Thursday, November 26, 2009

Great Book Guru II

Dear Great Book Guru, Sea Cliff is so beautiful this time of year with all those colorful leaves falling and swirling about. Do you have any books that bring this time of year to mind? Fall Fancier

Dear Fancier, Just today I was walking through the back streets of the Village, when I came upon a friend vigorously raking leaves. Quizzing him, I said," Charles, what book does this scene remind you of?" Quickly, he answered, " A FEW GREEN LEAVES by Barbara Pym." This book , a favorite of mine, is most appropriately read in late autumn . Pym writes of a small, unrestored medieval village just aside of present day London. A young author of romance novels retreats to the small village to find new sources for her next book. Her neighbors include eccentrics, , rectors, a restaurant reviewer, a gerontologist, a television celebrity, and a local historian among others. In creating these perfect miniatures, Pym offers us a glimpse of a village that is touched by time ever so lightly but ever so empathically. In its architecture and topography it is is of another age but the lives of its citizens are very much impacted by contemporary issues. Written with Pym's usual attention to small, humorous, character-defining details , this novel is a joy to read. Of all her works , this most reminds me of Sea Cliff.

Great book Guru I

Dear Great Book Guru, Do you have a favorite author and if so a particular work to recommend? Looking for the Best of the Best

Dear Looking, How can I answer this? It is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. Favorite restaurant-easy: Nizza in NYC; favorite opera: Mozart's Marriage of Figaro; favorite spot in the world: SeaCliff, NY, but a favorite author- impossible! However I do have many writers whose works I love and Anne Tyler is one of these. She has written 17 novels over 30 years and a new one is coming out next month. Her novels are similar in that they feature quirky, loveable families dealing with crisis and change over an extended period of time. Her latest novel Digging to America(2006) is about two very different families who share a common experience- the adoption of daughters from Korea. The Donadsons, a boisterous Baltimore family, and the Yazdams, whose reserved matriarch Maryam came to America from Iran 35 years and still feels very much the outsider, form an ongoing friendship which we come to observe in much detail as the girls grow and celebrate the milestones of childhood. The families follow radically different parenting styles with the Donalsons choosing a Korean name, clothing and language classes for their daughter while the Yazdans name their daughter Susan and envelop her in American culture. The title comes from the attempts of both families to find meaning or "roots" in their lives. I have loved all of Tyler's novels and would recommend any of them.