I decided to ease out of the summer with some light reading on this long weekend — first Honest Doubt, and then two Spensers, Early Autumn (one of the best of the series just for defining Spenser’s code, which is roughly “autonomy with honor”) and Hundred-Dollar Baby (notable for being a rare case in which Spenser’s knight-errantry fails rather spectacularly). In between, I did read another two hundred pages or so of Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, but it’s just too good to power through. I do intend to keep on reading it, so more about it later, if only for an excuse to quote more of West’s remarkable sentences.
Looking back over the summer, it wasn’t a great one for reading, beyond (and even, to some extent, including) the books I read for reviews. Still, there were definitely some highlights. Chief among them would have to be Moby-Dick, and isn’t that an entry that makes up for a lot of other deficiencies! A first reading of a novel so deep and capacious can only be a preliminary one, of course, but now that I’ve reveled in it once I know why I will want to read it again one day. In retrospect, I’m surprised at how low my expectations were. Why didn’t I know how much fun it would be?
The novels of Kent Haruf are on a very different scale and in a very different register — it’s hard to imagine a greater contrast, really, to Melville — but in their own quiet way they gave me a lot of pleasure — readerly pleasure, that is, as they are certainly not novels that shy away from emotional pain. And I would single out David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl and Emma Claire Sweeney’s Owl Song at Dawn as two other books that I particularly enjoyed this summer: both eloquently and, in their own ways, elegantly conveyed the complexities of love and family, and the need, above all, for acceptance.
I expected To the Lighthouse to be another high point of my summer reading: that it wasn’t is surely my fault, not the novel’s. Another time.
And with that, another summer ends and another fall term begins.