Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Reading

Being laid up for a couple of weeks with an injured back has had its advantages, mainly the chance to read for hours on end. Happily, I had just ordered a pile of books from Amazon and they've been steadily trickling in. Here are a few of my favorites.

"No Place for a Puritan" is an anthology of desert writing, both poetry and prose. There are heavy hitters like John Steinbeck and Sylvia Plath (!), the usual suspects like Mary Austin and Edward Abbey, and a host of others you've never heard of but will be glad you did. Editor Ruth Nolan has done a superb job of bringing together diverse voices. I devoured this book!

Last night I actually made it to an author reading at the Red Arrow Gallery that featured Ruth Nolan along with Deanne Stillman, author of "Joshua Tree: Desolation Tango" as well as a definitive book on wild mustangs and an expose about a 1991 murder in 29 Palms. Another desert writer worth checking out.

For pure escapism, I've been reveling in M.F.K. Fisher's "As They Were." This book contains my favorite story of hers, "I Was Really Very Hungry." She writes exquisitely about food and the intricacies of human nature. I also replaced my lost copy of "Invisible Cities," a classic by Italo Calvino that features Marco Polo weaving tales to Kublai Khan about the magical cities of his vast empire.

On the poetry side of things, I've been immersed in "Nine Gates," essays about poetry by Jane Hirschfield that mainly come from a spiritual perspective. Her anthology "Women in Praise of the Sacred" has some captivating work by obscure poetesses. "If Not, Winter," contains evocative translations of Sappho by Canadian poet Anne Carson.

I can't wait to get into this one, "Memory Wall" by Anthony Doerr. He is a master of the short story and his previous collection, "The Shell Collector," has what to me is an unforgettable story, "The Hunter's Wife."

If you're reading something you especially like this summer, please post a comment or send me an email--I'd love to hear from you!