Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What I Read on My Summer Vacation

Normally I start stockpiling paperback books weeks before I go away, haunting Half Price Books and the library stores, since whatever I take with me, I plan to leave there, using that room in my luggage for fudge, taffy, touristy sweatshirts and shells. But this year I just didn't do it, and as a result went on vacation pretty empty handed. Thanks to my sister, the Hudson News kiosk at the airport and the house library it worked out just fine. Here's a run through of what I read as I lay on the beach like a sloth.

1. Lowbrow mags. You know the kind, that break news that although they're wearing matching $22,000 Cartier love bracelets, Lindsay Lohan and Sam Ronson are just really good friends. Sure! Good friends, my birthday is coming up in a few weeks. I'll skip the bracelet but how about a cute Passat wagon? Other earth shattering news from the trashy mag front: Jennifer Garner is pregnant again, Salma's not marrying babydaddy, Angelina is "happy to be home with her twins,"

2. Middle-brow mags. This was an issue of Esquire which I love because it's so gay yet so insistently hetero at the same time. I'll pick a man's magazine over Cosmo/Vogue/Glamour everytime.

3. Snooty mags like The New Yorker which had a bunch of great stories. One was a profile of a sex worker in India called devadasis, who were intended to be sacred but the stark truth being that many of them are sold into sex work by their impoverished families. Another story concerned a highly respected and half-closeted soldier killed in Iraq and the fall out between the people in his life that did know and those that didn't. And a short story called Clara by Roberto Bolano that I did not like one iota.

4. Thigh High by Christina Dodd. My sister brought this for me and man was it a ridiculous romp. A mystery/romance set in New Orleans, a classic "she despised him more and more with every passing minute" quickly morphing into, "she realized she was ripe for mating." Good stuff.

5. The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke. I bought this in the airport, another set in New Orleans mystery but darker, more substance and less sex. Actually no sex that I can recall but a well-told and well-paced murder mystery set in the days right after Hurricane Katrina. I would read more of these Dave Robicheaux Mysteries.

6. Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael Koryta. This was also from my sister. I think she got this at the house last year, took it with her and then brought it back this year. Isn't she good? So was the book, about a pair of private investigators asked to look into the murder of a fellow investigator and the disappearance of his wife and daughter, setting big wheels into motion. Good read, and Koryta debuted this first book at 21.

7. Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up by Leo Damore. This was at the house where we were staying. I've only ever had a very hazy understanding of Chappaquiddick, so this book was good for me to get the facts straight. And once I did, it is hard to deny that Ted Kennedy, despite being an amazing senator for his entire life, championing all the causes near and dear to my heart, despite now having brain cancer, was responsible for the death of a young woman in 1969. He acted reprehensibly, with care only for his political future, and his right to continue drinking and philandering. He should have been brought to trial to account for his actions but as we all know, that did not happen. Now as he faces his grim diagnosis, gathering all the expert doctors and surgeons that money and fame can attract, I wonder if he thinks about Mary Jo Kopechene and how easily her life might have been spared, if he had made a different choice that night.

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