Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dear Great Book Guru,
With the 2010 Christmas blizzard , I have been pretty housebound and am eager to get into a good book. The Sea Cliff Library is right down the block so give me some suggestions and I will be out the door in a minute. Snowbound Lover of Books

Dear Snowbound, What a great week to catch up on some good reading! Last week I was at a delightful Winter Solstice party with Lorraine Garry, a reader extraordinaire and she mentioned a favorite of hers (and mine) -CHARMING BILLY by Alice McDermott. McDermott grew up on Long Island so many of her books are set in Brooklyn and Queens -always with a strong Irish-American flavor. CHARMING BILLY is told from the perspective of a young girl about a family myth- a cousin so charming, so handsome, so tragic that he wins the hearts of all who meet him, but a man who is also a melancholy, defeated alcoholic . Billy's entire adult life is built on a lie- a lie told to him to ease a painful moment. Decades later when the truth is revealed, nothing changes- Billy and a host of other great Queens Irish- American characters continue to live their lives of quiet desperation and at Billy's wake, where the novel opens, new lies are told and a new generation of storytellers take over the task of "getting" things right.
Talking about getting things right- since 2000, Larry Gordon has gotten the Sea Cliff New Year's Eve bonfire just right. At around 11:30pm people from all over begin to gather at Clifton Park; at midnight, the bonfire is ablaze and 2011 begins! This is a simple, very moving ceremony that I encourage all of Sea Cliff to attend.

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