The first book of 2013 made me jump through many hoops but I’m glad to have finished it. I believe there are books canonical to the whole genre even though it might not be for every reader. Henry James falls into this category, and so does Toni Morrison. So, the completion of the hefty Angle of Repose is what I consider an accomplishment tantamount to reading , say, The Inferno.
Two days before my departure to Asia and I have finalized the reading list for the trip. Two non-fiction titles I have included to lighten up the experience. They are both travel-related: Cruising Altitude by Heather Poole and Ask the Pilot by Patrick Smith. The secondary title of the first one makes it very irresistible, although I hope I won’t be hemmed in by crazy passengers Poole depicts in it. The claims airline passengers make about flights are often embellished. During turbulence, for example, passengers may think a plane is dropping hundreds of feet, when it’s never typically more than 20. Airline pilot Patrick Smith, writes the Ask The Pilot column for Salon.com. He sets the record straight on common air travel myths. The latter is a compilation of these stories.
In the literary department, I pick authors whose books I have enjoyed. Both James Salter and William Maxwell are consummate storytellers. Their manners are precise and elegant. The Chateau Harold and Barbara Rhodes of New York as they visit France in 1948. Maxwell does not make the Rhodes’ jump through any dramatic hoops, choosing instead to show them coping with the difficulties of new social relationships. The Rhodes’ arrive in a France that is still just recovering from the war. They begin their four month trip with an extended stay at a small chateau in the Loire Valley. The chateau, owned by Mlle. Vienot, is run as a guesthouse, and Harold and Barbara soon find themselves in a series of new friendships and awkward social entanglements with Vienot’s guests and relatives. An article in Paris Review decided that I will read Light Years. The article shows Salter’s outline of the novel. I note how Salter is careful to think of the seasons as he moves through the chapters.
Currently I’m reading my first John Updike book, The Witches of Eastwick. It’s a mixture of humor, keen observations and prose. I shall see if I’ll wrap it up before hopping on the plane on Wednesday. Itinerary is rather busy: San Francisco — Los Angeles (AA) — Tokyo Narita (AA) — Bangkok (JL) — Singapore (CX) — Hong Kong (CX) — San Francisco (CX). The leap over the Pacific to Japan will take 12 hours, making it perfect to get couped up with a book (and a glass of wine?) The hammock awaits in Thailand so that would be another reading haven.