Winter in Taos and French Milk
There were two books I was delighted to come across this month. The first, French Milk by Lucy Knisley, is an 193 page graphic journal, mostly drawings (with handwritten captions) and about 4 dozen full-page b & w photos. It encompasses a little over a month spent in the bustle of Paris right after Christmas the year the author (comic book artist from Chicago) turned 22. It was first published in 2007. The travel details are just darling, and there is a surfeit of delicious food described and illustrated! Lucy is a bit self-absorbed and hormonal, but she realizes it, cracks (visual) jokes about it, and moves on (sort of). Winter in Taos is over 200 pages of absorbing essay, sprinkled with a dozen or so - again, full-page - b & w photos of the Mabel Dodge Luhan house and its environs. First published in 1935, when the writer, Mabel Dodge Luhan was 56, Winter in Taos is an elegant study of passing the seasons hour by hour in a landscape unequaled by the most beautifully wrought architecture of any city in the world. A good deal occurs, but in timeworn, inimitable New Mexican fashion. The cycles of the seasons may not vary much from decade to decade, but the details of daily life are nuanced and divergent. Ms. Luhan is also a bit self-absorbed and uber-contemplative (not unlike her neighbor D.H. Lawrence, or contemporary F. Scott Fitzgerald), but she realizes it, indulges it (for a second or two) and moves on (almost immediately).
On the surface you couldn't pick two books that seem more dissimilar. I quickly realized they actually have much in common. I don't want to tell you too much though --- because I really do hope that you'll stop by your library, local bookseller, or Amazon (links in the sidebar to the right, under "Look beside my bed - you'll find:"), grab copies, settle in, and see what you think. And let me know of course.