August is a month for reading. It is not a month for tasting wine. When the weather is hot and humid the last thing I want to think about is wine, the consumption of which will only make me hotter and damper.
I have spent the month reading, as I have every summer since the age of eight, when, after being burnt to a red and painful crispiness by the Kansas sun, I retired to the shade with a tall glass of ice tea and a stack of novels.
First, some links to my novel- writing friends.
Simon Mawer (www.simonmawer.com) The Girl Who Fell From The Sky (UK title) Trapeze (the US title) The Daily Mail has described it as “…utterly gripping from start to finish.” A couple of Simon’s books have been short-listed for the Booker prize. He is a witty and charming fellow.
Russell Atwood, thriller writer and producer of Ghost Story extravaganzas in New York. I have known him since he was 12 and I was…hummm…I must have been 24. It was friendship at first conversation. I never thought of Russell as a child. After all these years I still feel the same pleasure in his company. His first novel was East of A. Find descriptions of his books at: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1096112.Russell_Atwood
Michelle Lovric writes historical fiction set in Venice. The curtains in her Venice house match the color of the water on the Grand Canal….ooooo. She writes for adults and also has a series of books for intelligent children. Her site: www.michellelovric.com
Lyndsay Faye has written two well-reviewed historical thrillers. I hope she gets a movie option. She and I are both Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes and Baker Street Irregulars. When we first me she said: “Oh, you’re one of the old ASH.” I had to blink twice to contain myself….ASH are NEVER old no matter what their age. Her first novel was Gods of Gotham. www.lyndsayfaye.com
Tamora Pierce writes award winning fantasy books for Young Adults that feature strong female characters. I met her 30 years ago when we both lived in NYC. She really is a born story teller. Her website: www.tamora-pierce.com
I am dying for a John Updike fix….his descriptions are luscious. I first read him when I was 16 years old: The Centaur, followed by Rabbit Run, the story of a high school success who never quite lived up to his promise. Hummmm. I shall have to find a copy of that somewhere. The only unpacked Updike is The Widows of Eastwick. When I am finished reading it I wish I had not packed my other Updikes. (I am packing up my books in preparation for a move to a new apartment.)
I reread Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business, a book I loved 30 years ago and still love today. John Fowles’s called it a “minor masterpiece”. I have never understood what a “minor” masterpiece is…its rather like being a little bit pregnant. You either are or are not. Same with books. They are masterpieces or they are not. For me this book is. It doesn’t have the luscious prose style that often seduces me but it is elegantly written, witty and offers intriguing ideas.
I reread The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives by Sebastian Faulks. It makes me want to read a novel by Faulks. I reread You’ll Never Eat Lunch in the Town Again by Julia Phillips, a fat book filled with ancient gossip about films like Close Encounters, The Sting and Taxi Driver. Among the other authors who slip through my hands during these summer days are Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, Peter Devries, Nabokov and a stack of thriller writers. I wish I still had copies of books by Mordecai Richler, Evan Connell and Walker Percy.
Saturday: A lady from the USA who is writing a book on how to raise “international” children rings to interview me. I don’t have children but as I have lived in 4 countries and understand how to cope so she deems me a worthy subject for her study.
Anadi Athaley, the indian film director i met at the San Gio Video Festival, sends me a link to an Indian song. When I hear it, I leap up and start dancing. Even Michael comes in and gets jiggy with it. Anadi says: “It is by my favorite composer right now, Senha Khanwilkar. She specializes in fusing Indian folk songs, with subtle percussion and sometimes, almost western instruments. [The song is…] playful and is to be taken in a ‘drunk’ spirit. But I love the rawness with which the Indian folk has been captured here.”
1 August dinner at the architects
During the babble of conversation I hear the name Richard Rodgers and think: I know him, he wrote Oklahoma! Wrong: this Richard Rogers is an architect. A few minutes later the name Peter Cook crops up. I think: I love Peter Cook, especially some of his comedy routines with Dudley Moore. Wrong: This Peter Cook is also an architect. I look around the room and realize that the guests can be divided between those who think of musicals and comedy and those consumed by architects.