Here’s what I’ve read during these past few weeks.
The Aspern Papers by Henry James. This is not the first time I have read this short masterpiece of fiction. His strengths as a writer are on full display here, such as his ability to delineate subtle emotional shifts and show the levers of power in interpersonal relationships. This novella is told by a nameless narrator who is obsessed with a long-dead poet. The narrator finds out that the poet’s very old mistress is living in Venice and might have some personal effects of the poet: the Aspern Papers of the title. He aims to get them any way possible, but when they are offered to him, he finds the price, though not financial, is simply to high. Recommended for people new to Henry James.
Life by Keith Richards. Another rock n’ roll memoir. Unlike Steven Adler’s memoir, Richards is a more entertaining and self-reflective storyteller. From meeting Mick Jagger when they were kids, (they literally lived on the other side of the tracks from each other with Mick in the more fashionable part of town) to his drug-addled relationship with Anita Pallenberg, to taking his seven-year-old son Marlon on tour with him, his many attempts to get clean, and up through his fights with Mick, it’s a fascinating read about his life before and during his essential membership in the Rolling Stones. Rock n’ roll will never be new again and there will never be another band like the Rolling Stones. Recommended for Music Fans.
La Perdida by Jessica Abel. So far this is among the best graphic novels I have ever read. It’s a story about a naive young woman named Carla who moves to Mexico City to visit an ex-boyfriend and discover her “Mexican” roots, and ends up becoming the catalyst for and getting involved in something much more dangerous. There are references to Kerouac, Kahlo, and Burroughs, with plenty of questions about what’s authentic in experiencing a foreign culture. I sympathized with Carla while wanting to shake her out of her cluelessness. Recommended for People Who Are Young (at Heart) and Like to Wander.