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Happy Hour Reading


Posted May 6, 2013 by



Looking for a good read to compliment a summer happy hour? Enjoy these five classy happy hour reading selections while sipping your poison of choice, be it a Cosmo, sangria or a Shirley Temple.

1) The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath - Sylvia Plath
An encyclopedia of this mid-Atlantic muse’s anecdotes of girlhood, intellectual growth at Smith College, and world-travelling with Ted Hughes. Read for the blue-blood social hours, the summer visits to Europe, and Plath’s own observational prowess, particularly regarding 50′s chic.

2) Living Well Is The Best Revenge - Calvin Tomkins
Penned by a an undercover New Yorker socialite, this blistering memoir details the intimate affairs of expatriates living in France between the world wars. Read for the boisterous parties, paralleled only by the verve of Gatsby’s West Egg extravaganzas, and the lushly recreated landscapes of the French Riviera.

3) Harlot’s Ghost - Norman Mailer
A dark and brooding tome — and required reading for all future CIA operatives — Mailer’s self-proclaimed magnum opus details the decades spent by one Harry Hubbard embroiled in the conspiratorial, chaotic and double-crossing arena of the infamous “company.” Read for the global settings, the preppy extracurriculars (rowing, rock-climbing, etc.) and flagrantly anti-James Bond characterizations.

4) Franny & Zooey - J.D. Salinger
Considered one of the finest short fiction collections ever published, Salinger’s most heart-felt entry into the Glass family history features Franny (in the eponymous novella) meeting up with an eager boy-toy at a downtown NYC hot-spot after the “Yale” game; in part two, “Zooey,” we glimpse the odd-ball rapport between the titular protagonist and his overbearing mother. Read part one for the classy drinks and terse dialogue; read part two for the pathos and emotional catharsis.

5) The Informers - Bret Easton Ellis
Called a “post-modern Winesburg, Ohio,” this meticulous and malevolent short story collection, by bete noire of the early 90′s Bret Easton Ellis, features more of the same minimalist decadence, cynical morals and ingestion of illegal substances that made Ellis world-famous. However, unlike American Psycho, which essentially pushed every cultural button, Ellis’ first short story collection goes down smoothly. Read for the freeway meanderings, cocktail hours and sunny afternoons by the pool. Oh yeah, and the music is pretty sweet too.

featured image: Daniel Y. Go

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My name is Nick, and I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania. I am an as-of-yet undeclared English major, but for all intents and purposes that is what I study. I have been an avid reader since the second grade, and am an amateur writer (mostly of poetry, and I'm slowly but surely breaking out into prose writing.) I have several literary heroes, all of whom are writers of literary criticism. As such, writing criticism for me is both a way to appreciate art in and of itself, as well as pay homage to a wonderful tradition of free-thinking, analytic creativity.


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