It's summertime and many of you are easing up on obligations, unwinding at the beach, and reading those books you never have time for. I wonder what you are reading...
Me. I'm staying close to home but trying to take advantage of the wonders of NYC: mostly jazz for me but also the easy pace of the city in the dog days of summer. As a break from writing, I take myself outside to the garden to weed. The weeds are loving the rain.
Last Sunday I heard a wonderful jazz vocalist and Grammy winner, Catherine Russell. This was at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in the Time Warner Building, small tables café style, giant glass window looking out onto the blaze of lights on 59th Street. I must get to Minton's club in Harlem before the summer ends.
Here are some books that have captivated me:
By Sally Koslow, Another Side of Paradise. F. Scott Fitzgerald's love affair with Hollywood gossip columnist Sheilah Graham. Hollywood 1930s. The story is told in Sheilah Graham's voice, beautifully re-imagined by the author. I learned some curious and essential things about Fitzgerald and the challenges to the famous who must live up to greatness. Sheilah is fascinating in her own right and has her own secrets.
Very different. Non-fiction. The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú, is a soulful book about the lives of migrants who try to cross and recross the Mexico-US border. The author is a second generation immigrant American who takes a job with the Border Patrol in New Mexico and later in West Texas. This is an intimate, exquisite book. It has opened up my own thinking. I am still discovering how.
I just finished the novel, Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday, and it is still settling in my head. There are two--what appear to be very different stories--in the book: a love relationship between a famous, older writer and a young woman, and the story of an Iraqi-American family, the isolation of one of it's members in a holding cell in Heathrow Airport. One reviewer said, rightly, that Halliday takes us "down rabbit holes to unknown places." I remain fascinated...
A little bit about Diego. I interviewed Diego some months ago. He's a storyboard illustrator, fleshes out stories created by advertising, movie, and television writers. He is LGBT and POC (gay and person of color). He talked to me about issues of identity, where he feels he fits and doesn't fit. Diego is un Puertorriqueño, lives in NYC, explained to me reasons--as he sees them--for the economic collapse and distress in Puerto Rico where his family still lives. I'll be publishing Diego's story in two parts. You'll see Soy/Somos:Diego in September, when we will all have a little more energy to ponder.
Enjoy the dog days of summer.