grand.’

‘The money’s not a problem,’ I told Lolly and gave her the number of a room at the Breakwater Lodge.

‘You want blonde, brunette or someone a little … darker?’

‘Surprise me,’ I said, and hung up.

That evening in the hotel room I shaved, dabbed on a splash of Fahrenheit and downed a dinky bottle of Jack from the mini-bar. Then I trawled Wikipedia, Litnet and Book SA on my blackberry to try and get up to speed. Who knew where the conversation might lead? Hardly an hour had passed before there was a knock at my door. I opened and standing there was a young blonde, beautiful in her own way.

‘Hi, I’m Mary-Anne.’ They really knew how to appeal to your fantasies: long hair, flat-chest, dark rings under the eyes, no make-up, a bag bulging with books.

‘I’m surprised you weren’t stopped, walking into the hotel dressed like that,’ I said. ‘The security guys can usually spot an intellectual.’

‘A fifty normally helps them look the other way.’

‘Shall we begin?’ I said, motioning her to the bed. She got right down to it. ‘I think we could start by looking at how Schreiner uses the character of Waldo to explore her own disillusionment with Christianity.’

‘That’s why Waldo’s death is so tragic: he can find no redemption.’ I was bluffing. I wanted to see if she’d go for it.

‘No, don’t you feel that through his free-thinking mysticism, he finds a kind of salvation in Nature, what Schreiner calls the Universal Unity?’

‘Right, right. God, you’re right,’ I murmured.

‘I think Schreiner is leaning heavily on Herbert Spencer’s First Principles to underpin Waldo’s spiritual development.’ I let her go on. She was barely 19 years old, but already she had developed the hardened facility of the pseudo-intellectual. She rattled off her ideas glibly, but it was all mechanical. Whenever I offered an insight, she faked a response: ‘Oh yes, Baksteen. Yes! That’s deep. A post-Darwinian take on Nature – why didn’t I see it before?’ We talked for about an hour and then she said she had to go. She stood up and I paid her.

‘Thanks, sweetheart,’ she said.

‘There’s plenty more where that came from.’

‘What are you trying to say?’ I had piqued her curiosity. She sat down on the bed again.

‘Suppose I wanted to have a party?’ I said.

‘Like, what kind of a party?’

‘Suppose I wanted Homi Bhabha explained to me by two girls?’

‘Oh, wow.’

‘If you’d rather forget it –’

‘You’d have to speak to Lolly,’ she said. ‘It’ll cost you big bucks.’ Now was the time to nail her. I flashed my private-investigator’s badge and told her it was a bust.

‘What!?’

‘I’m with the cops, honey, and discussing Schreiner for cash will land you in the tjoekie.’

‘You bastard!’

‘Better come clean, Mary-Anne. Unless you want to tell your story to Captain Ndlovu down at Caledon Square.’

She began to cry. ‘Don’t turn me in, Baksteen,’ she said. ‘I needed the money to complete my master’s. I’ve been turned down for a bursary. Twice. I’m the wrong colour. Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck!’

It all poured out, the whole story. Southern suburbs upbringing, English Olympiad, Grahamstown festivals year in and year out. She was every chic you saw waiting in line at the Labia, in earnest conversation about a new Damon Galgut novel at the Woodstock Lounge or pencilling the words ‘Yes, yes!’ into the margin of Portrait with Keys. It’s just that somewhere along the line this girl made a wrong turn.

‘My dad wanted me to do a BComm. I needed cash to keep going with lit. A friend said she knew a married guy whose wife wasn’t very profound. He was into the Sestigers. She couldn’t hack it. I said sure, for a price I’d talk Ingrid Jonker with him. I was nervous at first. I faked a lot of it. He didn’t care. My friend said there were others. Oh, I’ve been bust before. I got caught reciting Stephen Watson in a parked car at Rhodes Memorial, and I was once stopped and frisked at the Cape Town Book Fair. Once more and I’m really in the shit.’

‘Then take me to Lolly.’

She bit her lip, took a deep breath, and said, ‘The Book Lounge is a front.’

‘Yes?’

‘Like those adult shops that have a back door for extras, know what I mean?’

I made a quick call on my cell to Caledon Square and put the boys in blue in the picture. Then I said to her, ‘Okay, you’re off the hook, for now. But don’t leave town.’

‘Stellenbosch library?’

‘Ja, okay, but not over Sir Lowry’s Pass, got it?’

She gratefully tilted up her face towards mine. ‘I can get you photographs of Alan Paton reading,’ she said.

‘Some other time, honey.’

3 LOLLY’S

I walked into the Book Lounge. The man behind the desk came over to me, a big chap with a beard and corduroy jacket, leather patches on the sleeves. ‘Can I help you?’ he said.

‘I’m looking for The Poetics of Space. I think the bloke’s name is Bachelor or Butcher –’

‘Bachelard, Gaston. French philosopher. Been very popular with the lady students of late. I’ll have to check if we have any left in stock.’

I fixed him with a look. ‘Mary-Anne sent me,’ I said.

‘Oh, in that case, go downstairs to the basement and through to the back.’ He pressed a button. I found my way past the children’s literature section and into a corridor. Suddenly a wall of books opened, and I walked like a lamb into the bustling pleasure palace known as Lolly’s. Red wallpaper and Victorian decor set the tone. Pale, nervous girls with black-rimmed glasses and unkempt hair sat primly on sofas, riffling Penguin Classics provocatively. A black woman with a big smile, possibly Congolese, winked at me. Nodding towards a room at the back, she said, ‘Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, eh?’

