For a bookshop, Auckland’s Strange Goods has a name entirely befitting of its purpose; it serves as a wellspring of unusual, surprising and, at times, radically different independent art books and self-published titles. Here, its founder Samuel Walsh shares these five works that are currently on his shelves.
by Steve Carr, University of Canterbury Harkness Grant, $30
I judged this book from artist Steve Carr by its cover but it easily breaks the age-old adage. Born from the short film of the same name, Watermelon traces the first test of a video work in which rubber bands are placed around the centre of a watermelon. For the book, images of the test subject are coupled with a transcription of the artist and his assistant, Aaron Kreisler, offering a hilarious-yet-insightful perspective on an artist’s process during the 32 minutes it takes for the watermelon to split under the tension. My favourite thing about this book is that it, too, comes wrapped in a rubber band.
by Tayi Tibble, Victoria University Press, $20
A friend recommended Poūkahangatus to me earlier this year and now I feel a deep sense of obligation to repay that kindness by sharing it with everyone else. The way Tayi Tibble weaves together themes of colonialism, sexuality and politics with pop culture and a childhood spent in Aotearoa makes Poūkahangatus digestible for those who might find poetry intimidating or boring while, at the same time, always managing to leave your stomach in knots. It just won an Ockham Book Award for a debut work, which, in my opinion, is incredibly deserved and means you don’t have to take just my word for it.
by Gemma Walsh and Katie Kerr, Gloria Books, $35
This is a slightly nepotistic choice but it’s hard to deny Dirt’s loveliness. Described as “an experimental cookbook that digs into the relationship between food and words”, Dirt pairs 12 vegetarian recipes with 12 writers, who, after sharing a meal with the chef, respond via a piece of writing. I like that everyone’s experience is different and that diverse themes and mediums come from each. It’s a great starting point if you want an introduction to an eclectic group of local writers and vegetarian cooking: like eavesdropping on a dinner party where the host is a professional chef, all the guests are open and interesting, and the conversation carries on late into the night.
edited by Kelvin Soh, DDMMYY, $30
Glossy, tactile and full of promise, some magazines remind me of being a dorky teenager: perusing shelves, desperate to learn more about my favourite punk bands or celebrity crushes. Edited by Auckland design icon Kelvin Soh and published by his DDMMYY imprint, Le Roy “occupies a space somewhere between a journal, zine and curated group exhibition,” to borrow the words from Motto Distribution. It reignites those nostalgic tendencies.
by Amelia Harris, Index, $15
“They had long run out of stories and confessions, they could only hum, so they hummed in the dark… was it currents guiding them? Or other strange forces? Like friendship.” Some Eels, by artist and writer Amelia Harris, follows three eels who are heading upstream on an adventure. The book – a whimsical, endearing and considered risograph printed in three colours and limited to a run of only 200 copies – is about friendship, and one you could easily gift to a three- or a 33-year-old. It proves that, sometimes, the simplest of stories are the ones most worth telling.
This article first appeared in Novelnyt magazine. Subscribe here