Sunday, April 19, 2009
A few years ago, lying by a hotel pool in Spain, I suddenly realised everybody around me was German. This struck me as embarrassing because my holiday reading on this occasion was Primo Levi's Auschwitz memoir If This Is a Man. I was holding the book high to shield my eyes from the sun. The Germans were thus having their precious downtime spoiled by a rather gross reminder of their guilt. Here in Miami I find myself once again reading The Wrong Book. I won't tell you what it is because I am writing about it but, suffice to say, it is hardback, very fat and possessed of an unusually depressing title. This, to say the least, clashes with the local style of 'movies and laughter, sex and fun' (Ashbery, The Skaters). I was sitting, immersed in this very good book, at a very trendy bar at which everybody was preparing to have life-changing sex with everybody else. The barman stared at me in dismay and then at the book.
'How long it take you to read a book like dat?'
'Er, about a week.'
He shook his head in wonder.
'I never read a book.'
But why should he? Life, for him, seemed good.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 11:53 am