• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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As The Evening Sky Grew Dark












Interviewed a new intern today. A college junior. Jesus, those were the worst years of my life. I never thought I’d make it to 50 and I never thought I’d like it. But damn if doesn’t beat walking around Washington Square Park in a quasi-suicidal state without a clue as to the nature of my depression, or how to get treatment, all to a Bob Dylan soundtrack that played endlessly in my head while watching the human parade. Henry James’ Portrait of  Lady was assigned for one of my English classes. I went to St. Mark’s Book Store to find a copy and in my usual daze bought a copy of Heinrich Boll’s Group Portrait with Lady. It was probably the best book I read that year and it was by accident. All I remember from it, all these years later, is the nun investigating the students’ bowels. It’s definitely one of the books I’ll reread in the nursing home, you know, when I’m not playing Banagrams or sneaking out back to blaze.

What’s on your reread list?

50 Responses

  1. i left a list today at suzy v.’s of books i want to re-read this summer.

    when i’m old and back to blazing, i will re-read the fountain head, the women’s room, the world according to garp, erica jong when no one comes to visit, joan didion when everyone else is dead, and my dorothy parker portable reader will stay in a flap secured to the front of my walker, constantly tipping me forward.

  2. Well fuck me sideways. Being of German pedigree, I approve of the Heinrich Boll accidental read. Nuns and bowel investigation is a particular fascination of yours truly.

    What’s on my reread list? Grace Paley. Her collected stories. I love her mad scientist dandelion hair on the cover.

  3. Everything I devoured as a young woman by Patrick White, especially Voss and A Fringe of Leaves.

  4. When I was young, beautiful and clueless, now I’m just clueless, I lived in Jo’burg, SA. As a whiter than white ’yank’, I stood out in the harsh reality of apartheid as an interloper the minute I opened my mouth and American-speak came out. They thought I was there to judge, I was there to get through and simply make it home. (I did fall in love though.)
    Living in the penthouse of an apartment in Hilbrow, overlooking the Brixton Tower set me, literally, above the rest. I was miserable; I was beyond lonely because I did not belong.
    So…when my kids move me into Happyland, (Six Flags for seniors), I will be miserable because I will believe I don’t belong, I want to read what I read in Jo’burg, (I read them both at the same time), Gone with the Wind and Atlas Shrugged.
    It was a feat to tackle them together, I shall try again someday.
    BTW no apartheid in RSA anymore, Thank God. The place where I used to live is a slum now and the Cape Town Afrikaner I fell in love with has died.
    If you live long enough everything changes, everyone passes on.

  5. A few Freuds.
    A few Jungs.
    Joyce’s Ulysses.
    Don Quixote.
    The Canterbury Tales.
    Tristram Shandy.
    All of Shakespeare.

    That’s the short list. Other re-reads tickle at the margins of my mind, but time is tight. There’s new stuff to read, too.

    These days, though, I’m doing a re-read of Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative. Research for a book.

  6. Michael Connelly’s “Black Ice,” the first Harry Bosch book
    “A Time to Kill” by Grisham
    Ed McBain’s books
    “The Lincoln Lawyer”

  7. Last yearI started a tradition of re-reading Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine during the month of June. So today’s post is a good reminder for me to go to the library.

    Re-read list:

    Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
    Ada – Nabokov
    Beloved – Toni Morrison
    and every June I’ll read Ddandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

    These four books could keep me happy for the rest of my lfie. But as Tetman said – there’s only so much time and always so many new things to read.

  8. I’m going to be in short story heaven at the home with the collections of Richard Yates, Grace Paley, Eudora Welty, Willa Cather, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Annie Proulx, TC Boyle.

  9. Did you know they now have cameras set up in Washington Square Park? God, how I’d love to be the person monitoring them.

    • If it’s anything like it used to be, a lot of dope smoking and hours and hours of chess playing and bikers and skate boarders passing through. Music, too.

