Yes, “books to read this summer” lists are proliferating on the internet to a staggering degree — our own “Summer Reading List For Wretched Assholes” notwithstanding. However, few lists address the importance of a single season quite like this one by Carrie Mullins at Electric Literature, which takes a look at 11 novels that take place during one summer.
Looking for something to watch this weekend? Got Hulu Plus? Well, start working your way through the veritable treasure trove that is the Criterion Collection. And don’t worry. If you’re as overwhelmed by the selection as I am, this top ten list by filmmaker Dean Peterson can serve as a great guide. Also, for what it’s worth, I’m partial to Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev.
“In the 1970s it circulated among Left Bank intellectuals, including Sartre and Bernard-Henri Lévy, as an aid to productive writing. In 1981 it was listed as a controlled substance in the US and in 1986, after it was scheduled under the WHO Convention on Psychotropic Substances, it was removed from prescription sale.” The London Review of Books reviews two histories about the role of drugs in the fighting of wars, Blitzed: Drugs In the Third Reich by Norman Ohler and Shooting Up: A History of Drugs in Warfare by Łukasz Kamieński Hurst. Both pay particular attention to Captagon (the name a portmanteau of “captain” and “pentagon”), a pharmaceutical that has become common throughout Eastern Europe, the Gulf States, India, and China, and by 2014 “had become a significant source of funding for all sides in Syria’s civil war.”
“The Goldfinch is a grand nineteenth-century novel in that it is an 800-page chronicle of capitalism, a paean to the ways in which the world turns on the questions of who can or can’t pay for what, and how these abilities and inabilities mold us over time. Like the life events and relationships it depicts, it purports to be about love but is actually about money. This portrayal of twentieth century North American society is accurate, but also, just as in life, both exhausting and demoralizing.” On Donna Tartt’s latest novel. (You could also read Adam Dalva’s take on the book.)