Sunday, July 11, 2010

Beach Reads

I spent the weekend with friends on Fire Island in the little town of Kismet. It rained on Saturday, but today was sunny and gorgeous. One of my favorite things about the beach is that no matter the weather, it's always a perfect reading day. Yesterday I read curled up on the couch, listening to the rain falling outside. Today we sat together and read our books under umbrellas, venturing into the rough waves when we got too hot.

I took a little informal survey of who was reading what. Therese brought a couple of books with her, and had trouble settling on one. She started with Couples by John Updike, but decided on Saturday evening that she was annoyed with Updike's sex scenes and his frequent use of the word "flanks" for a woman's bottom. I lent her my new copy of The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, and she liked it at first, but said she wasn't in the mood for a fairy tale. She ultimately decided to fall back on her favorite writer as of late, David Foster Wallace, and read his collection of short stories, Girl With Curious Hair. Before the weekend, she had finished The Possessed by Elif Batuman, which she loved, and left it at the beach house for someone else to read.

Meanwhile, Marcia (pictured, center) was also reading David Foster Wallace, but had chosen his masterwork Infinite Jest. Always one to be in vogue and up with the latest trends, the last time I saw Marcia at the beach she was reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, and this weekend we discussed the trilogy, and how we felt about Lisbeth as a character. Everywhere I turn at the beach, someone is reading one of the books in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy.

Matt had finished Let the Great World Spin, and was on to Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, which he had borrowed from Joe. Christy (pictured, left) was reading The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Nabokov and Katie (pictured, right) was reading Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

I had brought a couple of books with me, but settled mostly on The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake because my friend Jana who works for Berlin Verlag told me that she loved it and that her colleague has just bought the German translation rights. Cat, who was also at the beach, told me that she took a writing class from the author, Aimee Bender, at USC and couldn't wait to read it. Other beach books I have on deck are C by Tom McCarthy, Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, my August book for review You Lost Me There by Rosecrans Baldwin. I think short story collections are often the best format for the beach, and so I have been bringing Birds of America to the beach as a back-up in case I feel too distracted with volleyball games and seashell collecting.

What books are you bringing to the beach?

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