  10. I’ve got so many book on my “to-read” list, I have no plans to re-read though I’ve got stacks of books all over my bedroom and there’s a reliable few I go to for inspiration when I’m stuck…”Veronica” by Mary Gaitskill, “Angels” by Denis Johnson, Flannery O’Conner’s Collected Short Stories, “No Country for Old Man” by Cormac McCarthy, etc.

    My younger brother has a friend who wrote (and self-published I think) a book called “Shades of Gray” a couple of years back which is now selling again thanks to that other book with those words in the title.

  11. Dylan Thomas — Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. Felt like I lived some of that book, drunk and lost days and nights with no direction home.
    Stop Time by Frank Conroy. I read it 35 years ago and it made an impact. How would I view it today?
    The Famished Road by Ben Okri. Read it 15 years ago and some of the images haunt me still, late nights in a hot and humid bar full of spirits, both liquid and smoke. Although it’s set in Africa, it reminded me of the bayou at night when all sorts of things can happen, most of which I’ll never understand.

  12. You walked around with an endless Bob Dylan soundtrack playing in your head? Lucky, lucky you. All else in your life must have seemed only commentary.

    Reread anything by John Grisham, anything by Scott Turow, anything by Tolkien (Beowulf, anyone?), anything by Robert Jordan, anything by John LeCarre, anything by Chandler or Hammett, anything by Hemingway, anything by Herman Wouk, anything by Donald Stephenson, anything by Chaim Grade, anything by Philip Dick, anything by Michael Chaybon, anything by Gary Shteyngart, anything by Sara Paretsky.

    • I like Beowulf. I’ve read Raffel’s translation a couple times. Not sure I’ll take the time to read it again, but never can tell.

      I re-read THE SUN ALSO RISES just a few months ago. A hands-down brilliant piece of work. I may end up reading it again.

  13. “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” by David Wroblewski is the first and only one that comes to mind. I don’t necessarily want or like to end up crying when I read books, but God, this one sent me off the edge several times. I’m so tenderhearted when it comes to dogs, and as far as the boy, Edgar, is concerned, how could you not cry for him? I’ve never read anything that stayed with me like this book. Well, maybe “The Yearling” which I read when I was around nine or ten…my mother heard me wailing and came to see why and all I could do was hold up the book.

  14. Call Me The Breeze by Patrick McCabe, I love that book. The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse, and everything by Harold Pinter.

  15. Right now?

    I’m on a John Irving kick—A Prayer for Owen Meany, The World According to Garp, Hotel New Hampshire, and Widow for One Year.

    The original Sherlock Holmes stories by Doyle.

    Robert Parker—he may only have written five books eight times each, as some claim, but those are five excellent books.

    And Agnes and the Hitman.by Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer. it’s funny and has an enigmatic secondary character in it who is played, in my mind, by Ving Rhames. Good fun.

    • Yep–he’s one of my major repeats. You’ve named my two favorites (Owen Meany and Garp), but Hotel NH has one of my favorite closing lines: “You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed. You have to keep passing the open windows.”

    • I am WITH YOU on Parker!

  16. All the Wooster and Blandings Castle novels by P.G. Wodehouse and all six books of the Mapp and Lucia series by E. F. Benson.

    • Me for Wodehouse. Nobody else is worth re-reading. I’ve never read Mapp and Lucia, though. Will check them out.

  17. For the last years i’d pack Middlemarch, Hopscotch, Little House on the Prairie, Terra Nostra, all of Dickenson, Clarice Lispector, David Copperfield and A Wrinkle in Time.

  18. Someday when I’m old, I’m going to take all my novels, stories & essays that haven’t been published and find an exquisite indie press and turn them into gorgeous books. Then I’ll bring them to the Home and pile them around myself, light a contraband candle, turn on Chopin and read. Cigarettes & wine will be invoved. I think I’ll be sleeping with my books by then, too.

  19. I’d like to re-read the HIstorian by Elizabeth Kostova and the LOTR series.

  20. East of Eden. I re-read it every 20 years. I first read it when I was 13 at the suggestion of my English teacher. To say it had an impact on me is an understatement. I spent the next six years trying to decide if I wanted to be a whore or a nun. Turns out I was a bit of both.

