Laura Fraser knows best. Really. She's an expert on books, writing, food, fashion, Italy, San Francisco, the list goes on. Her book, An Italian Affair, is one of my favorite memoirs ever written. It chronicles her journey to Italy after being left by her husband after one year of marriage. Eat, Pray, Love (I continue to dis on this book, sorry) has nothing on this.
Here's what Laura has to say about her latest reads...
"I read Jane Smiley's Ten Days in the Hills and had a very mixed reaction. I thought it was pretty trashy. I know that was partly the point--it was LA--but I didn't give a fuck about any of her characters... and what happened to them, which made for extremely tedious reading. And I didn't give a fuck about their fucking. Also, there was so much political discourse in it, not very thoughtful but more like a screed, that the whole thing will seem quite dated in no time at all. I liked using the Iraq war as the stand-in for the Plague, but it wasn't handled well, much too shrill for real life and especially for those characters who really don't give that much of a fuck about the war to begin with. Finally, as a big fan of The Decameron, I think she could've made a lot more of using that book as a model, and played more with its themes.
John Irving's Until I Find You was likewise a big slog. Are people afraid to edit writers after they've reached these literary heights? The book had some really nice moments, packed with Dickensian characters, but take out half of it and it would have had more soul. It was a big overstuffed suitcase filled with overstuffed psyches.
(Disclaimer: I Heart John Irving. I wouldn't be able to edit him either.)
For some reason, I had never read the Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner before and loved that. Lovely spare prose, meditations on mortality, great character.
I also loved Vendela Vida's Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, because of the austere prose and the quietly restrained emotion.
My favorite book recently is Forgetfulness by Ward Just. Wonderfully understated prose, complicated human emotion, nice play between visual portraiture and literary portraiture."
Isn't Laura awesome!