Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
WASHINGTON POST STARTS BOOK BLOG - SHORT STACK
If Your Marriage Is on the Rocks
We kick off our blog with a short list of five books that might be tonics to marital troubles.
If only because they'll make you feel better! Tell us what books you'd gently press on a friend. And feel free to weigh in on these.
1. Anna Karenina, by Leo TolstoyBored wife falls for dashing bachelor. No less than the classic on the question. So provocative and controversial in its time, that when it was originally published in serial installments in the Russian Messenger, the magazine editor pulled the last chapters and refused to publish any more. Read it as salve. Things couldn't get much worse.
2. On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwanA throwback to the early '60s, on the cusp of the sexual revolution. Reading it now -- sly move by McEwan -- we realize how simple the solution might have been had this young bride and groom postponed their big night for a decade: All they needed was a bit more openness, more talk. It makes you wonder how enlightened minds in the future will see current myopias.
3. The Awakening, by Kate ChopinBack
to the 19th century, and our heroine, alas, was born long before her time. She is dreamy, artistic -- a mother of two in the staid, mid-century city of New Orleans. She has sex with a younger man when her husband is out of town, and, suddenly, all her repressed creativity is released. Society will make her pay a high price for it.
4. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
Some will say that this story is all too similar to 1 and 3, but, since the characters are French, that would be impossible. Love here is nothing like Anna's harrowing love for Vronsky, nor is it about a woman led to the depths of her own soul. It's Emma, having a good roll in the hay with Rodolphe, and then with Leon -- all of it out of sheer appetite and vanity. In the end, romance doesn't live up to her hyperinflated illusions, nor, for that matter, does her grand exit.
5. Rambling Rose, by Calder Willingham
A rural Georgia household is turned upside down when an attractive, seductive young woman comes from the city to be the family maid. But despite all temptations -- which prove considerable -- the husband remains true to his wife. Who knew virtue could be so entertaining? -- Marie Arana
The Book World Blog About Short Stack:
Short Stack is a blog by book lovers for book lovers. Every week a member of our staff recommends a list of five favorite books on a particular subject -- fiction or nonfiction. We invite our readers to agree, disagree, free associate, and post their own favorites. In this way, we hope to spark conversation, share ideas, learn a thing or two. -- Marie Arana, Book World Editor