Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru,  I had such fun at the Silly Shakespeare Company's production of Julius Caesar at Sea Cliff Beach and I heard the cast party back at Billy Long's Metro Bistro was spectacular.  The Sea Cliff Civic Association is to be commended for sponsoring yet another event which so enriches the life of the Village.   While at the performance, I overheard someone mention a prolific Norwegian author who writes psychological thrillers of high literary quality. Do you know who she is ?   Seeker of Literary Thrills

Dear Seeker,  I am glad you mentioned Metro Bistro- next Tuesday, October 2  at 7pm- Billy is hosting  a Sea Cliff first: Trivia Night, and apparently there will be great prizes. But back to Karin Fossum- yes, she is the author you heard being discussed.  I just finished her latest: THE CALLER.  We find out quickly that the caller/prankster is Johnny Beskow , a young boy damaged by  a troubled alcoholic mother. More compelling are the stories of his victims- a young couple with an adored baby daughter who end up rethinking their marriage, a middle-aged couple  valiantly coping with Illness who give into despair, a spry older woman whose  premature obituary steals her joy in life.  The book underscores how a small act of cruelty can easily destroy our sense of  security, and the devastating impact this has on our lives. A good but troubling read!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru,   I will be at Sea Cliff Beach this weekend for the Silly Shakespeare Company's encore performance of "Julius Caesar" (Saturday, 6pm). I plan to get there early because this performance should attract a huge audience.  While I 'm waiting for the show to start, I'll need something good to read. Any ideas- I'm thinking non-fiction….?   Shakespearean Scholar Sitting by the Sea

Dear Sitting by the Sea,   What fun! Spooky Park's Shakespeare was great but I think Sea Cliff Beach might be even a better venue. I do have a good book for you: THE VIOLINIST'S THUMB by Sam Kean.  It starts out with an interesting history of DNA research from 1860 to the present with mini bios of Gregor Mendel, LI's own Barbara McClintock, and Charles Darwin  among many others, but then takes a spectacular turn with each subsequent chapter telling a DNA story, beginning with as Kean calls him "perhaps the most unlucky man of the twentieth century" Tsutomu Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi rushed out of his apartment in Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945, was struck down by the atomic bomb blast, struggled mightily against horrendous odds to get home to his wife and children, arriving  in Nagasaki on August  8 to be once again struck down by an atomic bomb blast.  Despite extensive radiation exposure, he lived a long life, dying in 2010. What was it about his DNA that he survived and others did not?  From cat hoarders to Egyptian royalty,  the book is filled with  interesting case histories - all of which illuminate our understanding of life.  A good read!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru,  I have heard that we have a famous author living here in Sea Cliff with a much acclaimed first novel coming out this month. Do you know anything about this?                                 Sea Cliff Author Stalker

Dear Author Stalker,  Yes,  Michael Sears, a renowned Sea Cliff resident, has his first novel coming out Sept. 18.  Lucky me- I was able to read an advance copy of BLACK FRIDAYS and I loved, loved, loved it!  Sears's hero, Jason Strafford had it all: fabulous Wall Street job, seven figure salary, beautiful wife, perfect baby boy… then it all came to an end. Jason was arrested for financial malfeasance, his alcoholic wife leaves him, his son is diagnosed as severely autistic.  We meet him as he is being released from prison after serving a two year sentence.   Jason quickly becomes mired in dangerous business. Hired by an investment firm  to clean out the files of a young stock trader who has died in a drowning accident, he soon finds there is much awry in the files and the firm. While this piece of the novel is riveting, the even more fascinating story is Jason’s quest to reclaim his son and provide him with a good life. His love for the boy- who he  affectionately refers to as The Kid- adds much depth to the novel and, as he unravels the intricacies of his son’s psyche, he gets a clearer look into the human condition- both good and evil.  Highly recommended!