From Zak M. Salih Email him at zak[AT]borderstan.com.
Well, it seemed for a few days that spring was here. And even if there are still a couple more weeks of wintery winds to tolerate, there’s no denying the fact that spring’s arrival is inevitable. Which, if you’re a book nerd, also means it’s the perfect time of year for reading outdoors.
What you need for a perfect late evening at the park (before the sun sets, naturally) or for a lazy weekend afternoon outdoors (on a bench, on a blanket, at an outdoor bar table) is a slim book: something that’s easy to carry, easy to read (while still being classy) and easy for a dedicated reader to finish in a single sitting.
Of course, you could always stick with a tried and true classic such as Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea or Melville’s Bartelby the Scrivener. But if you’re in the need for some short reads (of the non-magazine variety) to make your spring adventures a little more literary, here are some maybe-not-so-familiar suggestions.
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor: One of the 20th Century’s best short story collections, O’Connor’s tales — filled with gangsters, hucksters, preachers and other social grotesqueries — are compulsively readable and masterpieces of the Southern Gothic tradition. Think you can’t read an entire book of short stories in a day? Think again.
The Body Artist, Cosmopolis or Point Omega by Don DeLillo: For those of you eager to chew on something dense, rich and excessively postmodern, you can’t go wrong with this highly respected America author’s recent novels, all of which dabble in unrealistic dialogue, minimalist writing and grand concepts about human civilization. Are there hidden layers to these books or is it just a bunch of hogwash? You be the judge.
Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis: It’s the relatively simple story of a Nazi doctor at a concentration camp who flees to America to start a new life as a doctor. Except he’s living it entirely in reverse. Amis’s ingenious short novel not only offers a new way to think about the mundane aspects of life — it also lends an even more surreal gravity to one of the most horrible moments of the 20th Century.