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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Beach Bummin’

Posted by on June 29 at 12:55 PM

I’m headed to the seaside for the weekend. Can you suggest a trashy/smart/funny (but no “chick lit”) beach book or two? Doesn’t need to be a recent release; I’m all about the library.

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If you've never read Kathleen Winsor's Forever Amber, that'd make a great beach read. Banned in 40 cities when first published - that was the original draw for me. But it's also the book that got me interested in history; Winsor's bibliography consisted of more than 600 books. It doesn't pretend to be anything more than a novel, but the history in it is all accurate, and actually far more fascinating than the ostensible "main" story.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

Wilton Barnhardt, "Show World." Well-written but still a good vacation read.

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem.

"Kindred" by Octavia Butler.

It's not really a "beach novel" but I have to throw in a recommendation for The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver, simply because it was so so moving and wonderful. I must have cried through the last quarter of the book . . . :-) I'm such a mushball.

middlesex by jeffery eugenides

or the perks of being a wallflower, i forget the author

or freakonomics. its very interesting.

middlesex was lovely. almost poetic.

motherless brooklyn was not and quite painful.

maybe cheese monkeys by chip kidd?


Light fluffy and trashy for the beach. Not great literature, but classier than a harlequin romance.

Apathy and Other Small Victories. Funny.

Youth in Revolt by CD Payne. I reread this last summer - it makes me laugh hard enough to cry. Plus it's long enough to satisfy multiple trips to the beach.

My obsession with French whores has bled in to my summer reading. Zola's "Nana" is really wonderful.

I loved Freakonomics and recommend it to everyone. It altered several ways in which I look at the world. Thanks for the ideas, ya'll.

I recently enjoyed Extremely Pale Rosé by Jamie Ivey. He and his wife and drunken buddy drive around France looking for the palest rosé they can find, to win a bet. A bit Year in Provence-ish, but not bad, and not wine-geeky at all. He's a Brit, which means he is vaguely familiar with the English language.

Or the new John McPhee -- McPhee can make ANYTHING interesting, and his stuff goes down like water. Even if you've read the stuff already in the New Yorker, it's more cohesive in a book.

Or try Reflexions by Richard Olney. Olney was a pioneer cooking writer, but this book is a memoir. Lots of food -- he can remember every detail of meals he cooked forty years ago -- but lots too of gay sex, literary heroes (James Baldwin, etc.), travels in France, living in France, yadda yadda. Great fun, and kinky too. W H Auden propositions him in a cafe by asking if he can lick jam off his cock -- he had the jam in his pocket in little jars.

Fnarf, it always seems to come back to cock with you...

Even if you've read it before - High Fidelity

Michelle Tea's work. Memoirs that read like novels (I'd vote for Valencia), a graphic memoir that's essentially an intelligent and gritty picture book for adults (Rent Girl), or even an actual novel (Rose of No Man's Land).

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