A friend, who says her husband can eat and eat and never gain weight, found a trick to solve her own overeating. When she finishes her lunch, she begins reading aloud to him while he continues munching away.
These late-spring afternoons, we're doing the same. On the sun porch, ceiling fan whirring, a stack of books beside my plate. When I finish my one tomato sandwich (no chips), I read aloud to my husband.
Here's our recent fare:
Elizabeth Spencer's new award-winning collection of stories, "Starting Over" (Norton, $24.95), available at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library. The collection, by the way, is dedicated to Hillsborough novelist Allan Gurganus.
I like Spencer's stories and her way with the short, muscular sentence. The first story, "Return Trip," is set in the North Carolina mountains, near Asheville, and it involves, as many of her stories do, a family mystery, this one about the parentage of the college-age son of Patricia and Boyd. Is Boyd the father of this child? Or is the father a distant Mississippi cousin of Patricia's, who has driven over from Asheville for the day? I think I know, but Spencer is wickedly sly.
I've been on a Jill Bialosky kick since a friend pointed out a poem of hers, "The Lucky Ones," in a recent Kenyon Review. She lives in New York and is an essayist and memoirist as well. Again, in the CMPL, I found her "History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life" (Simon & Schuster, $24).
I've pondered the whys of suicide since 1985, when a 40-year-old male cousin killed himself in Atlanta. This book helped enormously.
When I mentioned the book to a friend, she loaned me a copy of the anthology Bialosky edited with Helen Schulman, "Wanting a Child: Twenty-two Writers on Their Difficult but Mostly Successful Quests for Parenthood in a High-Tech Age" (Farrar Straus, $13 paper). These essays (including one each by Bialosky and Schulman) are not light reading. Our hearts have staggered through three now, and I must say that Philip Lopate's "Lake of Sorrow" is probably one of the most poignant and wrenchingly beautiful essays I've ever read.
Next on the stack: Just out in a Norton paperback, "Dirty Love," a collection of stories by Andrew Dubus III, author of the bestselling "House of Sand and Fog." About a year ago, I listened to his memoir "Townie" on audio book and would probably follow his hot trail of words up and over any mountain.