From National Public Radio, three reading sugggestions for the sultry days of August:
These stories are simmering with nostalgia, sultry yearning and the high hopes of endless summer evenings.
by Margaret Atwood
Set among the summer camps and rustic lakeside cottages of Ontario, Margaret Atwood's 1991 collection Wilderness Tips is anything but quaint; it has a strange surreal shimmer to it, especially tales like "True Trash" and the volume's title story. These fictions meander their way into a maze of gender-driven power plays, erotic obsessions and untold secrets, all in a manner that captures the thrillingly dark edges of pleasure and power. I first read these stories when I was 19, but with each reread, I find more and more twisted layers and quiet wisdom buried within them.
by Jim Harrison
In Jim Harrison's The Woman Lit By Fireflies, a middle-aged suburban Detroit housewife finds herself pulled by the indescribable power of an August evening in Iowa. In the middle of a long road trip, she abandons her husband at a rest stop, walking off into the endless rows of high, golden corn. What follows is an impressive, sensitive meditation on freedom found on the late summer prairie, peppered with Harrison's trademark wit and heart-on-sleeve emotion.
by Rick Bass
Rick Bass' Platte River, the second book of what became a 23-book career, features a title story that follows a group of men emotionally bruised by middle-aged ennui, on a high-stakes fishing trip in northern Michigan. As the men try their luck with trout, it becomes apparent that they are fishing not only for supper but also to add some sort of purpose to a swift, haphazard life. I read this book on the plane ride to Europe, where I was headed with a desperate desire to leave Detroit and find some kind of adventure. The longing of Bass' wild, unsteady characters seemed oddly connected to my own, in a way I'm only now beginning to understand.