When I was book tagged
I neglected, according to a couple of readers, to mention any fiction. What fiction do I like? What would I recommend for good summer reading?
Well, the first I ever read (and re-read many times) are Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Before age ten I also read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Last of the Mohicans. I like almost everything Mark Helprin writes, A Soldier of the Great War is the favorite. I like Willa Cather, especially Death Comes to the Archbishop, and am currently reading A Lonely Lady. I like Jerry Pournelle’s science fiction, especially, Higher Education and The Mote in God’s Eye. Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses is excellent (although made into a bad movie).
Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels is worth reading. So is Ralph Ellison’s Juneteenth. Maybe something amusing? If you have never read any P.G. Wodehouse you should immediately shoot yourself, or, if a coward, then just go out and get any of his. Also glance at Peter De Vries, say, The Blood of the Lamb. It’s about a onetime Calvinist and his search, a kind of tragicomic Pilgrim’s Progress. I remember laughing a lot when I first read it. In a different vein, any Flannery O’Connor story, maybe "A Good Man is Hard to Find." I recently read Sandor Marai’s Embers and thought it a very good book, balanced like a good wine; nice slow pace to it. Take your time with it. Almost any Elmore Leonard novel for a good, well crafted story that will never bore and always makes you smile. Leonard is at home with words. Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage is a good read. So is almost anything by Alan Furst, kind of spy novels, taking place in the dark and subtle Europe of the 30’s and 40’s. I also liked Marilynn Robinson’s Gilead; a preacher about to die, writes to his son about himself, his father, and his father’s father, back to before the Civil War. Man and God, and war and mercy. Thought inducing and graceful. If you want to do a good turn for your ear (you know I favor reading aloud), and be mesmerized by a great story, listen to Derek Jacoby read The Iliad, while you look at the words in front of you. Wonderful.