There was much to hate about a June spent mostly in lockdown, watching the COVID numbers go up and up, so many shattering revelations and injustices. If there was any consolation to be had for all the anxiety, outrage and despair, it was found, for me, in books. Many of the books pictured here I have read many times before (Chekhov, Calvino, Sebald) but I read my favorites repeatedly because I never fail to be fulfilled, pleased, educated, startled, surprised, enlightened, gratified and satisfied by them.
The Janet Malcolm was the fourth I’d read in a series of Janet Malcolms, of which The Silent Woman and The Journalist and the Murderer were the standouts. Aase Berg was a revelation, so animistic and weird, a shaman who would bury our strange age and unearth another, stranger, but better age, which is what we all need. And in Nilling, by Lisa Robertson, whom I met once at a party in the late nineties or early noughts–the essay about Hannah Arent + De Rerum Natura + Story of O was thought-provoking. And I am still processing Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor which left me stunned.
Occasionally my favorites fail me after many years; lately my loyalty to Nabokov has faltered–though the first chapter of Speak, Memory remains perfect and peerless. Maybe my tolerance of entitled white guys is flagging, in spite of the beauty and perfection of their prose.