The Weak Spot
Lucie Elven£12.00 £11.40
On a remote mountaintop somewhere in Europe, accessed by an ancient funicular, a small pharmacy sits on a square. As if attending confession, the townspeople carry their ailments and worries through its doors, in search of healing, reassurance, and a witness to their bodies and the stories of their lives. One day, a young woman arrives in the town to apprentice under its charismatic pharmacist, August Malone. An outsider, she is lulled by the stories and secrets shared by both customers and colleagues, and slowly loses herself in this strange, beguiling, isolated community. As her new boss rises to the position of mayor, exploiting his intimate knowledge of those whose trust he gained, she realises that something sinister is going on around her. Ambiguous, compelling and bewitching, The Weak Spot is a fable about our longing for cures, answers and an audience, and the silent manipulations of those who hold power in our world.
Where The Wild Ladies Are
Aoko Matsuda£9.99 £9.49
Witty, inventive, and profound, Where the Wild Ladies Are is a contemporary feminist retelling of traditional ghost stories by one of Japan’s most exciting writers. In a company run by the mysterious Mr Tei, strange things are afoot – incense sticks lead to a surprise encounter; a young man reflects on his mother’s death; a foxlike woman finally finds her true calling. As female ghosts appear in unexpected guises, their gently humorous encounters with unsuspecting humans lead to deeper questions about emancipation and recent changes in Japanese women’s lives.
The Sad Part Was
Prabda Yoon£10.00 £9.50
In these witty, postmodern stories, Yoon riffs on pop culture, experiments with punctuation, flirts with sci-fi and, in a metafictional twist, mocks his own position as omnipotent author. Highly literary, his narratives offer an oblique reflection of contemporary Bangkok life, exploring the bewildering disjunct and oft-hilarious contradictions of a modernity that is at odds with many traditional Thai ideas on relationships, family, school and work.
John Keene£12.99 £12.34
Ranging from the seventeenth century to our current moment, and crossing multiple continents, Counternarratives' stories and novellas draw upon memoirs, newspaper accounts, detective stories, interrogation transcripts, and speculative fiction to create new and strange perspectives on our past and present. 'An Outtake' chronicles an escaped slave's take on liberty and the American Revolution; 'The Strange History of Our Lady of the Sorrows' presents a bizarre series of events that unfold in a nineteenth-century Kentucky convent; 'The Aeronauts' soars between bustling Philadelphia, still-rustic Washington, and the theatre of the US Civil War; 'Rivers' presents a free Jim meeting up decades later with his former raftmate Huckleberry Finn; and in 'Acrobatique', the subject of a famous Edgar Degas painting talks back.
Ann Quin£10.00 £9.50
`A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father . . .'So begins Ann Quin's madcap frolic with sinister undertones. Alistair Berg hears where his father, who has been absent from his life since his infancy, is living. Without revealing his identity, Berg takes a room next to the one where his father and father's mistress are lodging and he starts to plot his father's elimination. Seduction and violence follow, though not quite as Berg intends, with Quin lending the proceedings a delightful absurdist humour. Anarchic, heady, dark, Berg is Quin's masterpiece, a classic of post-war avant-garde British writing, and now finally back in print after much demand.
The Lime Tree
Cesar Aira£8.99 £8.54
Seeing double rows of elegant lime trees around the main square of his hometown of Colonel Pringles, our narrator - who could well be the author himself, although nothing is guaranteed in a book by Cesar Aira - suddenly recalls the Sunday mornings of his childhood, when his father would take him to gather the lime-flower blossoms from which he made tea. Beginning with his father, handsome and `black' and working-class, and his strikingly grotesque mother, the narrator quickly leaps from anecdote to anecdote, bringing to life his father's dream of upward mobility, the dashing of their family's hopes when the Peronist party fell from power, the single room they all shared, and his mother's litany of political rants, which were used - like the lime-flower tea - to keep his father calm. Aira's charming fictional memoir is a colourful mosaic of a small-town neighbourhood, a playful portrait of the artist as a child and an invitation to visit the source of Aira's own extraordinary imagination.
The Taiga Syndrome: Winner of the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award
Cristina Rivera Garza£6.99 £6.64
A fairy tale run amok, The Taiga Syndrome follows an unnamed Ex-Detective as she searches for a couple that has fled to the far reaches of the Earth. A betrayed husband is convinced by a brief telegram that his second ex-wife wants him to track her down - that she wants to be found. He hires the Ex-Detective, who sets out with a translator into a snowy, hostile forest where strange things happen and translation serves to betray both sense and the senses. The stories of Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood haunt the Ex-Detective's quest. As she enters a territory overrun with the primitive excesses of capitalism - accumulation and expulsion, corruption and cruelty -the lessons of her journey unfold: that sometimes leaving everything behind is the only thing left to do.
Somebody Loves You
Mona Arshi£11.99 £11.39
A teacher asked me a question, and I opened my mouth as a sort of formality but closed it softly, knowing with perfect certainty that nothing would ever come out again. Ruby gives up talking at a young age. Her mother isn't always there to notice; she comes and goes and goes and comes, until, one day, she doesn't. Silence becomes Ruby's refuge, sheltering her from the weather of her mother's mental illness and a pressurized suburban atmosphere. Plangent, deft, and sparkling with wry humour, Somebody Loves You is a moving exploration of how we choose or refuse to tell the stories that shape us.
Walter J. C. Murray£14.00 £13.30
Walter Murray was a young man tired of living in the city. Early in the 1920s, he persuaded a Sussex farmer to rent him a derelict cottage, which stood alone on a hill, with no running water or electricity. Most of the windows were broken, it was dirty, dark and ran with rats. He bought a brush and pail in the village, forced the rats to retreat, brought in rudimentary furniture. The local postman found him a dog, and with his new companion he began to explore his surroundings. In that year at Copsford he made a living from collecting, drying and selling the herbs he found locally: agrimony, meadow-sweet and yarrow. He became alert to the wildlife and plants around him. His life was hard - he supplemented his income with occasional journalism, but it was here he met his future wife, who he calls The Music Mistress, and with whom he would later found a school. Copsford is an extraordinary book. Bearing comparison to Thoreau's Walden, Murray's intense feeling for his place is evident on every page. It is, though, no simple story of a rural idyll - life at Copsford was hard, and Murray does not shy away from the occasional terrors of a house that had its hauntings. A publishing success when first published in the late 1940s, this new edition has an introduction by Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path.
In Pursuit of Spring
Edward Thomas£14.00 £13.30
In mid to late March 1913, as the storm clouds of the Great War which was to claim his life gathered, Edward Thomas took a bicycle ride from Clapham to the Quantock Hills. The poet recorded his journey through his beloved South Country and his account was published as In Pursuit of Spring in 1914. Regarded as one of his most important prose works, it stands as an elegy for a world now lost. What is less well-known is that Thomas took with him a camera, and photographed much of what he saw, noting the locations on the back of the prints. These have been kept in archives for many years and will now be published for the very first time in the book. Thomas journeys through Guildford, Winchester, Salisbury, across the Plain, to the Bristol Channel, recording the poet's thoughts and feelings as winter ends.