This Summer was prefaced by airplane rides and interrupted by covid, Monteczuma’s revenge and a couple of time outs. Which prompted more reading than usual. Also, discovering a new IRL bookstore in April prompted new titles and new perspective. So, what follows is my partial reading list. No one recommended these books to me. I’d only heard of one or two of the books before. The only writers I knew (but had never read) were three writers from The New Yorker — you’ll know who I mean. Each of these books immerses you like a stone in water. Need that.
Sorry, no books on branding, growth hacking, becoming multiversal or the latest NFT (the c00lest new NFT is Citadel). Next time.
The Kindness Of Strangers
My favorite book all Summer — the one that my mind keeps coming back to, the one that I most remember the feeling of reading (think Amor Towles) is Salka Viertel’s biographical tale of growing up in her wealthy family home in the troubled 1930s borderlands adjacent to Czechoslovakia, becoming an actress, marrying a theatrical director and then fleeing to Poland and then Vienna and London and finally Hollywood. More or less abandoned by her husband, who takes a position as theatrical director in London, Salka becomes a fixture in the pre-WW2 Hollywood crowd. She buys a home on the beach outside of Santa Monica (one senses Malibu Beach Colony before it was called that) and becomes Greta Garbo’s best friend. In fact, Salka is acquainted with all the emigres fleeing Europe, from Chaplin to Einstein (even Franz Kafka has a walk-on part in her story). Her existence is haunted, tenuous, provocative. There is not a hollow moment anywhere.
Slow Days, Fast Company
My god this book is a stunner. What Fran Lebowitz is to New York City, Eve Babitz is to sun-addled 1970s Los Angeles. When she was 20, Eve Babitz was photographed nude with Marcel Duchamp. As the title implies, this gossipy book races from Malibu to The Beach Boys and then floats a mai-tai down Sunset Boulevard. Chateau Marmot, Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison and other sun-screened personalities ride Eastward into a lizard-baked desert. Babitz’s prose is…