    • On the inner mudroom door of an old, one room school house I lived in, someone had painted a few birch trees and the word Timshel. Possible translation: Thou Mayest. No right or wrong, just a matter of choice. Going back to Cain and Abel, that’s some mistranslation.

  21. I’ve thought about re-reading Leon Uris’ “Topaz”. Read it the first time – covertly – in HS study hall. I can recall my face blushing virginally hot as I read the sex scenes. The spy stuff was fairly intense, too. Four decades later, I’m curious if the plot (and the sex scenes) will hold my middle aged interest that intensely.

  22. Bhagavad-Gita. The only non-spiritual book I’d consider is Bambi, by Felix Salten.

  23. Wharton and Anne of Green Gables, the first book I ever read and re-read, leave as I came in I guess.

  24. Vonnegut, Twain, Swift, London, Couelo….Grendel, Ishmael, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Moby Dick, The Old Man and the Sea, Cork Boat…so many, so many….

  25. The Borrowers I have re read. There are too many yet unread to thinks of dupes now.

  26. I am a chronic re-reader. I would a hundred times rather re-read a book I enjoyed than venture into something new. I can’t bear the suspense–that horrible, wonderful attachment to the characters without knowing what’s going to happen to them. In fact, I’m so wary of heartbreak that I will usually read the first few chapters of an unfamiliar book, then skip to the end to see how it all comes out, as a means of simulating the future re-read.

    Maybe I should stick to nonfiction.

    • This is why my personal library is so small, aside from financial reasons. My favorites have been read anywhere from a dozen to two dozen times, maybe more. Even books I don’t like get a re-reading, just to see if I’ll change my mind.

  27. Empire Falls by Richard Russo.
    Beloved by Toni Morrison.
    Every damn thing by Richard Yates.

  28. “During the Reign of the Queen of Persia,” by Joan Chase, a gorgeous novel about a grandmother who rules over a family of five daughters and four granddaughters in rural Ohio in the 1950’s. She had me at the title.

    “”My Old Sweetheart,” by Susanna Moore, mother/daughter novel set in Hawaii. The first paragraph slays me: “That night the fields were on fire. The smell of the cane woke her: it was like sugar burning at the bottom of the pan. Three days before, she had Tosi, the Japanese boy, move her cot to the sleeping porch. He thought it was because she loved the night-jasmine that covered that part of the house, the old part, but it was because she was waiting for the fires.”

  29. My perennial re-reads:

    The Floating Opera by John Barth

    Puddn’head Wilson by Mark Twain

    The Comforters by Muriel Spark

    A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

    Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

    Edwin Mulhouse by Steven Milhauser

    The Great Gatsby by FSF

    Lolita by VN

  30. EDGAR SAWTELLE. I reread it when I was originally reading it, if you know what I mean. Seriously, folks, if you’ve got some time this summer, READ IT.

  31. 1. the great gatsby (fitzgerald)
    2. the sun also rises (hemingway)
    3. celestial navigation (tyler)
    4. as i lay dying (faulkner)
    5. under the volcano (lowry)
    6. jesus’ son (denis johnson)
    7. the people’s act of love (meek)
    8. drift (patterson)
    9. drown (diaz)

    and a hundred more.

  32. Who knew that celestial navigation was fiction, or that Noah had a compass? Good stuff on that list, Rea.

    • Anne Tyler is one of the best writers about men. And about women. About ordinary people and ordinary days. Good old simple grace, often under fire. She’s written around 20 novels. It’s a shame she’s considered by many literary snobs (not you, Frank!) to be one step up from Danielle Steele.

  33. Portrait of a Lady

  34. I reread A Catcher In the Rye every few years (who doesn’t), 1984 (I wrote a book loosely based on it),

    Motherless Brooklyn, The Five Chinese Brothers, and various Hemingway offerings. Truthfully, I don’t read much when I’m writing and I write a lot. I know my propensity to mimic and I don’t want to mimic.

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