Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  What a lovely weekend in Sea Cliff!  The  early rain only made Monday even more beautiful  with its sweet parade and ceremonies at Clifton Park. I especially loved the essays Kylie Kenny and Jackson Best presented to us, and Kirtland Watkins, the pastor at the Methodist Church, gave  a  beautifully thought-provoking invocation. While at the Children's Library before the parade began, I was talking to my friend Allison Ryan who- with her family- was helping put out the food and treats we all enjoyed so much.  We were discussing  vacation plans when a passerby mentioned a new , very controversial book on tourism. Do you know anything about this book? I would love to read it.   Intrigued by Travel

Dear Intrigued by Travel,  I just finished it:  OVERBOOKED  by NPR correspondent Nancy Becker,  and I really learned a lot about the business  and culture of tourism.  Becker gives the reader a history of travel  starting around  1960 when vaccines, fast air travel, and a paid two week vacation became the norm, and Arthur Frommer had just come out with his "Europe on Five Dollars a Day" approach to tourism. From 25 million trips to foreign countries that year, the number jumped to 1 billion in 2012. The impact this has had on the environment, the economy, and the psyche is closely analyzed with special attention paid to the gargantuan cruise ships that enter ports each day and the havoc they wreak.  From Venice to Dubai to Martha's Vineyard to Costa Rica, the author takes us on an amazing journey, offering us fascinating insights  all along the way.  This is a troubling book for anyone who travels and apparently there are a billion or so of us out there.

The Friends of the Sea Cliff Library  led by Carol Poll are hosting a huge book sale on the Village Green Saturday, June 1 from 9am to 4pm as part of the Village-wide Garage Sale sponsored by the Sea Cliff Civic Association. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,   How can anyone think of leaving Sea Cliff on Memorial Day weekend?  Besides being a lovely, lovely time of year, there are so many wonderful events going on- from the opening of Sea Cliff Beach,  great music and fine dining at all our restaurants, and then , of course, the Memorial Parade on Monday morning and the moving ceremony afterwards at Clifton Park.  But I do always like to have a good book on hand, so do you have any suggestions?         Stay in Sea Cliff Advocate

Dear SISC Advocate,  I agree with you completely, and now there is one more reason not to leave Sea Cliff- Bernard's of Glen Head will be operating the food concession at Sea Cliff Beach this summer.  Bring your book and stay from breakfast through dinner and, yes,  I have just the book for you: THE BURGESS BOYS  by Elizabeth Strout,  author of the  earlier, very popular OLIVE KITTERIDGE. This novel too is set in Maine and Brooklyn and follows the family history of the Burgesses, Jim, Bob, and Susan - middle-aged siblings whose lives have been colored by the premature death of their father. When the brothers return to the family home to help Susan cope with a bizarre hate crime incident, they find themselves addressing not the present crisis, but instead long buried childhood grievances. Highly recommended!

Major Literary Event :  Acclaimed Sea Cliff poet  Charles Hansmann's latest work POEM OF THE AHEAD PLACES has just been published and a beautifully crafted work it is!  The thirty-two poems, each a  joy to read, are bound between exquisite hand-pressed  endpapers.  You can contact kattywompuspress.com to purchase copies of the book.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  I was with my friend Tina Marchese this weekend and she told me about the exciting Sea Cliff  Landmarks House Tour that will take place on Sunday, May 19. Ten houses!!!! I would love to read a book earlier in the day and then again perhaps when the tour is over. Do you have a good book you would recommend?  Lover of Landmarks

Dear Lover of Landmarks , Yes- I have a wonderful book for you: THE PRIVILEGES  by Jonathan Dee. It begins with a wedding and then goes on to chronicle the bride and groom's life together over the next twenty years.  Cynthia and Adam are a couple so in love with one another, so privileged that the rest of the world simply does not exist for them.  Their children , their parents, their friends, all play essentially minor roles in this- the  story of their life together. Reminiscent of The Great Gatsby, the novel showcases the effects of  great wealth, good fortune, and  youthful exuberance, and  New York with its intensively competitive culture serves as a colorful backdrop.  Always there is the sense that the characters will pay for their misdeeds but no- that is not the case: good and evil, reward and punishment,  do not exist in this novel of 21st century sensibilities. A disturbing but recommended book!

Major literary event:  Sunday, June 2 is author Barbara Pym's 100th birthday and the Pym Society of Sea Cliff will be celebrating by reading an early novel of hers:  CRAMPTON HODNET and gathering for sherry, tea, and sweets that afternoon. Contact me at annmdipietro@gmail.com if you are interested in participating.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  Next Sunday is Mother's Day and I plan on taking my mother out to dinner - maybe Billy Long's Metro Bistro- and then  a movie and, of course,  I would like to buy her a book.  Any suggestions?   Devoted Son

Dear Devoted,   A great plan and I have both the movie and the book!  "The Great Gatsby" movie with Leonardo DiCaprio  opens this weekend which prompted me to reread the F.Scott Fitzgerald novel THE GREAT GATSBY.  While most of us are familiar with the story told by a young bond trader from the Midwest who finds himself enmeshed in the lives of his Long Island  millionaire friends,  I had forgotten, despite many readings of the novel ,how powerfully tragic the character of Gatsby is portrayed and how eerily noble he truly is.  Of course, the setting is familiar with North Shore mansions and roads playing a huge part in my enjoyment of the novel. Gatsby lives in nouveau riche Great Neck (West Egg) as opposed to the more genteel, old wealth of Manhasset ( East Egg) and the horrific climax takes place in- is it Douglaston, Queens ?   In many ways this is a simple book  with a simple plot but Fitzgerald's  narrator Nick draws us in  and we are as shocked as he by the outcome. This is a book to be read over and over with new insights to be found each time.