Book Knowledge, Part Two
‘Bon Vivant’ Summer Reading Roundup friends and family edition
Welcome back to the Bon Vivant Summer Reading Roundup. Last week, I focused on books I reviewed for New Orleans Magazine in the past year. This week, I’m highlighting books I’ve read for pleasure in recent months, as well as a few picks from friends and family. My husband Mark got into the game with a couple of his favorite books. Offering up her recommendation of a must-read is my sister Becky, coming to us from Kentucky. Finally, my reads focus, as is so often the case, on Southern writers and New Orleans in particular. Enjoy!
Mark’s picks (as written by Mark):
What doesn’t say summer time fun like a book about the end of the world? Whether you’re new to the book, or haven’t read it since ninth grade English class, the classic Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle,” hums with hilarious and nihilistic prose. Now let’s touch feet and talk about Ice Nine, baby!
Lying on a beach, with a cold drink in hand, dreaming about Paris is as American as apple pie. Honestly, you’ve done it. Ernest Hemingway’s memoir, “A Moveable Feast,” is an ode to the City of Lights and a brutal takedown of Hemingway’s supposed “friends.” Ernest Hemingway — King of Snark.
Melanie’s sister Becky’s pick:
My sister is in love with Savannah, Georgia, so it comes as no surprise that this summer she’s revisiting her favorite book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” by John Berendt. This brilliantly told work of nonfiction reads like a well-crafted, entertaining and suspense-filled novel. It centers on a cast of Southern eccentrics and the murder of a wealthy antiques dealer’s house assistant. Some of you may have seen the movie, starring John Cusack, Kevin Spacey and Jude Law, but Becky has no use for that production and suggests you all read the book. Fun fact: Berendt curated the recently closed Ogden Museum of Southern Art exhibit, “Arthur Kern: The Surreal World of a Reclusive Sculptor.”
Roy Blount Jr., who has for many years lived part-time in New Orleans along with his with the artist Joan Griswold, released his book, “Save Room For Pie: Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations,” in March. Fake news stories, poems, limericks and essays populate the humorous homage to eating. New Orleanians will enjoy the essays that take place around town and in the couple’s long-term rental, which they purchased in the spring. Perhaps owning a piece of the New Orleans pie will inspire Blount to ruminate even more on food and whip up another batch of Crescent City centric essays. We can only hope.
In “Madam: A Novel of New Orleans,” authors Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin tell the story of the rise of a Storyville madam. Based on letters and other documents and historical records, the duo craft a fictional account of the life of Madame Josie Arlington and the creation of the red-light district and its opulent bordellos amid the backdrop of Old New Orleans.