But it wasn’t only intellectual experiences on offer. They were peddling emotional ones, too. For R500, I learned, you could ‘relate without getting close.’ For a thousand, a girl would lend you her back copies of Carapace, have dinner at the Hussar Grill, and then let you cuddle her on the couch while watching faded Athol Fugard videos. For R1500, you got the works: a mousy blonde would pretend to pick you up at DVD Nouveau, let you read her master’s thesis, get you involved in a screaming quarrel at Rafikis over Andre Brink’s representation of women, and then fake a suicide at Three Anchor Bay – the perfect evening, for some guys.

‘Like what you see?’ a voice said behind me. I turned and found myself standing face to face with the business end of a .38. It was Lolly. The voice was the same, but Lolly was a man. His face was hidden by a mask.

‘You’ll never believe this,’ he said, ‘but I don’t even have a university degree. I was thrown out for bad attendance. Too much Nusas and Shawco, not enough Chaucer.’

‘Why the mask?’

‘Habit. I’ve played many writers in my time. I once devised a complicated scheme to take over New Contrast, but it meant I had to pass for Hugh Hodges. I went to Durban for an operation. There’s a doctor in Ballito who gives people Hugh’s features – for a price. Something went wrong. I came out looking like Lionel Abrahams, with Helen Moffett’s voice. That’s when I started working the other side of the law.’

Quickly, before he could tighten his finger on the trigger, I went into action. Heaving forward, I snapped my elbow across his jaw and grabbed the gun as he fell back. He hit the ground like a ton of bricks. He was still whimpering when the cops showed up.

‘Nice work, Baksteen,’ said Captain Ndlovu. ‘When we’re through with this guy, the Fraud Service boys wants to have a talk with him. A little matter involving the annotated manuscript of Long Walk to Freedom. What scum! Take him away.’

Later that night, I looked up an old client of mine named Charlize. She was blonde. She had graduated with distinction, the only difference being that her major was in physical education – more my thing.

* An adaptation of ‘The Whore of Mensa’ by Woody Allen from Without Feathers

New Contrast Magazine 50th Birthday!

Thursday, January 27th 2011 at 5:30 PM

Yes, New Contrast, the oldest surviving literary magazine in South Africa is joining us in celebrating it’s 50th birthday. Editor Hugh Hodge will play host at this festive occasion which will feature readings from the following writers who have contributed to their celebratory new edition – no. 152 already!
Mike Cope
Rosemund Handler
Kelwyn Sole
Consuelo Roland
Ken Barris
Karin Schimke
Danie van Jaarsveld
Bulelwa Basse
Geoffrey Haresnape
Martha Evans
Paul Mason
Silke Heiss
Tom Eaton
Liesl Jobson

This is an evening not to miss!

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January 2011

Tuesday, January 25th 2011 at 3:49 PM

Welcome to the January Newsletter, and here’s wishing our customers the very best of life for 2011.

We’ll start off, as we do at this time of year, with a sneak peek at just some of the wonderful literary goodies we can look forward to this year…

 

Fiction

One of the most anticipated highlights will no doubt be The Pale King (Hamish Hamilton), David Foster Wallace’s posthumously published story of o Illinois tax office trainee ‘David Foster Wallace’ entering a workplace so monotonous that employees get boredom-survival training.

Chuck Palahniuk returns with Damned (Jonathan Cape), all about eleven year-old Madeleine, who finds herself in hell and is unsure why – based on the structure of a Judy Blume novel, this is sure to be a treat for the fans.

Troubled Man (Harvill Secker) is a welcome return for Henning Mankell’s cynical and world-weary detective Kurt Wallander, after a decade’s absence.

1Q84 (Harvill Secker) by Haruki Murakami features a love affair at long distance between a would-be writer and a religious cult, and was a huge sensation on publication in Japan.

Cain by (Random House) is the last book José Saramago wrote before he died last year, and gives us his take on the first book of the Bible.

River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh (John Murray) is the second, long-awaited volume in the Ibis trilogy (due in July for all those who are wchamping at the bit).

Booker Winner Aravind Adaga brings us Last Man in the Tower (Atlantic), a kaleidoscopic portrait of a changing Mumbai peopled by the residents of an old apartment block ripe for redevelopment.

A welcome return this year for the author of the wild and wonderful Gone Away World. Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker (Heinemann) promises mad monks, psychopaths, villainous potentates, scientific geniuses, giant submarines, girls in pink leather engine driver’s couture, and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe – and you can’t ask more than that!

When the Killing’s Done (Bloomsbury) by TC Boyle focuses on the cataclysmic clash of two mighty wills (and two somewhat lesser ones) on opposite sides of a bitter ideological divide.

In A Man of Parts (Harvill Secker), based on the life of HG Wells, David Lodge depicts a man as contradictory as he was talented: a socialist who enjoyed his affluence, an acclaimed novelist who turned against the literary novel; a feminist womanise, irresistible and exasperating by turns, but always vitally human.

Other People’s Money (Bloomsbury) – In a world still uneasy after the financial turmoil of 2008, Justin Cartwright puts a human face on the dishonesties and misdeeds of the bankers who imperiled us in this both cautionary and uncomfortably familiar story.

