While on a recent trip to Austria, I grabbed a copy of Amor Towles’ The Rules of Civility. My brain was a bit fried from so much German, that I popped into an international bookshop with not much of an idea of what I would find. I perused the shelves and didn’t really see anything until I came upon it. I remembered the title from a then-recent post over at Literary Man. So, I snapped it up and was happy to have a new book to read as I next traveled to Berlin.
It is more than an ode to New York. The main character is the 25-year-old native New Yorker, Katey Kontent, who on New Years Eve in 1937, meets the enticing Tinker Grey. What comes is the next year of Katey’s life as she moves around the city with new jobs and new friends. The dialogue is snappy and the author makes sure to add an authenticity to the story by dappling the text with vogue establishments and trends of the time. One of my favorite lines was,
“Doesn’t New York just turn you inside out.”
It is repeated a few times and that is exactly was happens throughout the novel. The Rules of Civility was a real page turner and great relief to my brain which has been thinking German for too long. I popped in to a bookshop today with an international section. I won’t reveal what the novel is yet but it is British and it’s incredibly addicting.
post script Many apologies for my horrid grammar and syntax; I’ve been losing my language skills recently but this book is a must read!
Regardless of the fact that when I would see Gore Vidal on television in recent years , he wasn’t looking in the best of health, he was still as quick a wit as ever. A few months ago, he was the opening guest on Real Time with Bill Maher where Maher showed a video of Vidal as a 10 year old boy in a commercial with his father about aviation.
In the long and detailed obit that the New York Times published today, they wrote,
Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent. He published some 25 novels, two memoirs and several volumes of stylish, magisterial essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas and screenplays. For a while he was even a contract writer at MGM. And he could always be counted on for a spur-of-the-moment aphorism, putdown or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy.
Unfortunately, there seems to be very few people left who will write or comment publicly their opinions¹ without pussyfooting around, retracting, or apologizing for fear of the ridiculous kangaroo court that has been setup in the past couple of decades. I remember when William F. Buckley died a few years ago, Vidal wouldn’t even give a dead man a break, ”I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred.”
¹ After re-reading this, I remembered that there are plenty of people who do voice their opinions publicly (cough michelle bachman cough cough), but I meant people who are at least a couple rungs up from glow worm on the ladder.