Here are a few of the amazing books I've received from publishers recently. First up is the book I'm currently reading, a novel by Francine Prose. I have fewer than eighty pages to go in Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932. This historical novel has a fascinating genesis: Prose saw a photograph by Brassai ("Lesbian Couple at Le Monacle, 1932). A little research revealed a historical oddity: the tuxedo-clad woman whose arm was protectively hugging a slinky woman in evening gown was Violette Morris, Morris was a French athlete and race-car driver who famously had an elective double-mastectomy to make it easier to fit behind the wheel of her racing car. Morris was also infamous for being a Nazi collaborator during the French Occupation. Prose fictionalizes Morris as Lou Villars. Here's what Violette Morris looked like during her racing days:
Prose tells the story of Lou Villars from several perspectives: that of Baroness Lily de Rossignol, patroness of the arts; Gabor Tsenyi, the photographer character based on Brassai, Lionel Maine, an American novelist, and several other voices, each telling his or her own particular truth. Lovers at the Chameleon Club is entrancing.
W.W. Norton sent me a copy of Andre Dubus III's story collection Dirty Love, which I can't wait to read. I absolutely loved his memoir, Townie, as well as his novel, House of Sand and Fog.
I was so excited when I was offered a review copy of Time and Again by Jack Finney. It is one of those books I have been hearing about forever, and have aways meant to read. This time-travel novel has been reissued, with illustrations and a foreword by Audrey Niffenegger. Can't. Wait.
Finally, I am super-excited about delving into John Sutherland's biography of Victorian sensation Jumbo. I've done a fair amount of reading and research on the topic of elephants, and this nonfiction book looks great.
That's what's on my reading list for the next couple of weeks. It's Monday.... What are you reading?