Who's asking: Regina of the Toadstool Bookshop in Milford, NH, at last weekend's New England Booksellers Association convention
I don't think any serious reader can answer this question. I just looked at Regina and shrugged. "I don't know," I said. "It changes."
"I can't answer that question either," she said.
"I mean, if you put a gun to my head and said I could only take one book for the rest of my life, it would probably be House of Mirth by Edith Wharton," I added.
"For me, it's Turn of the Screw by Henry James," she said. "You can talk about it forever."
I found that very interesting, because it -- sort of -- confirmed my theory that every serious reader must ultimately take sides between Henry James and Edith Wharton. I admire Turn of the Screw, but have never felt any need to reread it; I read House of Mirth at least once a year, and I cry every time. I've said here before that I find Edith Wharton compassionate, and Henry James not.
Any Henry James fans out there who want to speak on his behalf?
Congratulations and best wishes to the Bragdons, who got wonderful news yesterday; they received the referral for their new baby boy, Seong-jin Gim, born in Korea in August. With luck, he'll be home by Christmas. He'll have a new American name, but the Bragdons haven't announced that yet.
And a very happy birthday to Miss Kaethe Schulz, who turns ten today.
First five songs off the iPod Shuffle this morning:
“Yesterday’s Men,” Madness. I make no apologies for still loving all the music I loved when I was 18.
“Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song),” Fiona Apple. I like this album (Extraordinary Machine) a lot, and I’d be interested to hear the first, unreleased version of it, which Jon Brion produced.
“There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” The Smiths. I often say that you know you’ve reached adulthood when you can’t listen to Smiths lyrics without snickering. This really is a lovely song, but the words verge on self-parody: “And if a double-decker bus/Crashes into us/To die by your side/Is such a heavenly way to die…”
“It’s All in Your Mind,” Beck. This album (Sea Change) is beautiful, and should come with its own bottle of Prozac.
“God Give Me Strength,” Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach. Oh, my goodness – it’s all misery on the iPod today. Another magnificent song about lost love. Time to find a little dance music, here…