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What I’m reading this summer

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‘‘I am rereading Thomas Mann’s ‘The Magic Mountain.’ I am fascinated by the way Mann interlinks all sorts of levels of meaning—science, myth, philosophical debate, X-rays, and medicine—into what was originally designed to be a comic companion novella to the tragic ‘Death in Venice.’’’
—A.S. Byatt, author of ‘‘Little Black Book of Stories’’

‘‘I have a number of things on the go: I’m rereading [Saul] Bellow’s ‘The Dean’s December.’ I’ve just finished a proof of three interlinked stories by Alice Munro from her new collection. Also [Richard] Dawkins’ ‘The Ancestor’s Tale’ and Paul Fussell’s ‘The Boys’ Crusade: The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe, 1944-1945.’’’
—Ian McEwan, author of ‘‘Saturday’’

“Gregory Curtis’ ‘Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo.’ A fascinating chronicle of the discovery of the broken statue in a farmer’s field on the Greek island  of Melos and then of the acrimonious international battles over its ownership and artistic history and form. A scholarly detective tale with a flamboyant cast of characters.
—Camille Paglia, author of ‘‘Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World’s Best Poems’’

‘‘I’m into an advance reading copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Haunted.’  No doubt he’s become the new Vonnegut, in terms of social criticism, but with a bitter, brutal edge that’s right for the times.
—Stewart O’Nan, author of ‘‘The Good Wife’’

‘‘I’m reading a book called ‘A Short History of Tractors’  [in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka]—it’s a novel. It’s a real title, I swear!
—Nick Hornby, author of ‘‘The Polysyllabic Spree’’

‘’Happy Baby’ by Stephen Elliott. With the character of Theo, Stephen Elliott jars you out of whatever daily stupor you may have a tendency to fall into, and offers up a sweet soul in need of your immediate care and attention.’’
—Alicia Erian, author of ‘‘Towelhead: A Novel’’

‘‘I’m reading [‘De Kooning: An] American Master,’ the biography of Willem de Kooning, [by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan]. If you care at all about modern, contemporary or American art, it’s a great book.’’
—James Frey, author of ‘‘My Friend Leonard’’

(Compiled by John Freeman)

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