This summer I’m reading Jack Gilbert’s Refusing Heaven. The poetry sounds pretty much like it has since Views of Jeopardy in 1962. Still, Gilbert charms with his insistent precision, his tragic grace, like Giorgio Morandi painting pictures of bottles, over and over in a bare room, trying to get it right.
I recently picked up Mary McCarthy’s A Bolt from the Blue. Her midcentury essays, unsurpassed in their piercing observations, offer a remarkable view into New York literary culture.
Although it’s not Twain’s best work, I’m having a ball revisiting Pudd’nhead Wilson for its savagery and sheer ridiculousness.
My between-times book—the one I turn to in waiting rooms or on the bus—is Harvey Levenstein’s Fear of Food, a new history of “why we worry about what we eat.” Levenstein offers tales of bad science, venal politics, and powerful food manufacturers in the early twentieth century.
Finally, as an antidote to the oppressiveness of late summer, I’m devouring British author Penelope Fitzgerald’s Three Novels. Her lightness and lucidity—ah. . . !
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