The Hampton Classic is back, Labor Day Weekend is upon us, and our friends at Books & Books in Westhampton Beach are in the spirit with three books—a moving look at life during wartime, a novel driven by the power of grief, and a great short story collection—that are great end-of-summer reads and sure to be classics in their own rights.
To the End of the Land by David Grossman
To the End of the Land is a book of mourning for those not dead, a mother’s lament for life during a wartime that has no end in sight. At the same time, it’s joyously and almost painfully alive, full to the point of rupture with the emotions and the endless quotidian details of a few deeply imagined lives. Grossman builds an overwhelming portrait of, as one character says, the “thousands of moments and hours and days” that make “one person in the world,” and of the power of war to destroy such a person, even—or especially—when they survive its cruel demands.
Quiet Chaos by Sandro Veronesi
In Veronesi’s absorbing second novel translated into English, Italian television executive Pietro Paladini saves a woman from drowning at the exact moment his wife, Lara, suddenly dies. After the unexpected death, he becomes enveloped in a strange calm, and he spends each day outside his daughter’s school, observing the quiet rhythms of life. Beautiful and absorbing, this novel subtly explores grief as Pietro dwells in a space somewhere between sorrow and madness.
Great House by Nicole Krauss
In each of the short stories that nest like rooms in Nicole Krauss’s Great House looms a tremendous desk. It may have belonged to Federico García Lorca, the great poet and dramatist who was one of thousands executed by Fascists in 1936. We follow the stories of the people who come to own the desk as they create masterpieces with it. Crossing decades and continents, the stories of Great House narrate feeling more than fact. Krauss’s characters inhabit “a state of perpetual regret and longing for a place we only know existed because we remember a keyhole, a tile, the way the threshold was worn under an open door,” and a desk whose multitude of drawers becomes a mausoleum of memory.