It took me roughly a year to decide on a name for this blog, which I’ve wanted to start for so long. Especially a name for a book blog, which the experts say should have the word book in the title. But something about this name feels right. 8 Hamilton Ave. was the address of the house I grew up in, in Princeton, New Jersey, and it still exists, though not much about it resembles the house I remember.
It was where I learned to read. And write. It was where I dragged books home from the public library every week, crawled into bed with them and lived in their pages. It was the home of a dusty hallway bookcase filled with Readers Digest editions of popular books, a set of World Book Encyclopedias, Peyton Place and Madame Bovary and Absalom, Absalom—and if it was there, I read it.
But the real reason I started this blog is because I want to have a place to talk about books and writing, and to review books that wouldn’t ordinarily end up in the newspaper that I write for. So I will jump right in. One arrived yesterday, and I know I’m going to fall hard for it: As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child & Avis DeVoto.
How do I know? Because I’ve already read three of their long, chatty letters, from Paris to Massachusetts. Julia, having read an article in Harper’s by Avis’s husband, Bernard DeVoto, about the inferior quality of American knives, has sent him one from France. Avis writes back that Bernard is too busy to reply, but she hopes Julia won’t mind her speaking for him. And their friendship begins, just like that.
It’s the ’50s, so Avis, after several paragraphs about the right kind of knives and cutlery in general, adds, “My husband, I regret to say, has snitched it for his own use—cutting the lemon peel the proper thinness for the six o’clock Martini.”
The most marvelous thing about books hasn’t changed a bit. You can still curl up with them and get lost in a world you’d never otherwise visit: Paris, France, 1952.