Siri Hustvedt returns to fiction with The Summer Without Men by (Picador) which catalogues Mia Fredericksen’s attempts to deal with her husband’s request for a pause in their 30-year marriage so that he can indulge in his infatuation with a young Frenchwoman.

Following up his Booker Prize-nominated Northern Clemency, Philip Hensher dissects the peaceful civility and spiralling paranoia of a small English town in King of the Badgers (4th Estate).

The Forgotten Waltz by Ann Enright (Jonathan Cape) is a story of remembered love set in contemporary Dublin, her first novel since her Booker prize-winning The Gathering.

That stalwart of English eccentricity (or should that be normalcy), Alan Bennett, returns with the intriguingly titled Smut: Two Unseemly Stories (Faber/Profile).

Beryl Bainbridge’s last novel, The Girl in the Polka-Dot Dress (Little, Brown), is a vintage Bainbridge tale of murder and retribution, set around the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, underpinned by Bainbridge’s trademark and uniquely dark comedy.

 

 

Short Stories

The stories in Julian Barnes’ long-awaited third collection Pulse (Jonathan Cape) are attuned to rhythms and currents: of the body, of love and sex, illness and death, connections and conversations.

White Collar, Blue Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work (Harper Perennial) by Richard Ford is a chronicle of how Americans are employed, how they find work and leave it, refuse it or scorn it, how it defines, fascinates, frustrates and ennobles us.

In Joyce Carol Oates new collection Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery & Suspense (Corvus) the need for love is obsessive, self-destructive and unpredictable, and it shows that the most deadly mysteries often begin at home.

 

 

Non-Fiction

In The Children of Lovers: A Memoir of William Golding by his Daughter (Faber) Judy Carver seeks to document warmth and fun of her father, but also the painful side to her upbringing. as her difficult, brilliant, conflicted father changed from a poor schoolteacher to a Nobel prize-winning novelist.

Claire Tomalin follows up her bestselling The Invisible Woman (a biography of Dickens’ mistress Nelly Ternan) with a full life of Dickens himself (Penguin), examining the paradoxes of his life: from how he deserted his wife yet wrote sentimentally about the family, to how he selflessly supported the poor, yet cut off some of his own relatives.

The ‘biographer of London’, Peter Ackroyd returns with London Under (Chatto & Windus) in which he explores the fascinating and surprising history of subterranean London.

Collected Essays by Hanif Kureishi (Faber) – a companion volume to 2010’s Collected Stories, which showcases Kureishi’s remarkable scope and his talent for capturing the modern spirit.

Acclaimed historian Simon Sebag Montefiore turns his attention on the Middle East with Jerusalem: The Biography of a City (Weidenfeld), in which he explores how this small, remote town become the Holy City, the ‘centre of the world’ and now the key to peace in the region. This is sure to be a landmark book on the subject.

Paul Theroux celebrates fifty years of wandering the globe by collecting the best writing on travel from the books that shaped him, as a reader and a traveler in The Tao of Trave (Hamish Hamilton)l. Excerpts from Theroux’s own work sit alongside Vladimir Nabokov, Henry David Thoreau, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway and others.

In How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism (Little, Brown), distinguished historian Eric Hobsbawm investigates its influences and analyses the spectacular reversal of Marxism’s fortunes over the past thirty years.

One of the most lyrical travel writers of today, Colin Thubron, returns to the far east, trekking through Nepal and into Tibet to Mount Kailas, the most sacred of the world’s mountains. In To A Mountain in Tibet (Chatto & Windus), Thubron joins the many pilgrims to this mountain, and shares their stories.

In Bird Cloud: A Memoir (4th Estate) Annie Proulx invites us to share her experience in the building of her new home on a rich plot of unspoilt prairie, and her pleasure in uncovering of the layers of American history locked beneath the topsoil of Bird Cloud – the name she gave to 640 acres of Wyoming wetlands and prairie.

Highly acclaimed science writer James Gleick gives us an account of our journey from the invention of language and scripts to the internet and tweeting, as well as what it all might lead to  in The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood (Fourth Estate).

Does one planet really matter among the immensity of the Cosmos? John Gribbin is here to persuade us that it does. In this ground-breaking and provocative new book The Reason Why: Snowball Earth and Intelligent Life Gribbin argues that we owe our existence to the impact of a ‘supercomet’ with Venus 600 million years ago.

 

 

Exciting stuff – but now back to the wonderful books we have in store right now…

 

Fiction

 

Sunset Park by Paul Auster

In the sprawling flatlands of Florida, 28-year-old Miles is photographing the last lingering traces of families who have abandoned their houses due to debt or foreclosure. Miles is haunted by guilt for having inadvertently caused the death of his step-brother, a situation that caused him to flee his father and step-mother in New York 7 years ago. What keeps him in Florida is his relationship with a teenage high-school girl, Pilar, but when her family threatens to expose their relationship, Miles decides to protect Pilar by going back to Brooklyn, where he settles in a squat to prepare himself to face the inevitable confrontation with his father that he has been avoiding for years. Pulsing with the energy of Auster’s previous novel, Invisible, Sunset Park is as mythic as it is contemporary, as in love with baseball as it is with literature. It is above all, a story about love and forgiveness – not only among men and women, but also between fathers and sons.

