Helen Ellis is just plain hysterical. Do you have to be from New York to find American Housewife funny? I’m not sure. Read “Hello! Welcome to Book Club,” “How to Be a Patron of the Arts,” and “Dead Doormen,” and tell me you don’t want Helen Elis to be your BFF, to hang out and drink some wine and laugh. Seriously! The world is a big fat mess and this collection of stories is an antidote. You’re welcome.
The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan is such an essential book for us today living, as we do, in an age of terrorism that feels scary and inexplicable. It’s the story of the aftermath of a small bomb explosion in a Delhi market and especially its effect on two families. Mahajan also describes the perpetrators with empathy and humanity. I’ve been covering my ears about so much of our contemporary geo-political landscape. This one really got to me.
I totally understand you might not want to read a book about a failing marriage. But keep in mind this one’s by a Brit … and they fail so much more intelligently than anyone else. Conrad & Eleanor by Jane Rogers tells the story of a couple of scientists (he working on experiments with money hearts, she in stem cell research) who, when the novel opens, are fairly unhappily co-existing due to infidelity, career priorities, and being generally pissed off at one another.
When Conrad fails to return home from a conference abroad, things get really interesting … with assist from a crazed, PETA-type stalker. I loved the way Rogers describes how bewilderingly a marriage goes south: “Accretion, accretion, the slow accretion of tiny details of speech and action like specks of dust which gradually bury the partners in a marriage.” Also skillfully depicted are Eleanor’s impatient intellect and Conrad’s love for his children that comes to overshadow his feeling for his wife. Not everyone’s cup of tea (so to speak) … you have to be in the mood.
It’s August. Eat lots of tomato sandwiches, stone fruits, and curl up in the cozy San Francisco fog (if that’s where you are) and read!