Don’t be fooled by the smell of barbecue in the air, the popping lids of iced cold beer, and all the smiling people in trunks and bikinis riding bicycles. The source of their pleasure is a scorching gaseous star emitting cancerous UV rays that want to kill them. If anything, stage a revolt this summer: Stay indoors. Defy the sun by opening all the windows and finding a good book to read.
Sure, in this age of the e-reader, a whole library can be taken with you wherever you go, including to all those sunny outdoor places, but have you ever tried to get sand out of a Kindle? Me neither, but it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. Plus, there are crowds to contend with. You’re better off in the comfort of your own home. Why throw rent away? The truth is, with the right reading material it won’t matter. Let books take you where you want to go. And why not start at the top with Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Sure it’s over six hundred pages of dense reading, but relax, you’ve got all summer! If you don’t read it now when will you ever? Plus, it’s an adventure story. Takes place on the high seas. Perfect for the season. And quit whining about difficult reading, you’re an adult now, time to put the Harry Potter down.
Okay, maybe you’ve just got something against whales (hmm…I’m telling you, you may want to check this book out!). Maybe, you get seasick easily, or I don’t know, something else, like it’s not quite the tale you’re looking for. Or maybe, like me, you’ve spent the first month of summer in a dark bar obsessing over World Cup matches and now have this giant void to fill. Sure, the Spanish may have taken the trophy from one of your favorite teams or crushed that pool you had going at work, but it’s time to give them their due. I’d start with Cervantes. And yes, I’m talking about that other great adventure story: Don Quixote. Or maybe you just can’t get over the way French people behave themselves in other countries, try l’enfant terrible Michel Houellebecq’s great novel about sex tourism, Platform (and when you get a chance, read The Elementary Particles, arguably, still the best contemporary novel out there, not to mention a newly translated collection of poems, The Art of the Struggle, to be published in the UK this August). Or how about one of these: Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Philip Roth’s The Humbling, Christopher Hitchens’s Hitch-22.
And for those farmer’s market folks who prefer to buy locally, and have already ingested John Fante’s Ask the Dust and The Road to Los Angeles as well as a number of works by Bukowski, consider some recent or forthcoming local releases: Beside the City of Angels: An Anthology of Long Beach Poetry (World Parade Books), Modest Aspirations by Gerald Locklin (Lummox Press), The Dodger’s Retirement Party also by Gerald Locklin (Aortic Books), A King of Infinite Space by Tyler Dilts (Amazon Encore), Shadow Ball: New and Selected Poems by Charles Harper Webb (University of Pittsburgh Press), Tao Driver and Selected Poems by Rafael Zepeda (World Parade Books), The Green Season by Donna Hilbert (World Parade Books), and Rise of the Trust Fall by Mindy Nettifee (Write Bloody Publishing).
And if none of that seems to do it for you, then okay: I guess there’s always sunscreen.
Clint Margrave has work forthcoming or most recently published in New York Quarterly, Pearl, 3AM, Chiron Review, as well as in the anthology At the Gate: Arrivals and Departures, published by Kings Estate Press. Currently, he teaches English and Creative Writing at Cal State University, Long Beach. Clint can be contacted at email@example.com