 

 

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem

Chase Insteadman is a handsome, inoffensive fixture on Manhattan’s social scene, living off his earnings as a child star. Chase owes his current social status to an ongoing tragedy much covered in the tabloids: His teenage sweetheart and fiancée, Janice Trumbull, is trapped by a layer of low-orbit mines on the International Space Station, from which she sends him rapturous and heartbreaking love letters. Like Janice, Chase is adrift, and trapped in a vague routine punctuated only by Upper Eastside dinner parties and engagements. Into Chase’s life comes Perkus Tooth, a wall-eyed free-range pop-critic, whose soaring conspiratorial riffs are fueled by high-grade marijuana, mammoth cheeseburgers and a desperate ache for meaning. Perkus’ countercultural savvy and voracious paranoia draw Chase into another Manhattan, where questions of what is real, what is fake and who is complicit take on a life-shattering urgency. Beautiful and tawdry, tragic and forgiving, Lethem’s new novel is as always, utterly unique.

 

 

The Traitor’s Wife by Kathleen Kent

In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin’s home, taking charge of the neglected household and locking wills with everyone around her – including a mysterious Welshman who works for the family, a man whose forceful nature matches her own. Thomas Carrier is known throughout New England for his immense strength and height, and as Martha discovers pieces of his past, and his role as a soldier in the English Civil War, her fascination of him grows. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, near and far. In London, King Charles II is assembling a crew of assassins to capture or kill the man who executed his father. As the threat of the assassins draws closer, Martha and Thomas’ relationship deepens and grows, and Thomas suddenly has everything to lose. It seems that even in the remotest parts of New England, he cannot be free from the haunting legacy of his past.

 

The Weekend by Bernard Schlink

Old friends and lovers reunite for a weekend in a secluded country home after spending decades apart. This isn’t, however, just any old reunion, and their conversations of the old days aren’t typical reminiscences. After 24 years, Joerg – a convicted murderer and terrorist, is released from prison on a pardon. A former member of the Red Army Faction (or Baader-Meinhof Group), the announcement of Joerg’s release is sure to send shock waves throughout Germany. But before this happens, his group of friends – most of whom were RAF sympathisers – gather for his first weekend of freedom. They are invited by Christiane, Joerg’s devoted sister, whose suffocating concern for her brother is matched only by the unrelenting pull of Marcko, a dangerously passionate young man intent on using Joerg to continue the cause.

 

Player One by Douglas Coupland

A real-time five-hour story set in an airport cocktail lounge during a global disaster. Five disparate people are trapped inside: Karen, a single mother waiting for her online date; Rick, the down-on-his-luck airport lounge bartender; Luke, a pastor on the run; Rachel, a cool Hitchcock blonde incapable of true human contact; and finally a mysterious voice known as Player One. Slowly, each reveals the truth about themselves while the world as they know it comes to an end. In the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut and J. G. Ballard, Coupland explores the modern crises of time, human identity, society, religion and the afterlife. The book asks as many questions as it answers and readers will leave the story with no doubt that we are in a new phase of existence as a species — and that there is no turning back.

 

The Big, the Beautiful and the Slightly Odd

 

Ars Sacra: Christian Art & Architecture of the Western World from the very beginning up until now

This huge and beautiful book pays tribute to the art and architecture of Christianity; a comprehensive compendium presenting just under 2000 years of Christian art, from early Christianity to the present day, beautifully and heavily illustrated. This glorious book allows the viewer to come within grasp of the displayed objects, and to leisurely indulge in the details. Excellently researched texts take the reader on a tour through the epochs and highlight the specific changes in the sacral art, architecture, and culture over the centuries. This is an extraordinary tribute to some of the most extraordinary and evocative art in the world.

 

Fashion: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers and Labels by Charlotte Seeling

Spanning 150 years of couturiers, designers and labels, this is an amazing, authoritative and opulently illustrated source. This book documents fashion as a way of life from its origins in the late nineteenth century until our own time. Which social, historical and cultural developments coalesced to allow fashion to become what it is today? Which designers had an especially significant impact on their fashion eras, and what did their creations look like? All the text has been superbly researched, and included are essays dedicated to topics such as Japanese designers; accessories; and models and muses. Expressive photographs portray fashion from the liberation of women from the corset all the way to the minimalist and luxurious, generous and high-necked, playful and sober, conservative and revolutionary creations of modern designers.

 

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

The New York Times bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger, has crafted her first graphic novel after the success of her critically acclaimed novels-in-pictures The Three Incestuous Sisters. The Night Bookmobile tells the story of a wistful woman who one night encounters a mysterious disappearing library on wheels which includes every book she has ever read. In seeing her history and her most intimate self in this library, she embarks on a search for the bookmobile. But over time, her search turns into an obsession as she longs to be reunited with her own collection and her memories. The Night Bookmobile is a haunting tale both of transcendence and the passion for books.

 

You Can Wear it Again: A Celebration of Bridesmaids Dresses by Meg Mateo

A valentine to the bridesmaids dress, You Can Wear it Again is a survey of 50 years of bridal attendant fashion. 90 photos of real-life weddings reveal the crossroads where fashion trends and the bride’s fantasies intersect, which could mean packs of wedding attendants done up in anything from floor-length shiny yellow taffeta gowns to full Victorian costume, replete with parasols. Bursting with hundreds of dresses, miles of tulle, acres of flowers and countless floppy hats, You Can Wear It Again is an homage to the bridesmaid experience.

