I read like a wolf eats.
I read myself to sleep every night.
― Gary Paulsen
I used to throw random paperbacks into my striped tote and tear through them while soaking up Vitamin D. But now that I’ve reached a new level of sophistication (as in I-can’t-bear-to-waste-my-time-reading-something-trashy), garden variety beach reads just don’t cut it anymore. I want wildly entertaining stuff, huge sprawling novels that are witty and whipsmart ~ and a just little bit frothy. No slender volumes or hefty topics, thank you. I want terrific dialogue, oddball characters and wild stories. I want the grasped-by-the-hair lift and thrill of a vicarious experience. Hey, there’s only so many hours in a sun-soaked afternoon.
Hungry for an absorbing page-turner? Have dinner with Herman Koch’s devilish unsettling characters. Koch dishes up roiling undercurrents, disturbing revelations, and one very unreliable narrator. (Expect a film directed by Cate Blanchett.)
Short take: Two couples meet in a swank Amsterdam restaurant to discuss an outrage perpetrated by their sons. As the evening progresses, their genteel behavior self-destructs and you see that the parents are not so different from their children.
Dirty tricks. Shocking plot developments. A contemporary moral dilemma with tons of treachery and dark edges. It’s a sly novel. Just when it seems to be heading in one direction, it careens in another. I thought it was undeniably riveting. Just like the menu.
Koch has a new book out, Summer House With Swimming Pool. It’s a tawdry tale about a summer idyll that goes nightmarishly wrong. (Film version seems inevitable.)
Short take: First-person narrator, Marc Schlosser, is a chilling general practitioner, an Amsterdam doctor with an entitled attitude who’s bored sick after having treated his patients for 30 years. One of his many famous patients, an actor, suddenly dies. All is not well.
The narcissistic sexist doctor does his job, endures the disgusting traits of his patients, smiles, nods, and watches the clock. He’s a well-paid cynic who
loathes puts up with the obesity, addictions and appetites of his culturally elite clientele. (Savagely humorous, it made me wonder if my favorite GP is choking back his horror. When the book was published in Holland, Koch’s doctor told him, “These are all the things I’d never be able to say aloud.” Yikes.)
I’m eager for his next book, Dear Mr M., his eighth novel which is about to be released in Dutch. It’s bound to be a little bit grim, a little bit grisly.
Koch reads please me. He’s got a spot-on sense of pitch-black humor. Smart characters, deceptive plots. Gripping, quick, smarter than your average summer novel. And just as satisfying after the sun goes down.
My acutely brilliant librarian just handed me The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley ~
equal parts dark family drama and pulse-pounding thriller.
Who are your favorite tote-worthy authors?
What berserkly-great books are you reading this summer?