“I'm not generally a spy-fiction lover. But I do kind of like the way Alan Furst writes. I wasn't familiar with him — he mostly writes spy stories about World War II Europe, before and during the war. He has written ‘The Spies of Warsaw' and ‘Foreign Correspondent.'
“A very good, disturbing book is ‘Every Man Dies Alone.' It's written by Hans Fallada, who supposedly wrote it in 24 days. A couple in Nazi Germany resisted quietly by writing postcards; they contained subversive notes and they dropped them on sidewalks and in other public places trying to encourage organizing resistance. But instead, almost all of them were turned in to the authorities. Ultimately, the couple got tracked down. This is, as I said, a really disturbing book showing how a regime like that could lock a whole country down in fear.
“On a lighter note, I read Richard Russo's new book, ‘That Old Cape Magic.' His ‘Empire Falls' was well done — a good book — but this is not one of his best. It's about a guy whose parents are academics in a university in the Midwest, but they think they should be at Brown or some other Eastern school. So they went to the cape to hobnob with people they felt they should be with. Their son tells the story. He marries and eventually goes back to the cape for his daughter's wedding. He writes about the influence of his parents and the relationship with his wife. The book, by the way, is half the size of his others. I like other stuff he has written.
“We were visiting in Lake City, Fla., recently, and so I decided to reread ‘The Yearling,' by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I had first read it in grammar school and liked it very much. Yes, it was made into a movie, but I didn't think Gregory Peck matched my picture of the father. It is a lovely story.”