 

Timothy McSweeney – McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern #36

Inside this 275-cubic-inch full-color head-crate, there are all the things you’d hope for: a 100-page annotated fragment of Michael Chabon’s lost novel, incredible new stories from John Brandon and Colm Toibin, Jack Pendarvis’s Jungle Geronimo in Gay Paree eight astounding booklets in all, along with some other things on top, enough for hundreds and hundreds of pages of perusal, every bit of it, like we said, contained in a more-or-less-life-size friendly-looking head. It will fit on your shelf, it is compatible with most hats, and the stuff inside is wonderful – get yours today!

 

 

The A-Z of Food in South Africa by Sannie Smit and Margaret Fulton

This is the most comprehensive book of its kind, covering every aspect of every kind of food in South Africa, listed alphabetically for your convenience, from the more common to the more unusual. This revised edition has been updated and provides a range of traditional recipes, basic family favourites and internationally famous dishes. The A–Z of Food and Cookery in South Africa is the perfect reference book for beginners as well as the most experienced cook. With more than 1 000 entries and 1 500 recipes, it is a book that is destined to become the constant kitchen companion.

 

 

You Can Stick It!

Finally, a sticker book for grown-ups!

The modern world is awash with stick-on signs telling us what to do. No entry. No smoking. Speed cameras. Behave. Watch out. Beware. Now wash your hands!

This book is the ideal antidote. Hundreds of hilarious, subversive and just plain silly stickers to help you hit back at the bossy, finger-wagging experts who think they are in charge.

There are spoof Health & Safety messages, amusing wine labels, insulting gift tags, stickers for the fridge, cash machines, public transport, books, DVDs and even your houseplants.

Juvenile, irresponsible, and completely pointless – You Can Stick It! is the stress-busting self-help book for our times.

You Can Stick It! has hundreds of stickers for all occasions:

• Book stickers including NEVER TO BE A MAJOR HOLLYWOOD FILM and SHOULD HAVE BEEN SELECTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE

• Public transport stickers such as PLEASE KEEP YOUR LONGINGS WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES, NO EYE CONTACT 9-6.30 MON-FRI and NO TUTTING

• Cash machine stickers including SPEAK YOUR PIN CLEARLY INTO THE MICROPHONE and PRESS 1 TO SPEAK TO AN OPERATOR

And many more…

 

Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss

The name Marie Curie is enshrined in every schoolchild’s mind but the vivid and romantic story of Marya Salome Sklodwska – the young Polish national who discovered radioactivity – is not well known. Lauren Redniss, a celebrated “New York Times” illustrator and storyteller has brought her story to life in this beautiful and exquisitely researched book. Drawing on her original archival research in Europe and the United States – and a host of new interviews with Curie family members and scientists who carry on the Curie tradition – Redniss has created a fascinating and deeply moving book. Curie’s life was marked by both extraordinary scientific discovery and dramatic personal trauma – from her romantic partnership with Pierre, through his tragic decline from radium poisoning and death in a traffic accident, to the scandalous affair with another fellow scientist that almost cost her second Nobel Prize. This book has broad appeal and offers a mixture of beautiful design and illustration, and fascinating story.

 

Local Interest

 

Positions: Contemporary Artists in South Africa edited by Peter Anders and Matthew Krouse

Ranging from resistance to education, contemporary artists are increasingly highlighting opposition to economic pressure, radical social change and rapidly changing identities – which social, political and cultural positions do individual artists adopt?

This volume presents views of some of South Africa’s most prominent artists, writers, choreographers, photographers and musicians. Produced in direct dialogue with journalists and cultural scientists from the respective art scenes, developments within today’s cultural flashpoints are illuminated in interviews, portraits and essays. Throughout, the focus is on the artists’ individual perspectives – with their specific approaches and different forms of expression they give insight into the pressing issues of South African society, showing how political art is positioned in the post-apartheid era.

 

South African Social Attitudes: Changing Times Diverse Voices by Udesh Pilay

A country’s attitude profile is as much a part of its social reality as its demographic make-up, its culture and its distinctive social patterns. It helps to provide a nuanced picture of a country’s circumstances, its continuities and changes, its democratic health, and how it feels to live there. It also helps to measure the country’s progress towards the achievement of its economic, social and political goals. 

This is the first in a new series aimed at providing an analysis of attitudes and values towards a wide range of social and political issues relevant to life in contemporary South African society. This volume presents the public’s responses during extensive nation-wide interviews conducted by the HSRC in late 2003. The findings are analysed in three thematic sections – the first provides an in-depth examination of race, class and politics; the second gives a critical assessment of the public’s perceptions of poverty, inequality and service delivery, and the last explores societal values such as partner violence and moral attitudes.

South African Social Attitudes is essential reading for anyone seeking a guide to contemporary social or political issues and debates. It should prove an indispensable tool not only for government policy-makers, social scientists and students, but also for general readers wishing to gain a better understanding of their fellow citizens and themselves.

