Summer Reading

Most people read more in the summer. I tend to read less. Not sure why. I think writing everyday on my own work makes me less inclined to lose myself in other stories. Reading can be an escape for me- an escape from my own writing. Me writing more equals me reading less voraciously and perhaps desperately. Anyway, here’s a brief summary of my brief summer reading.

“Self Storage”
a novel by Gayle Brandeis
I celebrate myself. Sorry, I just can’t do it.

I always thought there’d be some good stories behind the whole self storage movement that now dots most of our cities and towns across the country. How could there not be? Whenever I drive past those units I wonder what the hell is in there? And why do people keep whatever it is? And what happens to it if people don’t pay or move away and forget about it or die and it is left there? Well, Flan Parker has created a thriving business out of just such units. One day she bids on a unit and winds it only to discover a note with the word “yes.” This sets her on a journey to unearth the “yes” in her life.

“Too Much Happiness”
stories by Alice Munro
Doree had to take three buses– one to Kincardine, where she waited for the one to London, where she waited again for the city bus out to the facility.

I will spare you my usual Munro-gushing. Consider it pretty much a given whenever I read her. There’s a reason she’s considered a master of the short story form and this collection doesn’t detract from that assessment. A couple of the stories still haunt me.

“Loose Girl- a memoir of promiscuity”
by Kerry Cohen
In the darkness, he touches me, his long, strong fingers moving across the surface of my skin, his breath hot and real near my ear.

This is less a story about sex and more about a girl’s desperate need to be seen. To be validated. As the back of the book says, we all were that girl, knew that girl or wondered who she was.

“Mentor” a memoir by Tom Grimes
I was living in Key West and working as a waiter the first time I saw Frank Conroy.

This book had me mesmerized throughout our vacation. It’s not only an account of one writer’s life but also his relationship with Frank Conroy who was first his teacher, then mentor then friend. It’s a book I will read again, this time with pen in hand.

“The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” a novel by Aimee Bender
It happened for the first time on a Tuesday afternoon, a warm spring day in the flatlands near Hollywood, a light breeze moving east from the ocean and stirring the black-eyed pansy petals newly planted in our flower boxes.

Bender takes the surreal ability to be able to taste emotions in food and makes it seem utterly real. Nine-year-old Rose Edelstein discovers this supposed gift and suddenly eating becomes a mine-field. She finds an unlikely confidante in the friend of her older brother. This novel is sweet, sad, bitter and filled with characters who linger long after the last page.