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JULY 31

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Another employee-benefits-consulting goof-off tale: After my co-“workers” and I had concocted a list of “most disgusting yogurt flavors” (winner: mayonnaise, beef, and raisin), we set to work on a collection of “most inappropriate children’s-party themes.” This time the victor—or so I’d like to think—was “The Cork-Lined Room: Proust and Reverie.” Alas, I soon found out that while Calvino, Fussell, and, yep, this paper make for easy underdesk reading, Remembrance of Things Past does not. Consequently, while my 40 percent-read Volume 1 is dogeared and flecked with the decaying rubbery lining of my soft-sided briefcase, Volumes 2 and 3 remain uncracked. But if RoTP can’t be finished, perhaps it can be made useful. The garcon de maman who took the sedentary life lying down is given a crack at Choprahood by semilocal writer Alain de Botton in How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a Novel. Under the headings “How to Suffer Successfully,” “How to Open Your Eyes,” and so forth, de Botton dispenses nuggets of Proustian advice and offers a thankfully condensed literary biography. “Read the great books first,” enjoined whichever transcendentalist I can’t recall. “Read the short great books before that,” rejoined my friend Eric. De Botton’s slim, amusing, enlightening effort may not qualify under the strict requirements of either motto, but time is on its side. The author reads and signs at 7 p.m. at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-5495. (Glenn Dixon)