what i read on my summer vacation

Geoffrey Moorehouse: The Fearful Void - An extremely unlikable man who complains about everything tries to cross the Sahara. He's not prepared - minor disasters ensue. Lots of dead camels, giant blisters filled with sand, charred raw meat and dysentery.

J.R. Ackerly: Hindoo Holiday - The dry, witty and unsparing memoirs of a British secretary to an Indian prince in the days of the British Raj. Excellent company.

Lucie Duff Gordon: Letters From Egypt - Obscure, with mild rewards.

Joan Didion: Play It As It Lays - Instead of a book turned into a movie, this felt like a movie turned into a book. Depictions of depictions of ideas of a reality. All surface, hollow core.

Antoine St. Exupéry: Airman's Odyssey - Ecstatic and strange. I read a lot, and more than many other things I have read, reading this felt like a window into a singular and extinct mind, a way of thinking and seeing the world that won't come again.

Deborah Harkness: A Discovery of Witches - Twilight given a Masterpiece Theater veneer. Not fun enough.

Gary Shteyngart: Absurdistan - I wanted to like this more than I did. Frantic and saddening and smaller than I hoped.

Tea Obreht: The Tiger's Wife - Startlingly good in places, but too fearfully and exactly constructed. I felt smothered by all the neatly tied threads.

Paul Bowles: The Delicate Prey, Their Heads Were Green and Their Hands Were Blue, A Hundred Camels in the Courtyard, The Time of Friendship, Things Gone and Things Still Here, Midnight Mass, Selected Later Stories, Up Above the World, The Sheltering Sky, Let It Come Down - Elegant, ruthless, precise and addictive. Once I started reading Bowles, everything else seemed fake, boring, weak and vapid. He sees the world through sharper lenses.

Paul Murray: Skippy Dies - Mapped with an uncanny precision to a particular constellation of my personal obsessions: Robert Graves, WWI, Druids, multiple universe theory, Ireland, boarding schools. Much enjoyed.

Franz Kafka: The Blue Octavo Notebooks - Like a collection of odd and beautiful pebbles. Will be reread.

Patricia Marx, Starting From Happy - Funnier in theory than in practice.

A.S. Byatt, Possession - High-waisted nerdy-pants brain candy.

Jean-Patrick Manchette, Fatale - Hilarious, gory and fast. Perfect to read while drinking.


Photo found here.