There’s still a week left to the last long month of true summer, and Like Fire is pleased to bring you The Tomes of August. Which, naturally, must start with…
The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman
This hour-by-hour account of the first month of what then was the Great War, which we now call World War I, is a rare achievement that blends fact, detail and research with abidingly fine narrative power. History for the ages, indeed.
But—why not start with:
Light in August by William Faulkner?
Because it’s my list and I’m not big on Faulkner. Yes, I understand that constitutes a literary flaw that undermines my bookish credibility, but my cat adores me.
English, August: An Indian Story by Upamanyu Chatterjee
The coming-of-age novel of an Indian slacker. It’s witty, sly and particularly delectable about privilege in the Third World. It’s also a NYRB Classics edition, which is literary lingo for “finest kind.”
Snow in August by Pete Hamill
It’s Hamill, so you know there’s a baseball game in there and that’s more than all right in this case. A bursting-at-the-seams story of an Irish lad and an Eastern-European rabbi, both in postwar Brooklyn. Plus there’s a miracle—and so is this novel.
July and August by Nancy Clark
Clark has a gift for rendering eclectic New England summers we only can dream about. She does it very well and with particular style and insight. Every time she writes a book, I want to go to the family manse (there always is one). It annoys me I can only go there through her pages and not in fact. Dammit.
Hiroshima by John Hersey
August 6, 1945. Hiroshima, Japan. The first city to be incinerated by an atomic bomb.
August by Judith Rossner
New York City isn’t Paris, but that doesn’t mean you get to consult your psychotherapist during the month of August in that great metropolis because… you can’t. You can read all about it in this tome, though, which, likely is too kind to both protagonists, but a dandy tale nonetheless.