Greetings and welcome to the It’s All Fin and Games Edition of You are What You Read.
Have you heard about the latest celeb who is hanging around the Hamptons this summer? She’s a mature woman, somewhere between 40 and 50. She has 120,000 Twitter followers. She’s a sleek 17 feet long and she’s packing about 4,000 pounds. Yes, People, the world has finally caught up with us and has discovered our beloved Mary Lee Shark.
Not only has Mary Lee gotten a spread in People but she also got a nice double column in the back of the Style section of yesterday’s New York Times. Yes, it’s official. Our Mary Lee is now a Thing.
Mary Lee is not only a pretty fin, she has led researchers to discover the location of the nursery for the great whites. Ocearch had to get an idea of where the sharks were mating and then follow them for the 18 month gestation so they could figure out where they were birthing. Turns out that mating occurs in the late fall or early winter and then birthing happens in May/June of the next year. Last May, Mary Lee went to East Hampton and sure enough, they found a whole lot of shark pups off Montauk.
I encourage all of you to download the Ocearch Global Shark Tracker on your phones and start tracking Our Girl. Mary Lee. Who is now a Thing.
This week we have Olde New York, a Bee, flashbacks, defense mechanisms, France, a mystery, and a road trip!
Sorry People. No Playlist. Maybe next week. Swim on.
Let us begin!
Fearless Leader Alan has just finished Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York by Francis Spufford. “Spufford tells the story of a mysterious stranger who comes to New York in 1746. He perhaps has a significant amount of funds, he maybe has a plan but no one knows it, and as the novel unfolds he wends his way through society and the political order, is in and out of trouble, in and out of jail, in and out of love and passion, all told in a very (almost consciously) literate style that adopts the language of the day while his background (turns out he’s quite an experienced actor) and purpose are slowly, partially, revealed. I love historical novels and I love the period, but nothing prepared me (except perhaps for the amazing number of awards this novel has already received in the UK) for how much I would be entranced. I was startled and uplifted by the ending and wish I had a chance to start it again without knowing what I do now. One of the best novels I’ve read in any number of years.”
Cathy Who Makes Things Happen is in her car. Listening. “I’m listening to Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and I love it. The voice of the daughter, Bee is so great that I laughed out loud in my car! While I am not finished yet, I’m sure there will be crying too.”
Kaitlin from the Rock is here this week! “Helllooo! I just finished reading The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. I hadn't heard of it until the TV series came out recently, and I hadn't realized she wrote the book in 1985! I'd like to watch the show, but it seemed like one where I really needed to read the book first. I'm glad I did because it definitely got me wanting more! It's the story of society in the future, after a religious dictatorship has taken control of the nation and government. The story follows Offred and her life in this world, where women are essentially trained and placed into groups based on their fertility. Offred is a handmaid, meaning she essentially serves a Commander and his wife, with the hope that she will become pregnant and give the couple a child. (Yup, it's pretty messed up). Offred reminisces about her life with her husband and daughter before the revolution in flashbacks throughout the book. If you're into dystopian worlds and haven't read this book yet, definitely check it out!”
The Always Fabulous Babs B has just finished Jackie's Girl, My Life with the Kennedy Family by Kathy McKean. “Kathy McKean was a 19-year old Irish immigrant newly arrived in New York City when Jacqueline Kennedy hired her as a personal assistant in 1964. Kathy soon became a trusted employee, helping to raise young Caroline and John and witnessing life from inside the fabled apartment at 1040 Fifth Ave. Because Kathy was always at Jackie's side, Rose Kennedy deemed her ‘Jackie's girl.’ And although Kathy called Jackie ‘Madam,’ she considered her employer more like a big sister who, in many ways, mentored her how to be a lady. Kathy was there during Jackie and Aristotle Onassis's courtship and marriage, and Robert Kennedy's assassination, dutifully supporting Jackie and the children during these tumultuous times in history. Anyone who is a Jackie O fan will eat this book up!”
J-Rae the Coolest is tackling some hard core feminism this week. “Roxane Gay has been one of my favorite authors for a while, her books have the rare qualities of being easy to read and extremely profound simultaneously. Hunger: A Memoir is the best book I’ve read in a while and here’s why: the bravery she wields when describing some of the most intimate moments will root you to your chair, flipping the pages. In it, Roxane tells the story of her fight with her body; handprints that left invisible scars, weight gain as a defense mechanism, and an ongoing struggle to love her body in a society that praises size 0. Try it, you won’t regret it. But you may weep like I did.”
Caroline actually found some space and time to read a book. You Mothers of Multiples out there understand that this triumph really deserves a parade of some kind. Here’s what broke her slump. “Surprise! I read a book. I was walking through the exhibits at ALA in Chicago when this lovely cover caught my eye. Doesn’t that look like somewhere you would want to be? A French Wedding centers around 6 college friends who are reunited for a 40th birthday weekend celebration. Max, now a famous rock star, has an amazing home in the French countryside with a personal chef, Juliette, who brings her own story into the fold. Fantastic food-writing pairs well with the deep and complex relationships in this group. A great read for this summer or any time you want to escape!”
Steph! “This week, I gave my little grey cells a workout alongside Hercule Poirot, thanks to Sophie Hannah’s Closed Casket, the follow-up to The Monogram Murders. The Christie estate granted exclusive rights to write new Poirot mysteries to Hannah, and thank heavens—she’s probably the best person to write them, short of zombie Agatha Christie. Everything about the story feels like a classic, from the unthinkably complex solution, to the poorly-behaved English nobility, to the conspicuously weird character names. (Orville Rolfe? Athelinda Playford? How does she come up with these?) Feels like meeting our Belgian friend for the first time all over again. Such a treat!”
Those of you who have seen me hobbling around this week can I understand why I have had to drive this past week. I have spent the hideous hour plus (One-way mind you. 12 miles. The mind reels) in my car with the most delightful of companions, Joan Didion’s latest on audio. South and West: From a Notebook is just what it sounds like. Joan and her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne took a road trip in June of 1970 through the American South. Didion had the vague germ of an idea that she wanted to have a look at an area where a lot of the original Californians came from. Using New Orleans as their starting point the pair bombed around the Deep South, and experienced a land that really doesn’t even feel like America. The West part of this story is from notes that she took while preparing a story for The Rolling Stone about the Patty Hearst trial in 1976. This book has rekindled my love for a woman who I consider to be one of the best writers this country has produced.