 

Finish en Klaar: Selebi’s Fall from Interpol to the Underworld by Adriaan Basson

After returning from exile, Jackie Selebi was one of the ANC’s acclaimed civil servants. In 1999 his friend Thabo Mbeki appointed him chief of police. And in 2004 Selebi became the world’s top cop when he was elected president of Interpol. Selebi was on top of the world, but not for long. The assassination of mining boss Brett Kebble in 2005 opened the door to South Africa’s dark side – a world where organised criminals tangoed with crooked cops and power, where money and greed ruled the day. How did a respectable-seeming man like Selebi get entangled in this web of deceit?

In this gripping first account of Selebi’s rise and fall, award-winning investigative reporter Adriaan Basson probes the path that led to Selebi’s downfall. And he answers the key questions: How was the man trusted by 50 million people to protect them from criminals corrupted? What damage was caused to the country’s rule of law in an effort to save one deeply compromised man’s career? And what is the wider meaning of the Selebi saga for South Africa’s democratic state?

Adriaan Basson is an award-winning journalist who has reported for Beeld and the Mail & Guardian.

 

Nine Lives: Memoirs of a Maverick Conservationist by John Varty

He has hunted silently through dense bush alongside wild leopards. He’s been attacked by charging hippo bulls and hungry lionesses. He’s taught an orphaned lion cub how to hunt. He’s watched helplessly as the Mother Leopard, whose life he shared for twelve years, died after being mauled by lions. This is John Varty, maverick film maker and conservationist, and Nine Lives is his story. Nine Lives chronicles the adventures, trials, mishaps and triumphs of John Varty’s astonishing life, tracking his progression from hunter to film maker to environmentalist. It reveals the secrets behind his close relationships with individual big cats and describes the challenges of his controversial tiger-conservation project in South Africa. It also invokes the terror of his narrow escapes from death, including charged and dangerous encounters with crocodiles and lions, and a near-fatal helicopter crash. Replete with poachers and paparazzi, Peruvian drug-smugglers and mercenaries, this is a thrilling and fascinating story. Alternately humorous and heartbreaking, stimulating and poignant, Nine Lives is a passionate account of a life lived to the full by a man driven by an intense love of the wild.

 

Facts, Figures and the Truth

 

Factopedia: Fascinating Facts about South Africa and the World

What is the most poisonous snake in South Africa? What is the happiest country in the world? What is the best-selling book ever? Who has scored the most goals in a FIFA World Cup?

Factopedia is a book of lists about South Africa and the world. It is crammed with fascinating facts about the universe, Earth, plants, animals, the body and health, food and drink, politics, business and wealth, technology and the internet, literature, arts and culture, entertainment and sport. Factopedia will tell you about the highest, the lowest, the oldest, the largest, the richest, the longest, the brightest, the first, the hardest, the most frequent, the highest-scoring, the best-selling and the most expensive of just about everything under the sun. Find out about the new dwarf planets; the world’s newest – and oldest – countries; the biggest-grossing South African and international films; the richest people in South Africa and the world; the highest prices paid for South African art; and much, much more.

 

Speaking Volumes: Conversations with Remarkable Writers by Ramona Koval

Ramona Koval has been praised as a master of the interview genre, renowned for engaging writers in conversations that are incisive, provocative, and often funny.

In this new collection, Speaking Volumes: conversations with remarkable writers, she shares the most fascinating interviews from her 2005 book Tasting Life Twice, along with brand-new ones with some of the most important writers of our times.

Through Koval, we are privy to the extraordinary minds of Joseph Heller, Joyce Carol Oates, Mario Vargas Llosa, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, David Malouf, P. D. James, John Mortimer, Ian McEwan, Amos Oz, Gore Vidal, Harold Pinter, John le Carré, Barry Lopez, Malcolm Bradbury, William Gass, Judith Wright, Les Murray, Fay Weldon, A. S. Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Martin Amis, Toni Morrison, André Brink, John Banville, Jeanette Winterson, Hanif Kureishi, and Anne Enright, among others.

 

The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire by Linda Himelstein

Vodka pioneer Pyotr Smirnov is one the most fascinating salesmen and entrepeneurs the world has ever known, and his life as recreated by Linda Himelstein, set against the Russia of Tolstoy and tsars, is a stirring chronicle of ambition and innovation that has fascinating parallels to the post-communist Russia of today. Plumbing recently unearthed archives and mountains of primary sources, Himelstein has uncovered a rich historical record. In prose that’s vivid and assured, she takes the reader beyond the formation of one of the oldest brands in business history and into the personal lives of the Smirnov family and the tumultuous events that lead to the Revolution.

 

Fate, Time and Language: An Essay on Free Will by David Foster Wallace

In 1962, the philosopher Richard Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that human beings have no control over the future. David Foster Wallace not only took issue with Taylor’s method, which, according to him, scrambled the relations of logic, language, and the physical world, but also noted a semantic trick at the heart of Taylor’s argument. Fate, Time, and Language presents Wallace’s brilliant critique of Taylor’s work. Written long before the publication of his fiction and essays, Wallace’s thesis reveals his great skepticism of abstract thinking made to function as a negation of something more genuine and real. He was especially suspicious of certain paradigms of thought that abandoned “the very old traditional human verities that have to do with spirituality and emotion and community.” As Wallace rises to meet the challenge to free will presented by Taylor, we witness the developing perspective of this major novelist, along with his struggle to establish solid logical ground for his convictions. This volume, Taylor’s original article and other works on fatalism cited by Wallace. James Ryerson’s introduction connects Wallace’s early philosophical work to the themes and explorations of his later fiction, and Jay Garfield supplies a critical biographical epilogue.

