The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis book cover
A shift of epic proportions is in the offing at this month. Hold onto your girdles, buckle up and prepare for some earth-shattering news: I’m no longer featuring Bestseller lists at the end of each month. Tragedy, I know. There are many reasons for this, though, so put your hankies away and try not to become hysterical about the whole business. Chief amongst these reasons is the amount of effort I put into writing these posts, which was approximately nil, or whatever’s closest to nil without being entirely docile. To call the posts a garbled stream of consciousness would be kind, rather I think we might say that my Bestseller lists fall foul of the same scathing assessment that Truman Capote once made of Jack Kerouac’s style when he suggested that it was typing rather than writing. (Incidentally, a criticism that could also be levelled at these reading plans, but fear not, like the NHS these have been ring-fenced from change, too precious to the national mood and economic buoyancy are they.) Still, if you ever find yourself in need of some inane brain-filler, then do not worry, the archive of Bestseller lists will remain online for you to peruse and disdain at your leisure.

Now then, now then – as some filthy old pervert once said – let’s get onto some actual planning. I’ve had a look out my window and the weather is, what can only be described as sunny. This has the unfortunate effect of making me hot and grumpy, but it also signals the commencement of what we in Britain like to call “Summer”. The time of year when we pasty faced Brits pack up the camper vans, trundle down to Skegness, smother ourselves in enough sun tan lotion to ensure no hint of a tan for the next seven years, and sit on the damp beach pretending to read and wondering why we didn’t book a trip to the Costa Del Sol, where it might have been hot enough to remove at least some of the thirteen layers that sit between the sun and our newly-purchased bikini. Never one to be a sourpuss, I’m getting into the spirit of things by reading what, in my own way, I consider some Summer-y books.

First up, and I think this could genuinely merit the title of a ‘summer read’ given that there is bikinied bodies and a sun-glistened swimming pool on the cover, I’m going to read Martin Amis’s The Pregnant Widow. This is one of Mart’s more recent efforts, and revolves around a bunch of spoiled sex-hungry youngsters who are holidaying in Italy in 1970, and who spend most of their time loitering around the pool and deciding how best to exploit the sexual revolution. – See, bloody Summer-y.

Next up for the sun-spangled extravaganza that will be July: Brighton Rock. Ghastly gang warfare in decrepit 1930s Britain, you say? Well now, come, let’s not be too hasty. Don’t worry about all that stabbing, else you’ll forget that Brighton was one helluva gaudy, bawdy seaside town. Plus there’s rock; it might be a great big metaphor in Graham Greene’s hands, but it’s still a staple of the British getaway, so let’s not discount it. Good, so a nice bit of Catholic navel gazing fun up second.

Now, and this one’s a bit more of a stretch, we have Lolita. There are two reasons that this is a summer read for me. Firstly, I always read it in summer, which I think we’ll all agree is reason enough for it now to be associated, universally, with sunny days from this day forward. And secondly, and perhaps more convincingly, the iconic images from the book, for me, are the early passages with little Lo frolicking in her back yard, and ‘seducing’ Humbert in the heavy summer heat before being dispatched to that most American of institutions, the Summer Camp.

Finally, and never say I don’t cater to all quarters, we have the philatelic autobiography of Simon Garfield, The Error World. Essentially, this is the author’s life in stamps, and I feel might offer inspiration for those of us who would rather be hidden in a dark room carefully ordering thoughts / collectibles / cashew nuts, than be running around in all our semi-naked glory, hitting beach balls or wolf-whistling at every passing woman / pool attendant / ice-cream man who happens to take our sun-addled fancy.

But whatever you’re up to this month, have a great one and make sure you get down to some serious reading on those sun loungers. Fawit-fawoo.

Notable Posts from June