After Kathi Appelt praised his book here on the blog earlier this month, I got in touch and asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Right now, I'm racing through the last chapter of Zoe Heller's marvelous new book, The Believers. It's a novel of ideas, centering around a lefty family in Greenwich Village, whose belief systems and presumptions are set into a tailspin during the first, lousy years of this century. Really entertaining, really smart and thoughtful. Of course, I adore Zoe Heller--who seems such an interesting person. Her father was a famous screenwriter, who wrote Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and others. She was, for many years, considered a lightweight writer by the British press, before coming out with... What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal which I just read last week, and LOVED. Oh, my. What a marvelous, satisfying novel. I don't care if you've seen the movie, or not, you MUST read this. The awful fate of the thoughtless Bathsheba is absolutely delicious and haunting. What a morality tale! And not in the least pedantic, or heavy-handed. Just perfect and wicked.Read an excerpt from The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy and visit Robert Leleux's website and blog.
Then, I'm also working on an article about the late, genius playwright Horton Foote, who comes from the same part of Texas I do. I've been rereading a lot of his plays, including the completely terrific Dividing the Estate, which just had a revival on Broadway with the divine Elizabeth Ashley. Dividing the Estate is THE play that talks about what's happening in America right now. Prescient and wise, and very very FUNNY.
ALSO, speaking of funny, I just finished Charlotte Mosley's The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters. And oh, how I loved that book. Such a brilliant idea, to collect the correspondence of an entire family, over fifty years, into one book. Charlotte Mosley is a genius, first-rate editor, and this collection is so moving, and surprising. So filled with the twentieth century; in the best and worst possible ways. Completely enlightening and touching.
Oh, oh, I also just finished Simone de Beauvoir's A Very Easy Death, a very short, very moving book about the final weeks of her mother's life. Filled with remarkable writing and ideas.
AND, I'm looking forward to reading Rebecca Miller's new novel, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. Do you know Rebecca Miller? She wrote a really top class collection of short stories several years ago called Personal Velocity, and has now come out with her first novel. She's the daughter of Arthur Miller and Inge Morath, and is married to Daniel Day-Lewis. Poor thing! But she's also a terrific talent, and very interesting. So, I'm looking forward to the next few days. It's so pitiful, but I'm always a bit uneasy when I don't have some terrific new book to look forward to--I never want to be out here by myself, if you know what I mean!