Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Beach House by Georgia Bockoven

In college, I took a course titled Contemporary American Writers, in which we studied the complete works of three American "writers" (they were not all novelists, or even "writers" in the most traditional sense of the word) and the focus on each author culminated with a three hour session with these writers. During my year in this class, one of the writers was the venerable Susan Sontag.  I can remember that Sontag talked about her love of reading and the fact that she hoped to read every day of her life, including the day she died.  I can remember relating to those words even though I clearly understood that Sontag did not read anything low brow. I am sure she would have a great deal to say about chick lit and the usual fare in women's fiction, as well as the fact that our society is so under read.  I am thinking of this story as I grapple with my own tastes in books. I read an account recently of a Phd student in literature who said the program took the joy out of reading for her. I cannot imagine that.  I know I haven't read enough of the classical works of English literature.  And yet, here I am reviewing beach reading. I am not embarrassed. One of  my friends from college said I taught her to be comfortable with reading chick lit.  I have never been ashamed of my reading interests, and I suppose I am not going to start being embarrassed now.  And yet, if I were to consider writing my own novel, I would want it to be literary as well as entertaining to read.
I picked up this book and another as my reading fare for a 3 and half hour train ride.  I had read most of the selection at the small bookstore in the station.  And here is the wonderful thing about this novel: it completely drew me in and entertained me greatly.  I guess my whole point is that sometimes all a reader needs is an entertaining book that makes you keep reading. I love beautiful language, but it isn't always necessary.

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