Monday, July 17, 2006

Joanna Briscoe's beach books

The novelist Joanna Briscoe shared her "Ten Best Beach reads" with the Independent. I haven't read the majority of her choices and I heartily disagree with one (but will maintain my silence about the title since a great many readers seem to have loved it and you may well, too).

I'm linking to her list because it contains one of the great crime classics:

The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

The Italian coastal scenes, beautiful cast and sense of summer languor that disguises evil impulses make this a disturbing but gorgeous read.

"Gorgeous," yes. The movie version was gorgeous, too. Yet this novel--unlike the movie--is a piece of genius, and I pity the person who saw the movie before reading the book. That's not because the movie was awful--it had its merits, I thought--but because the book leaves readers with at least two important questions that add to the reader's appreciation.

I won't spoil the book for you haven't yet read it--you can email me (bolling dot binx at gmail dot com) if you've read the novel yet don't know what I'm talking about--but the movie should have embraced the ambiguity around these questions. Audiences would have walked out of the cinema and been talking about the film for weeks, the critics would have treated it better, and the producers would have made a lot more money.

Click here for a link to the Village Voice's best beach books.

Click here for a post containing Scott Turow's 2006 beach books.

Joanna Briscoe is the author of Mothers and Other Lovers, which won the Betty Trask Award; Skin, which was runner-up for the Encore Award; and Sleep With Me.

--Marshal Zeringue