Of course choosing a single favorite book is impossible. But I might be able to narrow it to a couple dozen, or maybe 50, and Czeth writer Bohumil Hrabal's I Served the King of England is easily in the top 20. If you haven't read it, you have to order it now. No joke.
It has to be the most unapologetically sensual book I've encountered. The words seem to smell like something, and the the evocation of texture through words is narcotic. I gave it to my father for Christmas a few years ago, and while reading me a passage he particularly liked he started crying for the sheer beauty of the thing. It's that kind of book.
The narrator is a little waiter, and it follows his life between the World Wars, during WWII and after. He works in a succession of extraordinary hotels, and finally owns his own, the most remarkable of all. But I say no more! Buy it!
These pictures from the Grand Hotel in San Moritz reminded me of this lush little book, so I present them here. They were taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1931, and interestingly focus on the staff, who exude competence and even brilliance even at a distance of 79 years.
What would I drink in 1931?
And I think I will forever be disappointed that future drinks are not served to me in this fashion:
See what I mean when I say brilliance? And they're even the life of the party:
And dear god, their tuxedos are so exquisitely cut. Who cares about stupid Tom Ford at the Oscars? But a pale shadow to the flame.
Even Icarus fell:
I must admit I only found these images while trying to track down more info on my Grandmother's favorite Nazi. Any guesses, guys? She was wicked, but boy could she skate. Look how impressed even the waiters of the Grand Hotel are; this picture captures their excitement as she glides below ...