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Pleasure Reading

Back from vacation—a week spent in Cape Cod, where the beach is near, the light is crisp and a stomach bug cut a swathe through my extended family.  A virus or possibly food poisoning felled us, one by wretched, wretching, one. But when not by the seaside or the sickbed, I did sneak in a bit of pleasure reading, including:

The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon, a debut historical novel on the relationship between Aristotle and his equally celebrated pupil, Alexander The Great. Lyon restores Aristotle, granddaddy of dead white guys, to startling life, and I’ve had a soft spot for A. T.G. since I stood in the spot where he consulted the Oracle of Amun in Egypt’s remote Siwa Oasis. He asked the Oracle whether he was meant to be Pharaoh. I asked if I should accept the recent marriage proposal of my future husband. Happily, the Oracle gave the greenlight to both endeavors.

I also read Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad, which was—as critics and colleagues promised—terrific, but reading it on my Kindle was a mistake. However convenient the Kindle can be, in a book in which the chapters tell a Rashomon style story, I found myself wanting to go back, reread certain chapters in the light of later revelations, and otherwise have the ability to flip through the book. This is not easily accomplished on a Kindle. Have you had similar experiences with books ill suited for digital reading?

But by far the best thing I read was the happy news that my client, the prodigiously talented Valerie Trueblood, was short listed for the Frank O’Connor prize for short stories. In the words of the Seattle Times, her collection, Marry or Burn, “probes the idea and range of marriage…forming a dangerous, sharp-edged mosaic.”  These provocative, profound stories are a far cry from your typical boy meets girl, girl consults oracle tales, and like all great fiction, are quietly, glowingly, wrenchingly true.

One Response to Pleasure Reading

  1. Funnily enough I use an anecdote from Aristotle and Alexander the Great in my after-dinner speech on the seven deadly sins. Half through Lust there is – something like –
    ‘I think that like Aristotle we feel we are on unsure ground and might make fools of ourselves. Aristotle had been lecturing the young Alexander – in his pre-the Great teens, about dissipating his energies with his courtesan Phyllis, so Alexander dropped Phyllis. In revenge Phyllis took to cavorting outside Aristotle’s study ‘her hair was loose, her feet were bare, and the belt was off her gown.’ Aristotle succumbed; Phyllis consented – but first he must satisfy her whim – she would saddle him and ride him around the garden. The besotted Aristotle agreed. Phyllis told Alexander to hide and see. He saw. ‘Master, can this be?’ he asked. Aristotle replied ‘If lust can so overcome wisdom in one so old, one so young as Alexander must be doubly watchful!’
    I’m sure you read a fuller account in Cape Cod…

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