Bedtime Stories: June 2019
- June 27, 2019
What do book lovers have queued up on their nightstands and ready to read before lights-out? We asked one of them, and here’s what she said.
When I’m working on a novel, I tend to stay away from fiction so as not to become too reactive in my own, and I focus mainly on history, biography, and essays. But while writing my End of Forever books, set in London and L.A., I did manage some great fiction to get the L.A. vibe: John Fante’s poetry in prose Ask the Dust, nothing but heartache about the human condition, and James Ellroy’s gritty and wrenching roman noir The Black Dahlia.
But now that the End of Forever books are finished after five years, I can return to immersing myself in other people’s make-believe stories. Though first I immersed myself in Carrie Fisher’s last memoir, The Princess Diarist, about her make-believe days as a 20-year-old ingenue on the set of “Star Wars,” which was tear-jerking even when it was funny. Especially when it was funny.
Also, I re-read Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the most beautifully written love stories ever told, of a man hopelessly in love with a woman who is clearly no good for him, and yet…
At the moment, I’m juggling three fiction tomes. I’m loving A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, which is delicious and wonderfully satirical about the Soviet Union in 1922. I can’t wait to see where it goes, but I’m trying to read slowly to savor every amusing tidbit.
While in London, I also picked up Men Without Women, a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami. I love Murakami’s clear, absorbing style in his memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and his magical-realism, brilliant novel Kafka on the Shore is one of my favorites, so I’m eager to read the seven stories about men in various states of solitude and loneliness. The first two stories were wryly excellent, but I hear the fifth, “Kino,” is one of his best, so I can’t wait.
I thought I could go back and forth between these two and The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley. However, Mosley’s book has quickly become too compulsively readable, too attention-grabby, too exciting. It’s going to be Mosley or bust until I’m finished in a few days’ time.
On my bedside, or in my carry-on, to be read this summer when I travel to Paris and Amsterdam with my last child, who is graduating high school and fleeing the nest, is Anywhere but Here, Mona Simpson’s story of a mother and a daughter traveling together, trying to connect, and The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, about a professional kidnapper in North Korea, the latter passionately recommended to me by my older daughter, a senior editor at Simon & Schuster, who reads voraciously and speedily, and who told me she ugly cried when she read it.
Paullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author of multiple novels, including Red Leaves, Eleven Hours, The Bronze Horseman, The Summer Garden, and The Girl in Times Square. Her latest release — and the first installment in her End of Forever series — is The Tiger Catcher.