My first book hasn't actually been languishing for very long at all. But I'm so excited to be finally reading it, that I had to mention it this week.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest, most ultra-Dickensian places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its publisher.
In its simplest terms, this is a novel about the long-term friendship of four classmates from a Massachusetts liberal arts college who come to New York to make their way; unlike most such college friendships the four never lose touch over the years and decades.
There is Willem, an actor from the West who becomes a Ryan Gosling-type indie film star and heartthrob; Malcolm, an Upper East Side buppie who becomes a noted architect; JB, a painter of Haitian/Brooklyn middle class descent whose Basquiat-type portraits of his friends earn him art world fame and fortune; and Jude St. Francis, a damaged orphan with a mysterious past whose brilliance in the law cannot shield him from the effects of that past and whose fragility and need for protection bind the group together as much as any one thing.
The book begins as a four-hander as we watch the friends progress in their lives and careers and observe the intricacies and shifting alliances of such a group friendship. But gradually Jude takes over the book and we learn his horrifying and beyond-Gothic backstory. The drama of the book is whether Jude can ever escape the grip of his Dickensian past--can he be saved? All of this unfolds over the decades in a mesmerizing fashion, with the tragic and the transcendent being on closer and more intimate terms than any work of fiction you have ever read.
My classic TBR this week has been languishing for a couple of years now. Thanks to its gorgeous cover, though, it has pride of place with my other Virago Modern Classic designer books on the bookcase in our bedroom. These books catch my eyes every morning when I open the blinds. They always give me a little bookish glow of pleasure. A lovely way to start each day.
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
The Dud Avocado follows the romantic and comedic adventures of a young American who heads overseas to conquer Paris in the late 1950s.
Edith Wharton and Henry James wrote about the American girl abroad, but it was Elaine Dundy’s Sally Jay Gorce who told us what she was really thinking. Charming, sexy, and hilarious, The Dud Avocado gained instant cult status when it was first published and it remains a timeless portrait of a woman hell-bent on living.
“I had to tell someone how much I enjoyed The Dud Avocado. It made me laugh, scream, and guffaw (which, incidentally, is a great name for a law firm).” –Groucho Marx
"[The Dud Avocado] is one of the best novels about growing up fast..." -The Guardian
Have you read either of these books?
Enough blogging - time to jump back into A Little Life!