I’ve been reading about a book a day. Gulping books. Inhaling them. Reading until my hands hurt from holding the books, until my eyes are grainy. A few I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order:
The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler, which had such a non-descript cover on the original that
I just didn’t know why I’d read it. An ARC with the new cover showed up on my doorstep and I put it on my desk to read next. Shallow of me, I’m sure, to judge a book by its cover, but there it is. I’m human. And I now apologize, because this book is a delight–many of the conventions of group stories, following divorces and love affairs and deaths and dogs, and of course, Austen. It is elevated by Fowler’s bold tenderness for reading and readers, why we read and how seriously we take it, and how much pleasure we derive from it, and how silly it is to be snobby.
Local Girls, by Alice Hoffman, who is always one of my favorites. She has never written a book I didn’t love madly. And it’s all here in this loosely connected group of stories about Gretel Samuelson and her friends and family in a suburban neighborhood on Long Island–Hoffman’s silvery magic, the lure of our longings, the darkness of lost lives and wrong turns balanced with the promise that magic and faith are–eventually–rewarded, that karma does out (even if it is in the form of a ghostly grandmother taking revenge on a cheating man by pouring butter into his food), and there is something powerful in moonlight.
The Great Man by Kate Christensen is a witty, earthy, fast-paced novel about the women who loved a
famous painter in mid-century Manhattan. The pleasure in this novel, for me, was in the great richness of these women’s lives, all of them past 70–still juicy, still ripe with surprises and friendships at an age when women (and men) are mostly invisible in fiction. I’ve not read Christensen before, but now I think I must go find some backlist. Her use of the language is playful, rich, and never self-conscious.
The only trouble is, I’ve now peeled through the pile I’d stacked up for plane reading. So what’s a reader to do? I guess I’ll have to just go buy more books! I have lots on my list, but of course, I’m always open to suggestions, too.