Yes, I am still reading. A few quick notes on some of the books:
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler
If there is an opposite to chick lit, this is it. A story about men, boys, Boy Scouts, coming of age, growing old – all men, but focused on a few – Wilbur, the Scout Master, who saves Nelson, the upright nerd, and Jonathan, an older boy who wavers between being the cool dude he wants to be and the righteous man of goodwill he tries not to be. A good story across generations with friendship among men as the angle. And the author has the hallowed credential of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
So – is Ingrid, the mother, still alive? Did she find the courage to swim away from her philandering husband who betrayed her with her best friend? Did she leave the old coot English professor who used her secret fantasies to finally write his best seller? Did she start a new life or end a desperate one? You decide.
Classics I Finally Got Around to:
Remembering Laughter by Wallace Stegner
Reading Wallace Stegner’s first novel – Remembering Laughter – reminded me of how great an author he is. The poignant story of two women continuing to live together after the younger one has an affair and gets pregnant with her sister’s husband. Though short, the story had the same impact on me as his famous Crossing to Safety. If you have never read Stegner, this is a good place to start. If you know him, the reissue of his first book is a gift.
Genius and Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe
In the movie “Genius” with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, the editor Maxwell Perkins gleans the best from Thomas Wolfe’s manuscripts to produce the first two of his lengthy novels. Jude Law plays the writer, Thomas Wolfe, but his contemporaries are just as fascinating – a clever F. Scott Fitzgerald moping over his wife’s debilitating depression and his subsequent inability to write, and Ernest Hemingway, gloriously manly as he is about to go off to war. Maxwell Perkins was editor to them all. I had read Ftizgerald and Hemingway, but never Thomas Wolfe and Perkins was a stranger to me. Inspired by the movie, I am reading Look Homeward Angel with a long introduction by Maxwell Perkins. Only ten pages into the 508 of the story, I am convinced Wolfe is the genius portrayed.
Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell
Poor Mrs. Bridge – she lived in her insular world, not knowing or caring to know what happened around her. Republished in paperback to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, Connell’s depiction of a privileged white woman in the nineteen thirties has notes of women in the fifties, but sadly, her plight could be applied to some women today. Written in short paragraphs and chapters, Mrs. Bridge slowly evolves but never really grows. Pathetic in her ignorance, she protects herself from the world, sometimes wondering about issues she is never curious enough to pursue – lest they disturb her bubble. Of course she is sad and unfulfilled, yet she never realizes she could do something about her life – why would she?
The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes
Follow Your Heart by Susanna Tamaro