I’m very much enjoying a new summer novel, Honestly, We Meant Well, by Grant Ginder. It is light, realistic, well-written, and comical, a literary novel that can double as a beach read. Ginder is a master of fast scenes and witty dialogue in this adroit portrayal of a family vacation in Greece. When Sue Ellen, a classicist, accepts a gig lecturing in Greece, she isn’t entirely happy that the family is accompanying her. She’s annoyed with her philandering husband and grieving the death of Christos, a former lover who ran the inn where they’re staying. Her husband, Dean a writer and creative writing professor, is worried about his next novel and, unbeknownst to her, is cheating on her again. Their son, Will, is in agony over a breakup with his boyfriend and has also plagiarized a short story. Then there’s Eleni, Christos’ daughter, about to sell the inn. The novel is also a kind of guide to Greece. Delphi, Athens, Aegina… Great fun.
The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan by Stuart Palmer. This quick American novel, first published in 1941, is a Golden Age Detective novel. The amateur sleuth, Hildegarde Withers, is a New York schoolteacher on vacation in L.A. When a Hollywood agent recruits her as an expert advisor for a film about Lizzie Borden, she starts finding dead bodies, beginning with the scriptwriter in the office next door. Rollicking adventures, humor, and suspense: I do hope I can find other books in this Miss Withers series. In Otto Penzler’s introduction, he compares Miss Withers to Miss Marple. This book is in the American Mystery Classics series, chosen and introduced by Otto Penzler.
THE “SHOULD-I-BOTHER?” PILE
L.A. Woman by Eve Babitz. I loved Babitz’s self-described confessional novel, Eve’s Hollywood (my post is here), but put aside L.A. Woman. Some of it is a little bit coarse. For instance, the narrator Sophie’s dog, Tango, has a kind of affair with her on the bathroom floor. And a friend gives Sophie advice on how to “give head”: “Spit,” Ophelia concluded, “That’s the whole trick to giving head. Just spit.” Okay, it’s funny but… not that funny. Should I bother?
Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion. All of Georgette Heyer’s novels are elegant, witty, and very much alike. I enjoyed the first 285 pages of Cotillion, then lost the book behind a chair. Eureka! I vacuumed! Heyer’s novels are billed as Regency romances, but they’re more like Regency comedies. I guarantee the girl will get the guy. Should I bother?
The Magus by John Fowles. This is always mentioned on summer reading lists. Last summer I read the first 300 pages. It’s haunting and boring at the same time. Should I pick it up again?
What are you reading and what’s on your “Should-I-Bother” pile.