 

The Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume One

“I’ve struck it!” Mark Twain wrote in a 1904 letter to a friend. “And I will give it away – to you. You will never know how much enjoyment you have lost until you get to dictating your autobiography.” Thus, after dozens of false starts and hundreds of pages, Twain embarked on his ‘Final (and Right) Plan’ for telling the story of his life. His innovative notion – to ‘talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment’ – meant that his thoughts could range freely. The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be “dead, and unaware, and indifferent”, and that he was therefore free to speak his “whole frank mind“. The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death, so readers and fans have, for the first time, the opportunity to read Mark Twain’s uncensored autobiography in its entirety and exactly as he left it. This major literary event brings to readers, admirers, and scholars the first of three volumes and presents Mark Twain’s authentic and unsuppressed voice, brimming with humor, ideas, and opinions, and speaking clearly from the grave as he intended, but stored under lock and key since his death.

 

Book Lounge Giveaway

Just to prove that the Spirit of Christmas hasn’t entirely faded, we have 3 copies of one of our most popular December sellers to give away – Just My Type, Simon Garfield’s brilliant book of stories all about fonts. About how Helvetica and Comic Sans took over the world. About why Barack Obama opted for Gotham, while Amy Winehouse found her soul in 30s Art Deco. About the great originators of type, from Baskerville to Zapf, or Margaret Calvert, who invented the motorway signs that are used from Watford Gap to Abu Dhabi. About the pivotal moment when fonts left the world of Letraset and were loaded onto computers…and typefaces became something that we all have an opinion about – not just one for the geeks, this is a fascinating and beguiling book.

To enter to win one of these, just email us on booklounge@gmail.com – the draw will be on February 10th.

Many thanks to Book Promotions for these.

Storytime: First day at school

Saturday, January 22nd 2011 at 11:00 AM

Got the uniform, met the teacher? Today’s story time will look at storybook characters who go to school for the first time and tackle the uncertainties of that first day.

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Colleen Higgs: Lava Lamp – Poems

Thursday, January 20th 2011 at 5:30 PM

The poems in Lava Lamp are compelling: at once conversational and uncanny. Colleen Higgs tells the truth but tells it slant, insisting on the singularity of everything that is familiar – domesticity, marriage, motherhood, family. The sequence of poems set in Johannesburg is captivating.” Finuala Dowling (author of What Poets Need, I Flying, Notes from the Dementia Ward. Dowling has also recently won the Olive Schreiner Prize).

 
“Alternating between the most economical of free verse and the most elastic of prose-poetry, Higgs shows a dazzling facility with both mediums. Her poems reach into the past, isolating long-gone moments and imbue them with talismanic significance. Personal history is rendered as a series of cultural artefacts, as distinct and recognisable as the eponymous lava lamp. But even as the past is forced to stand still and submit to scrutiny, it’s meaning remains fluid and elusive.

Humour runs through the collection like a glowing thread – from the gentle and affectionate ‘an ode to Perry’ to the utterly female satire of ‘on wanting a washing machine’ and ‘where these things lead’, to the dark undertow of ‘blaming Lulu’ and the bitter pill of ‘excuses’.  Humour is used to evoke a wry smile, or in the case of ‘excuses’ a grimace of recognition.” Fiona Snyckers, author of Trinity Rising and Trinity on Air.

Colleen will be introduced by Finuala Dowling.

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Stock Alert!

Tuesday, January 18th 2011 at 4:45 PM

Just to let you know that at long last the utterly brilliant and captivating Information is Beautiful by David McCandless is now back in stock!

Storytime: Summer

Saturday, January 15th 2011 at 11:00 AM

Summer time is great for playing outdoors and having picnics and swimming. For our first story time of the new year we thought we should read some great summer stories. Ah, wish we had a Book Lounge pool….

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A Taste of 2011…

Thursday, January 13th 2011 at 12:27 PM

2010 is over, time to look forward to a new year – and what better way than to get a taste of what literary delights await us over the next few months. Here is just a small selection, in no particular order…

Fiction

One of the most anticipated highlights will no doubt be The Pale King (Hamish Hamilton), David Foster Wallace’s posthumously published story of o Illinois tax office trainee ‘David Foster Wallace’ entering a workplace so monotonous that employees get boredom-survival training.

Chuck Palahniuk returns with Damned (Jonathan Cape), all about eleven year-old Madeleine, who finds herself in hell and is unsure why – based on the structure of a Judy Blume novel, this is sure to be a treat for the fans.

Troubled Man (Harvill Secker) is a welcome return for Henning Mankell’s cynical and world-weary detective Kurt Wallander, after a decade’s absence.

1Q84 (Harvill Secker) by Haruki Murakami features a love affair at long distance between a would-be writer and a religious cult, and was a huge sensation on publication in Japan.

Cain by (Random House) is the last book José Saramago wrote before he died last year, and gives us his take on the first book of the Bible.

River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh (John Murray) is the second, long-awaited volume in the Ibis trilogy (due in July for all those who are wchamping at the bit).

Booker Winner Aravind Adaga brings us Last Man in the Tower (Atlantic), a kaleidoscopic portrait of a changing Mumbai peopled by the residents of an old apartment block ripe for redevelopment.

