Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dorian At The Beach

I've seen so many great suggestions for beach and poolside reading now that summer is here.  After looking at several lists, I'd like to make my own recommendation:

My first encounter with this novel was during one of my summer vacations in high school.  I got it from a list of 5 "great" summer reads in Seventeen magazine.  Back then, I did everything Seventeen suggested.  For example, if they proposed that the perfect movie date outfit was a fluffy white sweater, a red plaid skirt, white tights and black Mary Janes, I was all over it, even though denim was de rigueur in 1970s southwest Oklahoma.

I don't remember what the other 4 books were.  The Picture of Dorian Gray jumped out at me so I dutifully found a copy at the local library, put it in my bag with my beach towel and suntan oil and went off to the pool.  I lay on my towel and read the whole book in one afternoon, pausing only to jump in the water when I got too hot.

The Picture of Dorian Gray was so engrossing, I forgot to reapply the suntan oil after my first couple of trips into the pool, and ended up with a blistery sunburn that stretched my skin painfully tight and turned me the color of Barney for about a week. Nevertheless, I have only fond memories of this novel, and consider The Picture of Dorian Gray quintessential beach read.

 If you should make the same mistake I did, the 1945 movie version would be a nice distraction while you're lying around slathered in aloe vera gel and knocking back the ibuprofen.


Ariel said...

I first read (and really enjoyed) DORIAN in college, in a class on Aestheticism. After I ploughed through it with great enthusiasm, my professor began his lecture by saying, "I think we should start by acknowledging that this is in fact a very *bad* book."

This was a revelatory moment of readerly anxiety for me - the first time I ever turned on my own instincts and thought, "Wait, am I incapable of telling the difference between a good book and a bad one?". I was haunted by that same feeling all through grad school.

(Years later I just think, Sigh. What a waste of time it is to try to place every book I read on an aesthetic hierarchy!)

Bybee said...

Of course now we'd tell your prof to shove it, right? I've had the same kind of experiences.

raidergirl3 said...

OMG, Seventeen. I remember that as a bible as well.

Unruly Reader said...

This is fabulous. My book club is discussing Dorian this weekend, and I'm definitely going to fling out the idea of it as a beach book. I can see it, actually...