I've pulled together a short stack of summer reading (except for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is on hold at the library).
There's one spy book, set just before World War II — by the wonderful Alan Furst. It's called The Foreign Correspondent. There's a lot of fog and cigarette smoke in his novels. Mysterious women and men with interesting jobs. Sex. In Paris. The men are newspapermen, or film makers. Did I mention that the women are mysterious? I could stop reading entirely after this book, and spend the rest of the summer recreating its mood by installing a fog machine, wearing sunglasses at night and calling everyone I know dahling.
And yet, we all know the fog lifts, and we take off our sunglasses and we realize that the foreign correspondent isn't quite everything we thought. And when that happens, you need chocolate. Maida Heatter is an expert in the area of dessert and her Book of Great Chocolate Desserts is a classic. What she does not know about chocolate desserts need not concern us. And Anne Tyler will set you straight about how the heart works, if the chocolate hasn't already, in Digging to America.
The book on the bottom of the stack, which I plan to read as the summer ends, because it is not really a book for the summer, is by Irene Nemirovsky, a French writer who was deported to Auschwitz and died there, shortly after writing what may turn out to be one of the best pieces of fiction to come out of the Second World War. It's called Suite Francaise and has just been published here in the United States.
Those two boxes? They're several of the rescued recipe boxes I've been buying on eBay. You'll be hearing about those this summer. One common thread is that for a long time, and even now, American women lavished an incredible amount of attention on dessert.
That, and the Hitchhiker's Guide, and all of your emails, blogs, poems and stories, will accompany me through what looks like a rich and eye-opening summer. I know what litlove is reading, thanks to her terrific essays about reading American classics for the first time. I'd be interested to hear what's on everyone else's list, if you have a moment to tell us.