Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring reading

With spring break at hand I actually read three books this weekend, albeit all short and more or less compulsively digestible.  (I may now try to get back to Paul Scott's Jewel in the Crown, which is slower going.)  All three are highly recommended, depending on one's taste.

The first was Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's The Blank Wall, a 40s noir that's included in an excellent compilation of period noirs written by women.  It reads a bit as if one had taken Mrs. Dalloway and plunged her into the world of Patricia Highsmith.  Best of the four stories in its volume, perhaps in a tie with Dorothy Hughes' In a Lonely Place (which was softened considerably for the Bogart film).

Next up, Patrick Modiano's In the Cafe of Lost Youth.  I knew little in advance about Modiano, a French writer who won the 2014 Nobel Literature Prize, but I've come across so many startlingly good New York Review of Books reissues that I joined their book club, which sends you a new re-publication of their choice every month.  Very sad and quiet but compelling, and I'll certainly be reading more by Modiano.

Finally, being out of town for the weekend and out of books other than on my Kindle, but not wanting to start anything on it that wasn't  a quick read, I downloaded a dark and very hard-boiled noir from around the same period as The Blank Wall - David Goodis's Cassidy's Girl.  Obsession, violence, alcoholism, despair, fate, desperation, and recurring tragedy would have been among the keywords for this one, had the author (improbably and anachronistically) posted it on SSRN.

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