The Harrisons

I just finished reading Envy by Kathryn Harrison. Now I am reading The Havana Room by Colin Harrison. Yes, they are related. They are husband and wife and both have written a number of books. I read the most recent New York Times Sunday serial in the NYTimes Magazine by Colin Harrison and it was called “Mrs. Corbett’s Request.” It was an intriguing 15-week serial that I immensely enjoyed and looked forward to every weekend and was really sad that it ended. Colin Harrison wrote the serial from the perspective of New York lawyer working in a long time firm. Peter Young was a good guy who seems to find himself in precarious situations. In The Havana Room, the main character, Bill Wyeth, is also a lawyer who accidentally kills one of his son’s friends (it could happen to anyone the way this played out). Once again, Harrison’s character is a good guy who somehow gets into weird situations.
Envy was the second book I read recently about parents of a child who gets killed (the first was Reservation Road). I certainly did not choose this topic as I had no idea of what the book was about—only that it was fiction. Envy also happens to be a book about twins and their relationship to each other. This was just after discussing with my book club The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, also about twins. I had read it when it first came out about three years ago. The Thirteenth Tale was a very Jane Eyre-ish type of novel. Old estates in England, writers and rare books, eerie caretakers, and yes, even incest were part of the story in that book. I had heard of Kathryn Harrison’s book called The Kiss from a few years ago and knew that one was about her incestuous relationship with her real father. I had meant to look it up a read it a long time ago but never got around to it and then forgot about it. Looking at the list at the beginning of Envy of books Kathryn Harrison had previously written, I noticed that she also wrote about on the life of St. Therese of Lisieux. What a variety of subjects she has written about!
The point is that once you start reading, then the next thing you read seems to be somehow related, and the next, and the next. I am caught in a loop of death of children, twins, and incest. Yippee! But the Harrisons seem to be very good writers and I intend to read all of their books.

2015 Note: Colin Harrison sometime participates in the Mayborn Conference held each summer in July and presented by the University of North Texas Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism near the DFW Airport. I have had the pleasure of meeting him and hearing him speak. Currently he is an editor for Scribner’s.