Monday, June 20, 2011

The Summer 2011 Reading List

So this is how it happens: someone in a partnership needs to do the driving. Someone needs to make the decisions. Someone must, as it happens, make things happen. There are, at moments in life when living through your days grifting and drifting, that you must trust your accomplice implicitly and completely. My accomplice, worth mentioning here, is someone I trust completely. She does the driving. I mean that she does the driving in life only because when we're in the car, I am always at the wheel. It's all a give and take.
So, in life, she is the one in charge. For instance, I was talking to my buddy Mike the other day and he asked about my living situation. “I live with Janice,” I said. He asked about the rent. “Well, I give Janice $700 a month and she takes care of everything.” Later, he asked about cellphone plans. “What's your plan like?” he asked. Again, I said, “I give Janice $700 a month and she takes care of everything.” “You're a lucky man,” he said. And yes, yes I am a lucky man.

We're set up in life, my accomplice and I. We got jobs. We drive a car (only occasionally) and we live in a beautiful apartment building in the southwest neighborhood just off downtown Portland. We live in luxury by 1951 standards and now, sixty years later, we still live in luxury. Just to the east of us is downtown Portland where we both go everyday and prospect for gold. Just to the west of us, and I mean only one block west, is the beautiful Washington Park complete with the world famous Rose and Japanese Gardens. To the north and seen outside of our sixth floor window is the Knob Hill neighborhood which is my favorite place on Earth. The shipping yards on the Willamette River are in the distance and Washington state just beyond that. We make fun of Sarah Palin daily with the view. Sarah Palin may well see Russia from her house, but we see Washington. I doubt either the Russians or the Washingtonians are up to no good these days, but from the comfort of our living room I can keep an eye to the goings on of the latter.

What does this have to do with Janice doing the driving? And furthermore, what does this have to do with the summer reading list?

First off, we live where we do because Janice picked it out. She did a good job. The place is beautiful.

Second, the reading list? Well, it has to do with where we live. Our building, The Vista St. Clair, was built in 1951. The same people have been been taking care of it since. It's very well maintained. Stepping into the lobby you really so feel like you just stepped into the mid-century. It's posh and it's classy and most importantly, it's clean.

As I chose my reading list, I chose mid-century novels. I figured I'd start with 1925 and end in 1975 since those fifty years really do classify as mid-century. The Painted Veil begins the set in 1925 and Looking for Mr. Goodbar reigns us in at 1975.

When Janice asked me how I choose my reading lists I said “at random.” This has been the case until now. “Mid-century books,” I said. “Yeah, but why these?” she asked.

Good question.

I chose these by looking at the best seller lists for the years in study. I chose books that I knew were important for their time. I also chose books I know are readily available at my local library, and that's that.  And here it is:
The Painted Veil—W Somerset Maugham
Lost Horizon—James Hilton
A Tree Grow in Brooklyn—Betty Smith
Lolita—Vladimir Nabokov
Lady Chatterly's Lover—D.H. Lawrence
Valley of the Dolls—Jacqueline Susann
Looking for Mr. Goodbar—Judith Rossier

Who cares how or why, right? Pick some novels, make a study of it and enjoy; that's all a reading list needs to be. For me, well, we'll see how it works out.

As always, good luck and happy reading.

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