Reading The Grass, by Claude Simon. This is the second time he's tried to read it--the voice is a woman speaking in long sentences. Something else he read recently that took two tries was A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster. You really get an understanding, he says, about why the Indians hated the British.

His favorite book of all time--The Secret Agent, by Joseph Conrad. He also enjoyed As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner.

This is completely irrelevant, but my friend noticed that the silverware slots in the background are labeled, from left to right, forks, clean spoons, knives. I make no judgment calls.