Book Recommendation: Laurie Colwin Really is So Good

I was stuck on ferries and buses and the SkyTrain today, coming back from a few days with my parents, and decided on a whim to re-read Laurie Colwin’s Happy All The Time (apparently The Crying of Lot 49 and To A Mountain in Tibet–the books I’d meant to read–were not quite doing it for me). I have a crush on someone, and my current emotional state is “it probably won’t work out, but at least I’ve discovered I’m not actually dead inside,” and Happy All the Time suits that perfectly.

I first read this a few months ago, and it totally holds up on a second go-around. It’s a wonderful romantic satire; it really is just so much fun to watch two men face their confusion and helplessness when confronted by two women who are truly individuals, and not merely “women.” Colwin’s wit is so sharp, and yet so warm. There is a great heart, and a great optimism, to this book that is totally at odds with the current socio-political mood, and yet it remains utterly beguiling.

Also, Happy All the Time is one of the few e-books I own (I really do prefer paper, but the iPad comes in handy now and again), and at the end, it has a fun little biographical section with photographs.

How perfect is this sullen teenager look that Miss Colwin is rocking? Of course you’d be utterly scornful of your mom seeing you off on your tour to Europe while your dad snaps photos like a freakin’ dork.

Home Cooking is marvellous, too, and now I need to read everything Laurie Colwin has ever written.

Vacation Reading

So, apparently I’m going on a trip next week! I still can’t quite believe it’s real… although you’d think all the hours I spent scouring the internet for the perfect resort (and the hour I spent at Swimco pouring myself in bathing suits) would maybe have proved it to me. The trip is a birthday present from my unbelievably generous parents, and I am just so grateful to them. They left the choice of destination up to me, and while a trip to an all-inclusive isn’t normally my thing, once my mom suggested it, I decided to embrace the luxury. This is my chance to enjoy something I’d never pay for myself. On Monday, I head off to the Dominican Republic for a whole week at the Excellence El Carmen resort in Punta Cana!

Here’s what I’m going to read while I’m away… books

The Hothouse by the East River by Muriel Spark. Selected because Muriel Spark, and because it sounds creepy and fun. Plus it’s a nice slim volume for slipping into my bag.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I haven’t read enough Woolf, and that’s something worth fixing.

Fonzie, Fonzie Superstar by William Johnston. My friend Meg sent this to me for my birthday. If nothing else the cover is 10/10, and I’m sure it’ll be a fun read when it’s too hot to think.

The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux. I like Theroux. I like trains. Picking this one up at Pulp Fiction was a no-brainer.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. I did consider getting Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me but decided that I didn’t need to die of a poolside rage stroke. This Field Guide seems like a more appropriate vacation selection.

I want to dig into all of these right now, of course! But first there’s laundry, and tidying, and packing…

Link 33: On Thomas Pynchon (with bonus Bling Ring and Elena Ferrante)

The recent uproar around the identity of Elena Ferrante reminded me of this 1996 Nancy Jo Sales* piece on finding Thomas Pynchon. Such a difference in treatment: even when Sales (rightly) points out how terrible Vineland is, there is still so much respect for Pynchon, his work, and his privacy. Although I do think there is space for journalist inquiry alongside philosophical and literary questions of authorship, authority, and anonymity, Claudio Gatti’s approach was invasive and misogynist. Katherine Angel lays out a good argument for that here: “The crime that Ferrante has committed, in Gatti’s eyes, is that of witholding the signs by which he might read her as a “woman writer”.”

But do go read that Pynchon piece (and wish you could be friends with him–he just sounds so nice).

*of Bling Ring fame