Monday, May 14, 2018


Dear Great Book Guru,  I am decluttering my house in anticipation of the annual Village-wide Garage Sale here in Sea Cliff on Saturday, June 2.  I’ll be dropping my used books off at the Main Library after May 21 but I would love to have something to read now- perhaps a short novel on a current topic…
Avid Declutterer                   
Dear Avid Declutter, Congratulations on your determination and I do have a good book for you: THE PARKING LOT ATTENDANT by Nafkote Tamirat.  This debut novel opens in a utopian community where our unnamed narrator is living with her father. Neither father nor daughter is welcome and quickly the story line switches back to Boston where they had been living until forced to flee under mysterious circumstances.  The narrator had immigrated to Boston as a fifteen year old. To her father’s dismay, she is drawn to the charismatic Ayale, a parking lot attendant who is the unofficial king of Boston’s close knit Ethiopian community.  Soon it becomes evident that Ayale is a sinister force but this makes him all the more attractive to the young girl.  By the time she realizes the full extent of his plans, she has become totally complicit. This is a coming of age novel, a look into the loneliness of the immigrant, a study of fatherhood, and ultimately a darkly compelling mystery…..highly recommended!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018



Dear Great Book Guru,  We are planning a family celebration for Mother’s Day this Sunday.  It will be brunch, a play, and then dessert at our favorite local restaurant.  Whenever we get together, conversations always turn to books we are reading.  I have time this week to begin something good for discussion- preferably non-fiction.  Any recommendations?  
Mother’s Day Celebrant
Dear Mother’s Day Celebrant,  I just finished reading a wonderful book: AFTER LINCOLN  by A.J. Langguth I think you will enjoy and find much in it to discuss.  The book is divided into twenty chapters each devoted to one character ( Charles Sumner, Rutherford B. Hayes…)  or topic (Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow….) all of which come together to  show the tragic and avoidable aftermath of the American Civil War- when the rights of freed black men and women were taken away by greed, cowardice, and malfeasance.   After Lincoln’s assassination, efforts were made by some to right the wrongs of slavery but to little avail.  It was not until 1964 when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act did the protections purposed one hundred years before came into effect.   The individual tales of the heroes and villains that made up the famous “team of rivals” make for a fascinating albeit troubling read. Highly recommended!

Monday, April 30, 2018



Dear Great Book Guru,  One of my favorite Spring event is coming up this weekend:  the Sea Cliff Beautification Committee Plant Sale at St. Luke’s, Saturday, May 5 .  SCBC does so much to beautify the Village and their plants are always the best!  Afterwards, I’ll have time for a good book.  Do you have something fun – a novel, please ...   
Fan of Flowers

Dear Fan of Flowers, I just finished BIG GUNS by former U.S. Congressman Steve Israel.  The story opens in Chicago where a massive, out of control citywide gunfight has erupted.  The scene quickly changes to a small village on Long Island where a well-known billionaire gun manufacturer has a summer home.  The politics of national and local governments converge when an ambitious young congressman introduces legislature to make gun ownership mandatory for every citizen over the age of four.  The  Village mayor takes up her own  fight and the battle lines are drawn.  The premise is of course absurd but the politics of lobbying, special interests, and tribalism are certainly not. Israel brings his government experience to the scene which is alternately horrifying and hilarious.  Clearly a biting satire, this tale of politics gone awry is a fun read and will resonate even more with those of us living in New York on Long Island in a small village.  Highly recommended!

