|Train-window views to read by, taken between Paris and Venice last month|
Next, I read Tessa Hadley's novel, The Past, a study of one extended family's gathering for perhaps the last summer vacation together in the large rambling, semi-rural English home they'd inherited from their grandparents. The "past" of the title is outlined in a separate section of the novel, at its core, and is spectrally, uneasily present throughout. The children's characters and actions throughout -- in both present and past -- are compelling, mostly credible, playing on those edges of perceived innocence and dangerous experience that adults too often easily consign kids to, forgetting or denying the darker corners of childhood.
By the time I'd finished this, on the long train ride from Paris to Venice, the ebooks I'd put on hold before our trip began coming in at a fast and furious pace. Luckily, we still had a few train journeys ahead -- from Venice to Ljubljana, for example, which is when I began reading Lauren Collins' When in French: Love in a Second Language. Within the first two chapters of reading this memoir, I had resolved to get my own print copy once I got back home. Collins is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, and she writes beautifully -- her metaphors so often flirt with over-the-top-ness, yet manage somehow to work, to be perfectly apt, to illustrate freshly enough to make me laugh. And I laughed so often while reading this, and so often I had to make Paul stop what he was doing to listen to me read a passage out loud. The New Yorker has a large excerpt online, so that you can see what I mean .
What that excerpt doesn't illustrate is the fascinating research Collins weaves into her memoir, so that as much as a personal narrative about falling in love, becoming an ex-pat, learning and loving and living in a second language, it is also a narrative about the United States' changing attitudes about and toward multilingualism, about the growing mistrust of "foreign" languages, about what the ramifications of those attitudinal changes might be in a globalised universe. So interesting. Highly recommended, and do let me know if you read it.
I have three more titles to tell you about, but why not save those for another post. . . . For now, why don't you tell me what you've been reading? I love our conversations about books here, and I've missed you!