Well, summer is over and unlikely to return anytime soon, and if it did I don’t know if it would be that welcome anyhow. After my customary three weeks in Spain, I think my pineal gland (corpus pineale) has the production of melatonin well under control. I am sufficiently revigorated by lazy evenings under palm trees (one night quite literally) and can say to myself with at least a semblance of honesty that I’m ready for the dark days ahead. This year I set myself a goal: Read 10 books during my summer vacation. I’m sorry to say that yet again I’ve failed. On the plane back I finished the sixth book. I blame social obligations and some authors that could have used a firmer editorial hand.
The six books were – in order of reading – The People’s Act of Love by James Meeks, Ordeal by Hunger by George R. Stewart, The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner and finally Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.
As luck or whatever would have it, the first two books on this list were – at least partly – about cannibalism (and damn if we didn’t get a taste of human flesh in Gaiman’s book as well!), while Mailer’s overlong last novel were an attempt at a psychological portrait of Adolf Hitler’s younger years and the immediate family history. Intruder In the Dust is plotwise relatively lightweight Faulkner, but narratively the novel can take its toll, with single phrases at times spanning four pages. Pessl’s first novel offered thus a welcome respite and I plowed through it faster than Rudy Giuliani could mention 9/11 at any given moment.
All this is neither here nor there if I don’t take the opportunity to comment on what’s between the covers of the books, and rest assured, ye merry gentlefolk, that I plan to do so in the coming weeks. For now it will have to suffice to say that merely one of the books was a masterpiece (Ordeal by Hunger), one was an example of great literature (Intruder in the Dust), while the others were seldom less than entertaining, but merely intermittently more and almost without exception in desperate need of a rather severe trimming.