It's that time of year again, when The Wife and I disappear into the French countryside and all you people will have to find some other way of amusing yourselves till sometime in mid September.
Before we're off, though, I wanted to share this photo, taken in our backyard, which is, I think we can all agree, very nice.
So, it's off to the Normandy coast tomorrow, where the seafood is plentiful and the beaches can be quite pebbly. But the place we head to is relatively out of the way and quiet, which is just what we're looking for, in order--among other things--to finally get some rest. And some reading done.
In the next eighteen days, we've a lot before us. Me, for instance, I hope to tackle...
Jack London, The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories
Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
Jim Crace, Being Dead
Doris Lessing, The Sweetest Dream
Harlan Ellison, Strange Wine
Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness
China Miéville, Perdido Street Station
This combines things I've already read but feel I should revisit (Jack London), things I haven't read but feel I should, but know that I will hate, (Ayn Rand) and things I think I should read for the first time since I think I'll find them good (all the rest).
Rand is receiving my attention because the fiftieth anniversary of The Worst Fucking Novel Ever Written (Atlas Shrugged) is coming up and I want to be better prepared to say something nasty about that (which doesn't actually involve reading all of Atlas Shrugged).
I'm taking Lessing along since I liked The Good Terrorist so much that I want to continue reading things in that vein.
Crace's book takes place on a beach and looks disturbing. What more need be said?
The other have their own reasons for coming along.
The Wife, for her part, plans to read the following:
William Boyd, Restless
Jim Crace, Six
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
Toby Litt, Corpsing
Alexander McCall Smith, The Two and a Half (can't do the numbers on here) Pillars of Wisdom.
Do I need to explain why? Oh well ... I bought the Boyd on an amazon.co.uk (look out -- product placement!) recommendation, but didn't manage to read it. Now's the time for rampant entertainment.
Crace is an author I should be reading more (like Adam Thorpe), but sadly don't. So there. When John has finished Being Dead I shall turn to that and will have filled that embarrassing gap in my contemporary fiction knowledge.
I return to Madame B. after a long, long, long time of reading it, thinking that it's about time I did that.
Corpsing was recommended to me by the author himself when I talked to him about my plan for a seminar on revenge. That's work, then, really, and comes with a big notebook.
And McCall Smith's book -- about an idiosyncratic academic -- might be a good segue into the big chill out. I will start with that.
If you find all this a wee bit too masculine -- and maybe bloody (not as bad as The Husband's Levi-reading): somewhere in the French-speaking world I will also buy this month's Marie Claire and peruse the beauty tips, thereby doing my bit to uphold the old phallocratic, patriarchal and logocentric order.
I might buy some French lipstick, too!!! And put it on!
Oh, and I will also take the latest Andrew Bird album bought sometime in late spring which I haven't really had enough time to listen to. I need an alternative to The Husband's rather monotonous choice -- which is The Grateful Dead, The Grateful Dead ... and The Grateful Dead.
No, hang on: he's just told me that he will take another album after all. Hoorah! It's The Gang of Four. Oh, and he's adding Kula Shaker (have I said that the new album sounds quite good? This one is an old one, though). And The Streets. And Robyn Hitchcock.
Ain't we eclectic. The endless, empty highways of France will be alive with the manifold sounds of music.
Wish us well!