Six Books

Sally Mann's daughter Jessie with a candy cigarette. "Viewers who knew nothing about us interpreted our lives, and the images were scrutinized under the mantle of scholarship or god-haunted righteousness," the photographer writes in her memoir.

Sally Mann’s daughter Jessie with a candy cigarette. “Viewers who knew nothing about us interpreted our lives, and the images were scrutinized under the mantle of scholarship or god-haunted righteousness,” the photographer writes in her memoir.

Among the books I read this year:

A Gentleman of Leisure by P.G. Wodehouse (1910). The coincidences come thick and fast in this story about a wealthy young man, a jewelry heist, idle doings in a British manor and a romance gone right, vindicating those who maintain that everything happens for a reason.

I always confuse Wodehouse with Evelyn Waugh. So I read Waugh’s A Handful of Dust (1934), too. More hijinks among the upper classes, and what you had to do to get a divorce. Plus: the downside of reading Dickens in the Brazilian jungle.

The Girl on the Train (2015), by Paula Hawkins. I heard an interview with the author on NPR one night while driving and was hooked. Through a drunken haze, the our narrator sees a married former neighbor dallying with another man. Soon that neighbor disappears and the unreliable narrator makes every wrong choice available to her to try to solve the mystery.

Hold Still, by Sally Mann (2015). I was introduced to the work of the Virginia photographer about a year ago. In this memoir, she shows herself to be a great storyteller, naive, an obsessive artist with a wonderful way with a southernism (“He was in more trouble than a run-over dog.”). She defends her controversial photographs of her children like a mother defends her children. She’s great, albeit gothic, company.

Run, Don’t Walk, by Adele Levine (2014). Walter Reed Army Medical Center as the 4077th.  Washington physical therapist Adele Levine writes warmly and humorously about her six years treating casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee (2015). Scout Finch, all grown up, travels back south from New York City and discovers her father, Atticus, is not Gregory Peck, but an ossified small-town bigot. I have the same reaction every time I go on Facebook.

What did you read in 2015?

 

 

 

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