Dhaller

Advanced Member
2,273
United States
Georgia
Atlanta
Nothing too lofty at the moment (I think I last mentioned my forays into Herodotus and Hesiod?)

Getting back to my "comfort reading" roots with Kelly Link's short fiction collection "Pretty Monsters" (horror, more literary than shock), and Gene Wolfe's "Shadow & Claw" (sci-fi in the mannered vein of Jack Vance). Genre, but "the good stuff".

Feeding my head with Yuval Harari's "Sapiens" and Burton Malkiel's "A Random Walk Down Wall Street".

I'm also behind on magazines (I subscribe to too many, but mainly follow London Review of Books, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, MIT's Technology Magazine, Nature, and Men's Health) - I think I may take a stack on the porch and just coffee my way through them.

DH
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
10,340
United States
New York
NY
41150486.jpg

Montauk by Nicola Harrison published in 2019

This was my second attempt at a "beach read" this summer (however, read not at the beach, but in a NYC apartment during the pandemic).

Highly touted (as all books seem to be today, hmm), it's an adequate effort, but nothing more. Set in the late '30s, the story follows the life of a young New York City society woman, Beatrice Bordeaux, who decamps with her husband, Harold, for the summer to an oceanfront hotel, the Manor House - a new hotel "palace" for society - in the fishing village of Montauk. He comes for the weekends, while she stays out there all summer.

Their marriage is stressed as five years has produced no heir for hubby Harold and the Bordeaux dynasty. While alone during the week and bored with the society women and their endless luncheons and charity committee meetings, Beatrice befriends a local woman who takes in some of the hotel's laundry. From there, she meets outdoorsy handsome and stoically gentlemanly-in-a-not-society-way lighthouse keeper Thomas.

Yup, this is an author who has no shame in living out her fantasy life in cliches in her book, but hey, I wanted a beach read, so all's fair so far. The rest of the novel is Beatrice realizing that she doesn't really love her husband and being "in society," and wants to live a "truer" life with Thomas and the Montauk locals.

Okay, that too is fair enough and has happened. But of course, being a modern novel, the author can't help virtue signalling all her politically correct views stuffed anachronistically into her 1930s' heroine and plot. So, we have a MeToo moment as Beatrice's husband rapes her one night after they've stopped having sex, but Thomas, the lighthouse keeper, of course, only touches her after getting positive consent.

Also, most of the men are two-dimensional cliches that range from mansplainers to misogynists, except for the few women-fantasy-perfect men like the lighthouse keeper. However, the women are sensitive, smart and, usually, abused or dismissed by men - except for a few wealthy white women who seem fair game for condemnation by this author.

And perhaps the favorite cliche of all time of progressive movies and books going back many decades - that wealthy people do not enjoy their parties as they are all posturing and backstabbing, but poor people only have genuine fun and good will at theirs - is trotted out. Anyone who's been to both kinds of parties knows the cliche is nonsense, not worthy of any serious writer. It's not that the reverse is true; it's just simply that each group has its good and bad parties, its good and bad people, its good and bad intentions.

There are a lot of twists and turns and secrets revealed as Beatrice plans her escape from her rich husband and society to join the "real" people of the fishing village and her hunky but, of course, sensitive and supportive lighthouse keeper. At times, it's a fun page turner, but the too-easy-to-guess plot and completely not-of-the-period politics weighs down the effort. I'm done with "beach reads" for this summer.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
32,305
Harmony, FL
United States
Florida
Harmony
^^
Having picked up more than a few such disappointing reads myself, over the past several years, I have felt the pain that you describe. The problem seems exacerbated by the unfortunate reality that when I pick up and start reading a book, I feel compelled to read that book to it's very end, whether I like it or not. Egad, I am a victim of my very own internal nag! :crazy:;)
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
10,340
United States
New York
NY
^^
Having picked up more than a few such disappointing reads myself, over the past several years, I have felt the pain that you describe. The problem seems exacerbated by the unfortunate reality that when I pick up and start reading a book, I feel compelled to read that book to it's very end, whether I like it or not. Egad, I am a victim of my very own internal nag! :crazy:;)
It's frustrating as I used to enjoy a quick read of a new period novel, but almost all of them today jam modern politics in, in an aggressive and obvious way. Period movies and TV shows are doing the same thing more and more.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
32,305
Harmony, FL
United States
Florida
Harmony
The Horse, the Wheel and Language, the story of the steppe people's migration into Europe. It is not light summer reading and I am nibbling my way through it, along with trying geezerfully to catch up on my months long backlog of periodicals.
Back when I was working full time, and then some, I was always able to keep up with my periodicals, but now that I have become a man of leisure, many of those periodicals are discarded unread! Odd, for sure. :(;)
 

Dhaller

Advanced Member
2,273
United States
Georgia
Atlanta
It's frustrating as I used to enjoy a quick read of a new period novel, but almost all of them today jam modern politics in, in an aggressive and obvious way. Period movies and TV shows are doing the same thing more and more.
My go-to author for Quick Period Novels is Bernard Cornwell, a seeming firehose of well-researched historical fiction. Not a speck of modern political jam to be found in the lot.

I always have a Sharp novel or the like in the hopper (I have to keep a spreadsheet of what I've read to keep track, though!)

DH