Staying for a week with chums on the Jersey Shore, we packed Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, Dianne Hales’s La Bella Lingua, and we Kindled Spies of the Balkans, the new Alan Furst. Rachman’s book has attracted lots of reviews and attention. It’s pretty slim, we think, keening for a lost world of reporting in Rome, and if you are soft on newspaper types, it will bring a tear to your eye. We weren’t particularly moved. A little more Rome, a little less editorial anguish would have gone down smoother. The Hales was a case of finishing up a book we had been squeezing in between emails in the office. It’s a love letter not just to Italian but to Italianness, and quite pleasant. We have a large linguistic lobe in our ancient brain and we could have used more historic language analysis than we got, but didn’t regret any of the time spent on medieval gossip. The Alan Furst was, of course, perfect. He just bangs those fascist nightmares out like Scarlatti banged out Sonatinas. The setting this time is Salonika, which we always wanted to see anyway and now pine for.
Ocean City, if you’re interested, is bliss.