I'm not pimping American Airlines here, but it's sort of symbolic of all of the traveling Larry's doing next month (and the next) that gives me loads of free time to read. I'm still planning on getting through more of Patricia Highsmith's work, plus I have some new and vintage crime novels that are calling to me, and finally, I've set myself a goal of reading at least two Booker Prize-nominated books.
Serious reading has pretty much escaped me this summer: It's definitely tough to read novels I have to think about when my brain is really focused here, but I did my best considering the constant pull toward the pool.
No serious reading allowed while in my patio, but I did manage to get through a few good books.
In the nonfiction zone, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham, by Emily Bingham. Sometimes it's fun to just pick up a biography of someone I've never heard of before and see what shakes out. This one I can highly recommend.
Turning to crime, the fourth book in David Mark's ongoing McAvoy series (Taking Pity) had me turning pages late into the night. Then it was Highsmith's turn with her The Blunderer , which had a terrific but wholly unexpected ending. Ayee! Moving forward into the modern world, Jan Costin Wagner's The Winter of the Lions brought me back to Scandinavia again with "snow-noir" (??). How far is this labeling everything as some sort noir going to go? Lillian Jackson Braun -- does she write kitty-noir? And finally, the crime reads ended with another vintage read in my quest to discover and read the works of obscure crime-writing women, Murder in the Mist by Zelda Popkin. If you're thinking "who the hell is Zelda Popkin," well, you aren't alone. I will say that of all of the crime novels I got through in July, I actually enjoyed her book (from 1940) the most. Oh wait! One more -- the only Barbara Vine novel I've ever disliked, No Night is too Long. This isn't the same Barbara Vine who wrote A Dark-Adapted Eye, that's for sure. I'll post about it soon.
Some of my favorite reading this month came from the creepier side, with The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (ed. Robert Aickman), Kwaidan: Ghost Stories and Strange Tales of Old Japan, by Lafcadio Hearn, and Ellen Datlow's forthcoming anthology (which I haven't posted about yet but will here shortly), The Monstrous. With apologies to Tachyon, it's been a choppy, choppy July so I had to grab time as I can find it.
Last, but by no means least comes the literature reads. After impatiently waiting years for it to be published, I devoured Amitav Ghosh's Flood of Fire, which as I noted earlier is the perfect ending to Ghosh's perfect Ibis trilogy. Once again, I had to buy my copy from the UK (it doesn't come out here for nearly another week). If you're into historical fiction that goes way beyond the Phillipa Gregory level (I'm sorry -- I just can't take her writing seriously after reading The Other Boleyn Girl -- which I absolutely hated), and you want something intelligently written that goes well beyond the norm, start with Sea of Poppies and make your way through all three books. Those 600+ pages will fly by. The only other literary novel I finished was Highsmith's The Price of Salt, another that's sitting on the to-be-posted-about stack next to my desk. I loved the book -- if they screw up the movie I'll be devastated. It's so good.
--- the other stuff
- the book group is on a well-deserved hiatus until the end of September. It's too hard to be serious in the summer anyway.
- Books bought definitely exceeded books leaving the house. And there are more on order.
- currently reading: The Confidence-Man, by Herman Melville. Currently I'm just rounding page 50 but so far, I'm really liking this one. I've also started Highsmith's Deep Water, and I'm planning on reading a book about Italy's Berlusconi, Being Berlusconi, by Michael Day.
For me a good, easy month -- I suppose getting serious can wait until the fall.