Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Salon: Slouching Towards March

I can't believe February is almost over. I mean, I know it's the shortest month but really? Is it really almost March? Yesterday at work I bagged the first St. Patrick's Day items of the season and Wednesday was Ash Wednesday which means Easter is coming up. And Easter means spring, so that's good, right?

I finished Alan Hollinghurst's The Swimming-Pool Library last night; it was a good book, thoughtful and rich and interesting. I'll have a full review this week. It's not one that I want to linger. I started Simonetta Agnello Hornby's The Nun, about a young girl sent to an Italian cloister against her will in the late nineteenth century. It bears some resemblance to Sarah Dunant's wonderful Sacred Hearts. I've read a few good reviews of The Nun lately and decided to get in an extra Europa Editions book this month. Next up is Three Weeks in December, by Audrey Schulman, whose event I'm going to this coming Friday evening.

Andrey Kurkov signs my book
Christopher Boucher
Speaking of book events, I went to a fabulous one this past Friday. Back Pages Books, a local indie, hosted Melville House authors Christopher Boucher (How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive) and Andrey Kurkov (Death and the Penguin; Penguin Lost; The Case of the General's Thumb). What a great night with two authors of unconventional books.

I haven't read Boucher's book yet but I know I'll get to it soon. I adored Kurkov's Death and the Penguin and look forward to the next two. I picked up Penguin Lost at the event and have The Case of the General's Thumb coming to me soon as well. I enjoyed listening to Kurkov's take on how penguins and Soviets are similar (both, he said, are used to rigid civil structures and don't know how to operate outside of their group) and thoughts on the decline of literary culture in the former Soviet countries. He noted that Novy Mir, the leading literary magazine, had, at one point, a circulation of 3 million; today it's 3,000. And he said that fully half of all the books bought in Russia are bought in Moscow. Food for thought!

Today? Who knows. I really have no idea! I hope you have a great Sunday whatever you get up to.

More Sunday Salon here.