Monday, April 2, 2012
No matter what the calendar says, 80 degrees means summer reading. This past winter I read Tolstoy, and then in early spring began Dicken's "Nicholas Nickleby". But I cannot read cold weather books on a warm porch, and I abandoned "Nickleby" until next fall. Summer porches are too distracting-
For there are thunderstorms being born and fabulous clouds. I hear the syrupy song of the House Finchs. I sit and wonder if this will be the summer my Night Blooming Cereus flowers. I can smell the jasmine I bought yesterday, though I did not know when I brought it home that it was a winter and early spring bloomer.
Last summer I read Raymond Chandler. This summer I am going to read Paul Bowles and Lawrence Durrell, specialists in what I call Bohemian Noir. And I will finish Kerouac's "Dharma Bums", which I picked up, unseasonably, last October.
What better short story to read, as clowns of every political persuasion slouch toward their party conventions, than Bowles' "Pages from Cold Point", whose jaded narrator tells us "Our civilization is doomed to a short life.....Let it go-"
Durrell lived on Corfu, then in Provence, in the company of people surpassingly strange. In Bowles' stories, American professors, lost in the desert, are kidnapped and turned into tongueless clowns by Bedouins-
Yet today- I read an all seasons writer, as I passed the afternoon on the ragged old daybed I use as a porch sofa ( It is stained, and was bought cushion-less , for 5 dollars. A mouse made a hole in it, and once lived inside. I cover it with sheets-)
I borrowed "Just Enough Liebling" from Inter-Library loan. And nothing I heard or saw from my languid porch deterred me from Liebling's memoir of returning to the US at the beginning of World War Two on a Norwegian freighter in a a convoy of Allied ships. Or his portrait of a cocky, crazy, and unique American military semi-hero in "Quest for Mollie".
The more I read J.L. Liebling , the more inexhaustible he seems. He loved Paris, good food, journalism, New York, prize fighters. I have yet to catch him perpetrating a dull word.
After all, when he was out to get his big break, he paid a man to march up and down outside Joseph Pulitzer's "The World " newspaper building carrying a placard reading "HIRE JOE LIEBLING".
And oh yes, if that is not recommendation enough- he was booted out of Dartmouth for skipping chapel.
My kind of man.