Tuesday, August 9, 2011

First Love and Other Sorrows


In case you have outgrown summer reading lists or already finished yours, I have a suggestion: Harold Brodkey’s short story collection “First Love and Other Sorrows”. Brodkey accomplishes a seemingly impossible feat: the stories are entertaining, extremely enjoyable to read, and, at the same time, intellectually challenging. In a non-exhausting way, which is why this is the perfect book for a vacation: You feel smart when reading it, but will not feel compelled to put it down in favor of so-called chick lit or the equivalent for guys.
Also a great idea: Enjoying it with a cup of tea and thinking of Fall
The book was first published in 1958, so the stories will take you back to the 1940s and 50s. They tell the story of youth and early adulthood; the protagonists are between 13 and 27 years old, growing older in every story.
Brodkey tells the story of a boy who wants to be loved by others but does not want to give his love first, of another who watches how is beautiful sister is courted by men and finally takes a shot at love himself, and of two Harvard boys who travel to France instead of going to college where they discover that their friendship is not as strong as they thought it was and that they are not completely unlike the people they call “doomed”.
My favorite is “Sentimental Education”, the story of a couple falling in love for the first time in college and how they try to make sense of their passions.
The last four stories describe episodes in the life of Laura, from her dating days in college until her second pregnancy in her mid-twenties.
Especially the language is beautiful, and the voice captivating. Just read this: “At that her tears started to flow, and it seemed to her that she had found one of the secret springs of sadness that water the whole world.” (excerpt from The Dark Woman of the Sonnets) I promise you, there are many similar gems. Brodkey is definitely an author I will be reading a lot more of, I cannot believe I had not heard of him before stumbling upon this book at the library.
  
What are your non-fluffy but enjoyable reading suggestions for late summer and early fall?

17 comments:

Meghan @ Wishful Thinking said...

Sounds like a beautiful story! There is nothing better than curling up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate! I am reading Wuthering Heights for the first time and I have been so captivated by the story that I have missed my train stops a couple of times!

Nikki said...

These shortstories sound so great! I want to read them now! But I still have to finish my Hunger Games Series ^^ After those series I have to read Justin Cronins 'The Passage', but only the sight of that book already scares me! It's like more than a thousand pages! Why did I ever buy it? x

Monica {bohemian twilight} said...

well the last thing i need is more for my tbr pile, lol, but you've made this sound like something i would like, entertaining but not fluff. i'll have to add it.

i don't really have 'Summer' reads, but in that category i would add Phillipa Gregory, which I discovered recently and love - very entertaining, fun reads, not intellectual at all, but not fluffy.

Lee Oliveira said...

I tried so many times to read books but it takes me forever to finish... maybe I haven't found a good one yet to be glued.
lee x

Ellone said...

Oh I haven't read this before, the title is very intriguing, I'll keep it in mind!

Baby Budget Blog said...

REALLY need to get back into reading my classics. I really do miss it! Thanks so much for the comment on my blog!

www.plentyforpennies.com

Mrs. C said...

Wow! This sounds like a fabulous book! thanks for the suggestion! My favorite reads are anything by Paulo Coelho. He's my favorite!! If you haven't read any "The Alchemist" is a classic but I love "Veronica Decides To Die", "The Winner Stands Alone" and "Eleven Minutes".

www.MrsCapretta.com
Recipes Fashion Marriage

Sam {fitnessfoodandfaith.blogspot.com} said...

sounds like a wonderful read! must add it to my list :)

CALAMITY JANE said...

i'm adding it to my "to read" list.

DoublClik said...

I'm not an avid reader but was looking for a suggestion! Thanks for the tip...

Keep taking pictures,
DoublClik Photo Blog

Katjusha sleepless in Berlin said...

thank you for your tip!!! i am always careful taking advices for books of other people because this is a thing of individual taste... but the book you suggested sonds interesting... i am a huge fan of the 40ies 50ies anyway....

greetz from berlin ;)

http://www.katjusha-dawai.com

Emma Robertson said...

Wow, sounds lovely.

xo,
Em

Katie said...

Adding this to the read list for sure! xo

Emma said...

thanks for the introduction I love short stories & the older classics forever stand the test of time

Josie said...

I love J.D. Salinger -- The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey are great!
xo Josie
www.winksmilestyle.com

Eleanor at Mirror Of My World said...

this sounds amazing. xx

According to Annika said...

Wow, thank you SO much for this great tip! I will definitely look this book up, it sounds like exactly the kind of stories I wish to read right now. Or, rather, when I'm finished with Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" - "Freedom" is one of my favorite books of all time and extremely hard to beat, but this one - though pitch-black - is just as impossible to put down. If you haven't already read it, you should absolutely do it!

Much love,
Annika