I believe this is a portrait of Jean Arthur, by a master of 20th century illustration art, Andrew Loomis. See the clear intensity of the colors? They remind me of autumn in L.A. This is one of my favorite times of year, the angle of the sun is lower, the weather is cooler. We’re deep into a drought so seeing deer coming down from the hills in the middle of the afternoon shouldn’t surprise me, but it always does. It’s time to pick avocados, and the orange trees are covered with fruit that will be ripe in time for Christmas.
Next week I appear at my first book club meeting and it seems to me especially fitting that the club is mostly comprised of teachers. The fall always brings back memories of school, and one English teacher in particular. Frankly, she looked Elizabethan. Rail thin, inevitably wearing a high collared dress, the papery skin on her face always covered with the palest foundation makeup, lips carmined, hair a bright unnatural red worn in tight curls like a cap on her head. Her gaze was direct and questioning, she moved her hands sparingly, elegantly, and pointedly. She’d turn her attention toward you and ask, hands palm to palm, head cocked forward, “And what are you reading?” As if the answer were vital. I loved her for it.
All the Light takes place in WWII, the world is broken; but the lives of two children—one blind and seeking, one gifted but schooled by monsters—merge with startling beauty.
Leave it to Psmith is pure Wodehouse fun, a comedy of manners set in Blandings Castle, where jewels go missing, and mates are found.
I Look Divine is a portrait drawn with a diamond edge by an author who died of AIDS in 1994. The high life of two brothers is recounted by the elder, who lives to see the younger feed on the desire of other men, and self-destruct at the first hint of age.
Okay. Really different stories, but what these books have in common is the divine clarity of the author’s prose. Beautifully, beautifully, written books.
What are you reading?