Friday, April 23, 2010

Dear Great Book Guru. Since today April 23 is the birthday of William Shakespeare, I was wondering how you were going to celebrate and do you have a book to recommend for the occasion?
Shakespearean Student and Fan

Dear Shakespearean Student and Fan, Thanks for asking… my friends and I will be celebrating the Bard's birthday on my porch with readings and refreshments throughout the night. At some point in the evening, I will show Tom Stoppard's SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, a wonderful compilation of a number of Shakespeare's plays and in particular" Romeo and Juliet". If there is time, I will also show Orson Welles's CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT which combines the three plays in which the rascal Falstaff plays a role. Sometime during the party, I'm sure I'll turn to my favorite book of Shakespearean criticism - Marjorie Garber's SHAKESPEARE AFTER ALL. Garber offers the reader an analysis of each of the plays with emphasis on modern scholarship such as gender studies, colonialism, and character delineation. To really celebrate the birthday, get yourself a copy of one of the plays (Folger is my favorite series), watch a BBC production with captions (available at the Sea Cliff Library), and then read Garber's analysis . You will have arrived in Shakespearean paradise. Enjoy, my friend!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dear Great Book Guru, This past Saturday I had the pleasure of listening to two Sea Cliff notables on National Public Radio. First was new resident Victoria Bjorklund who was a guest DJ; she talked about her great interest in early rock 'n roll and rhythm and blues. An hour later, Frank Mullen III, whose family goes back generations here in Sea Cliff, also spoke about music but with a strong focus on his own performance background. Shortly after that, I heard a discussion of a new book on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. It sounded great but I didn't hear the title. Are you familiar with this book?
Radio Obsessive

Dear Radio, I heard Victoria and Frank's interviews too, and enjoyed them tremendously. The book you ask about is THE DEATH OF AMERICAN VIRTUE by Kenneth Gormley which I just finished reading . Gormley , a constitutional law professor , over the last few years has interviewed Bill Clinton, Ken Starr, Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, Janet Reno, Al Gore, and scores of other players in the Clinton impeachment saga. What I found most remarkable was that so many of these fierce enemies would agree to be interviewed . There were many startling pieces of information revealed in the book such as the intense power struggle existing between the Secret Service and the FBI, fueled by agents' memories of the Kennedy assassination . Along with a clear chronological account of the events leading up to the impeachment, Gormley gives us detailed portraits of main and minor characters, using their own words. Perhaps the most disturbing words were spoken to the author by Henry Hyde, who headed the House impeachment committee; when asked would he do it again, knowing all the personal attacks he would have to endure, Hyde answered, "Yes, because George W. Bush would not have been elected if we had not impeached Bill Clinton."