Monday, April 23, 2018


Dear Great Book Guru,  April is coming to an end and I have lots of plans for the coming months.   High on my list is to read a worthwhile book every week.  I do love a good novel especially with contemporary overtones.  Any suggestions? 
A Resolute Reader
Dear Resolute Reader,  AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones is an excellent book to begin your regimen.  Celestial and Roy are a newly married African-American couple living the American Dream. He is the child of the Old South – he grew up in a small Louisiana town that he left the day he graduated from high school. Armed with his “first generation” scholarship to Morehouse College, Roy saw himself headed for success on all fronts. Celestial was a city girl from Atlanta with highly educated urbane parents. Together they see a future of unlimited potential until…. Roy is arrested and imprisoned for a crime they both know he did not commit.  The rest of the book recounts the damage done to them by a justice system weighed heavily against black men and their families.  Told partly in letters from  Roy and Celestial, the novel reveals the disbelief,  pain, and anger the couple  feel as they come to realize the empty promise for them of the American Dream.  Highly recommended!

Monday, April 16, 2018


Dear Great Book Guru,  This weekend I will be attending my family’s annual Duck Hunt- rubber duckys, of course…. It will be great fun and I will see my siblings and lots of cousins,  all of whom are avid readers. The question of the day will be what have you read lately? Do you have a book I can offer to the group? From A Family of Readers
Dear From A Family of Readers,  It’s April so that means the latest Donna Leon novel has arrived.   Her TEMPTATION OF FORGIVENESS is the newest in her Venice literary mysteries. As in the past,  Inspector Brunetti faces a series of dilemmas that often have little to do with real criminality.  Rather his is the struggle of a moral man living in a world of great moral complexity.  There are few villains in Leon’s books but instead men and women who are dealing with issues that refuse to have simple outcomes. In this latest novel, it is the terrible consequences of the too kind heart that Leon presents to us - set against the ever beautiful, ever mysterious Venice.   Highly recommended!
Another work you might consider is Sea Cliff author Margaret Gay Malone’s recently published CHOICES OF THE HEART. Malone writes a multi-generational novel set over two continents and many decades with many fascinating plot developments.

Monday, April 9, 2018



Dear Great Book Guru, Saturday April 14 is opening day for Sea Cliff Baseball and Softball with its traditional parade down Sea Cliff Avenue.  We are great fans of the Artful Dodgers and will be cheering them on all season. When the parade is over, I would like to read a book that will help me understand some of the pressing issues of the day.  I am up for a challenge. 
Fan of the Artful Dodgers
Dear Fan of the Artful Dodgers,  This weekend I read a lengthy, disturbing history of racist ideas in American: STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING  by Ibram X.  Kendi. This National Book Award Winner traces racism in America by focusing on  five  intellectuals whose lives span colonial times  up through the present: the Puritan minister Cotton Mather; Thomas Jefferson;  fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison;  philosopher W.E.B. DuBois; and anti- prison activist Angela Davis. Kendi maintains that racist ideas were and continue to be manufactured to justify racist policy.   The title comes from a speech Jefferson Davis- future president of the Confederacy- made before the US Senate claiming that “the inequality of the races was stamped from the beginning.” A most readable and rewarding book- highly recommended!

Monday, April 2, 2018


Dear Great Book Guru,  Looking out the window on this snowy day, I wonder if spring is really in the air, but with schools closed and so many fellow Sea Cliffers out of town, I do have time to get into a good book. Any thoughts? 
Springing into a Good Book
Dear Springing into….,  I just finished an interesting novel we will be discussing at my  April book club meeting: THE FRIEND by Sigrid Nunez.  The unnamed narrator is a writer who has recently lost her best friend and mentor and- unexpectedly- inherits his enormous Great Dane.  At two hundred pounds and a standing height of seven feet, Apollo moves into the woman’s tiny rent-controlled apartment despite a very strong no-pet clause in her lease. Suspense builds as she navigates the world of New York City real estate with a very clever outcome.   The narrator recounts in beautiful prose her thoughts on mourning, loyalty, solitude, and death.  At times she seems dangerously obsessed with the dog’s well-being, but we soon see the redemptive powers of this human- canine relationship. The book opens with a Nicholson Baker quote “The question any novel is really trying to answer is, ‘Is life worth living?’ ” - our narrator attempts throughout to do just this. Highly recommended!