Too Many Library Books? & Literary Links

Widener Library at Harvard University

Libraries shape our lives.

At libraries I’ve found the little-known novels of Anna Kavan; Rhys Davies’s Honeysuckle Girl, a novel about Kavan ; Lilian Pizzichini’s The Blue Hour:  A Life of Jean Rhys; Vita Sackville-West’s out-of-print novel, The Easter Party; and a Welsh duology about coal miners. (Can’t remember the title, and it’s not How Green Was My Valley!)  Where else would I have found these books?

If, like me, you’re a library enthusiast, I recommend Christine Thompson’s amusing essay at The American Scholar, “The Ritual of Renewal.” After finishing a writing project, Thompson realized she has 200 books checked out from Harvard University Library.

2.  How do you feel about the suburbs?  I have spent most of my life in towns and cities, because it’s more convenient and the mass transit is better. But at NPR,  Etelka Lehoczky reviews a new book by Amanda Kolson Hurley, Radical Suburbs: Experimental Living on the Fringes of the American City.  And it sounds fascinating:  a few suburbs were founded as radical communities.

3.  At The Guardian, Marcel Theroux reviews Ian McEwan’s new book, Machines Like Me,” a dystopian vision of humanoid robots in a counterfactual 1982 Britain.”  I can’t wait to read it.

4.  Do you know the work of Iowa writer Margaret Wilson, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1924 for The Able McLaughlins? I was pleased to see that Library of America has published this neglected classic as an e-book.  Wilson also wrote a sequel, The Law and the McLaughlins.

Marilynne Robinson (left) at Ruth Suckow’s home.

5.  Marilynne Robinson recently visited Ruth Suckow’s birthplace home in Hawarden, Iowa. (I’ve been there; it’s charming and simple .)  For more information about Ruth Suckow (1892-1960), a novelist and chronicler of small-town life in Iowa, visit the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association Website.