When the days are that bit longer and the weather allows for spending lots of time outside, there seem to be more hours in the day for books. Here’s some of what I’ve been reading recently and what I plan to read this summer:
The Recovering by Leslie Jamison: After studying with Leslie during the final semester of my MFA at Columbia, I couldn’t wait to read her recent book and it did not disappoint. More than anything what struck me was the precise writing, how each sentence and paragraph were whittled down until they were just right. I moved through it slowly as I found myself reading paragraphs and pages several times over (for their beauty and for the masterful writing).
What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell: Once I finished reading Garth Greenwell’s short story “The Frog King” in the New Yorker, I knew I had to read his novel. It is clear that each word of each sentence is of supreme importance to this writer; no single paragraph is wasted space. Greenwell captures all the messy nuances of interactions between people with a sharp eye and poetic touch. I did not want this novel to end.
Country Girl by Edna O’Brien: Now in her 80s, the Irish novelist Edna O’Brien details the fascinating story of her personal and literary life in this memoir. She moves seamlessly between her childhood in the Irish countryside, the difficulties of trying to build a writing career as a young woman and mother, and the glamorous parties of literary figures in London and New York. Beyond subject matter, it’s the sharp and understated sentences that drew me in page after page.
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe: Friends have raved about this book (subtitle: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland) that explores a 1972 murder during the Troubles in Belfast.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante: My book club will travel to Naples this summer via the first book of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. I read another novel of hers during grad school and was immediately drawn in by her writing style. It will be coming with me to the beach this summer.