Not surprisingly, I toted a bag of books to Isle au Haut, two of which were good enough that I read them by candlelight. Both were memoirs, a genre notable in recent years for little more than gross self-indulgence, but these two, I’m pleased to say, turned out to be compelling exceptions to that dismal rule.
Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy (Free Press) is the story of Carlos Eire, a professor of religion at Yale who was a mere child when Fidel Castro took over Cuba, and who has woven his youthful memories of Havana life into a gorgeously written, unsettlingly passionate account of what it felt like for a little boy to watch his world turned inside out. George Howe Colt’s The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home (Scribner) is the story of a Cape Cod house and the family that spent its summers there, fishing and sailing and keeping unexpectedly dark secrets. It’s less intense than Waiting for Snow in Havana–Colt, after all, is a bred-in-the-bone WASP–but no less passionate or involving.
If you’re looking for a book or two to round out your summer reading, look no further.