My favorite things to do during the summer are eat and read outside—preferably at the same time, and occasionally at the beach. I’m excited to dig into the pile that’s been growing next to my desk, surefire novels by authors whose previous work I’ve loved. At the top is Rabbits for Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum, who I’ve been following since reviewing her debut novel, On Mermaid Avenue, many years ago.
That book would also be perfect for beach reading if you can find a copy; here’s what I said in New York Newsday in 1992: “Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island is home to the Cyclone, a roller coaster which may not be the world's tallest or most technologically advanced but which continues to delight riders with its sheer precariousness.…To Edie and Monarose, the best friends who are at the heart of Mermaid Avenue, a ride on the Cyclone is the ultimate expression of their philosophy: Aim for the stars and don't look down.” I’ve never managed to get on the Cyclone myself, watching both my mother and my son ride it over the course of decades; I’d rather sit on the beach with my book. But I loved reading about Kirshenbaum’s intrepid women and look forward to meeting the characters in Rabbits for Food. Our reviewer says that “Kirshenbaum is a remarkable writer of fiercely observed fiction and a bleak, stark wit; her latest novel is as moving as it is funny, and that—truly—is saying something.”
Another thing I’ve never done is read Elizabeth Gilbert’s pre–Eat, Pray, Love fiction, but I loved her last novel, The Signature of All Things.Our reviewer calls her new City of Girls “a big old banana split of a book,” which surely makes it the perfect thing to throw in my beach bag next to Rabbits for Food on the way to Coney Island. Happy reading! Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.