A welcome return this year for the author of the wild and wonderful Gone Away World. Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker (Heinemann) promises mad monks, psychopaths, villainous potentates, scientific geniuses, giant submarines, girls in pink leather engine driver’s couture, and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe – and you can’t ask more than that!

When the Killing’s Done (Bloomsbury) by TC Boyle focuses on the cataclysmic clash of two mighty wills (and two somewhat lesser ones) on opposite sides of a bitter ideological divide.

In A Man of Parts (Harvill Secker), based on the life of HG Wells, David Lodge depicts a man as contradictory as he was talented: a socialist who enjoyed his affluence, an acclaimed novelist who turned against the literary novel; a feminist womanise, irresistible and exasperating by turns, but always vitally human.

Other People’s Money (Bloomsbury) – In a world still uneasy after the financial turmoil of 2008, Justin Cartwright puts a human face on the dishonesties and misdeeds of the bankers who imperiled us in this both cautionary and uncomfortably familiar story.

Siri Hustvedt returns to fiction with The Summer Without Men by (Picador) which catalogues Mia Fredericksen’s attempts to deal with her husband’s request for a pause in their 30-year marriage so that he can indulge in his infatuation with a young Frenchwoman.

Following up his Booker Prize-nominated Northern Clemency, Philip Hensher dissects the peaceful civility and spiralling paranoia of a small English town in King of the Badgers (4th Estate).

The Forgotten Waltz by Ann Enright (Jonathan Cape) is a story of remembered love set in contemporary Dublin, her first novel since her Booker prize-winning The Gathering.

That stalwart of English eccentricity (or should that be normalcy), Alan Bennett, returns with the intriguingly titled Smut: Two Unseemly Stories (Faber/Profile).

Beryl Bainbridge’s last novel, The Girl in the Polka-Dot Dress (Little, Brown), is a vintage Bainbridge tale of murder and retribution, set around the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, underpinned by Bainbridge’s trademark and uniquely dark comedy.

Short Stories

The stories in Julian Barnes’ long-awaited third collection Pulse (Jonathan Cape) are attuned to rhythms and currents: of the body, of love and sex, illness and death, connections and conversations.

White Collar, Blue Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work (Harper Perennial) by Richard Ford is a chronicle of how Americans are employed, how they find work and leave it, refuse it or scorn it, how it defines, fascinates, frustrates and ennobles us.

In Joyce Carol Oates new collection Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery & Suspense (Corvus) the need for love is obsessive, self-destructive and unpredictable, and it shows that the most deadly mysteries often begin at home.

Non-Fiction

In The Children of Lovers: A Memoir of William Golding by his Daughter (Faber) Judy Carver seeks to document warmth and fun of her father, but also the painful side to her upbringing. as her difficult, brilliant, conflicted father changed from a poor schoolteacher to a Nobel prize-winning novelist.

Claire Tomalin follows up her bestselling The Invisible Woman (a biography of Dickens’ mistress Nelly Ternan) with a full life of Dickens himself (Penguin), examining the paradoxes of his life: from how he deserted his wife yet wrote sentimentally about the family, to how he selflessly supported the poor, yet cut off some of his own relatives.

The ‘biographer of London’, Peter Ackroyd returns with London Under (Chatto & Windus) in which he explores the fascinating and surprising history of subterranean London.

Collected Essays by Hanif Kureishi (Faber) – a companion volume to 2010’s Collected Stories, which showcases Kureishi’s remarkable scope and his talent for capturing the modern spirit.

Acclaimed historian Simon Sebag Montefiore turns his attention on the Middle East with Jerusalem: The Biography of a City (Weidenfeld), in which he explores how this small, remote town become the Holy City, the ‘centre of the world’ and now the key to peace in the region. This is sure to be a landmark book on the subject.

Paul Theroux celebrates fifty years of wandering the globe by collecting the best writing on travel from the books that shaped him, as a reader and a traveler in The Tao of Trave (Hamish Hamilton)l. Excerpts from Theroux’s own work sit alongside Vladimir Nabokov, Henry David Thoreau, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway and others.

In How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism (Little, Brown), distinguished historian Eric Hobsbawm investigates its influences and analyses the spectacular reversal of Marxism’s fortunes over the past thirty years.

One of the most lyrical travel writers of today, Colin Thubron, returns to the far east, trekking through Nepal and into Tibet to Mount Kailas, the most sacred of the world’s mountains. In To A Mountain in Tibet (Chatto & Windus), Thubron joins the many pilgrims to this mountain, and shares their stories.

In Bird Cloud: A Memoir (4th Estate) Annie Proulx invites us to share her experience in the building of her new home on a rich plot of unspoilt prairie, and her pleasure in uncovering of the layers of American history locked beneath the topsoil of Bird Cloud – the name she gave to 640 acres of Wyoming wetlands and prairie.

Highly acclaimed science writer James Gleick gives us an account of our journey from the invention of language and scripts to the internet and tweeting, as well as what it all might lead to  in The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood (Fourth Estate).

Does one planet really matter among the immensity of the Cosmos? John Gribbin is here to persuade us that it does. In this ground-breaking and provocative new book The Reason Why: Snowball Earth and Intelligent Life Gribbin argues that we owe our existence to the impact of a ‘supercomet’ with Venus 600 million years ago.