Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  This week Sea Cliff Civic Association's Sunset Serenades begin at Memorial Park, Thursday at 7pm.  I always love these concerts with toddlers,  children, and adults enjoying the music, picnic dinners  being shared,  the crowd watching the sun set,  a great sense of community  in a beautiful setting throughout the summer. .. One of my favorite things to do is to get to the park early, set myself up under a tree with a good book, and wait for the music to start. Do you have a book you would recommend?         Sunset Serenade Supporter

Dear Sunset,  I, too, love the Serenades and we all have Petrice Kaider to thank for organizing them every year. And  I just read a book I think you might enjoy:  PASSING ON by Penelope Lively. Written in the eighties, this short novel chronicles the lives of a middle-aged brother and sister living in a small English village in the year that follows the death of their mother. Helen and Edward  and the reader come to realize over the course of the book  how powerful a force  she had been and that even in death, she controls her children.  The sweetly melancholy air that pervades the book is shattered  when events occur, revealing the depth of their misery.  This a beautifully written, short work- perfect for a summer evening!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  Last weekend I participated in a Sea Cliff's Second Annual  Bloomsday Walk . What fun!  Christine Abbenda and Joe Hughes  were there in their Edwardian finery and Joe played a series of lively tunes on his Irish penny whistle as we marched through the streets of Sea Cliff, recounting  the episodes of James Joyce's Ulysses.  I have often tried to read this iconic novel but- how can I say it?- it is just too much for me with its eight hundred pages of  thousands of literary and political allusions.  Is there a "Joyce lite"  I could start with, so I can at least say I am a fledgling member of the James Joyce Society of Sea Cliff?   Eager Noveau Joycean

Dear Eager,  The Bloomsday Walk was a great success with its many enthusiastic Joyceans- check out the photo in this week's Gold Coast Gazette. And indeed, I have just the book for you:  Joyce's  THE DUBLINERS .  Written a few years before the famed Ulysses, this work is a series of fifteen short stories linked by time, place, and theme. Joyce divided the stories by life stages,  using the ancient Roman system: childhood (to seventeen years), adolescence (  seventeen to thirty years) and maturity (the remaining years). We  follow the lives of these early twentieth century characters  as they cope with the spiritual, moral,  and intellectual oppression that Joyce saw as Dublin but throughout, he treats them not as victims but as a people ultimately aware of their own  fate.  Highly recommended!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru, I was at a recent celebration  here in Sea Cliff of the famed author Barbara Pym's centenary   when someone at the party mentioned an upcoming trip to Paris.  Everyone had suggestions as to what would be best to read in preparation, but Ed Lieberman, our newest trustee and a great lover of fine literature, insisted there was one book that had to be read. He said it was written by David McCullough, famous for his writings on Harry Truman, John Adams, and, yes, the Brooklyn Bridge, but  Paris?  What do you think?  Lover of All Things Parisian

Dear Lover of All Things Parisian,   McCullough's  THE GREATER  JOURNEY is the perfect introduction to Paris. It opens in 1830 as a group of travelers prepare to depart for an arduous ocean journey to Paris for intellectual, spiritual, and political awakening. His travelers will eventually include among others Samuel Morse, James Fenimore Cooper, Harriet Beecher Stowe,  Mary Cassatt, Elizabeth Blackwell, P.T. Barnum, and  Oliver Wendell Holmes. Their stories develop and intertwine throughout the book but always the main, overarching character is Paris.  We meet the beautiful, exotic, medieval Paris of the 1830's in the early chapters, and we are there to witness its transformation into the Paris we know today which began with Louis Napoleon and  city planner (a rather generic term for such a transformative figure) Georges Haussmann. The book is filled with exquisite illustrations and, yes, Ed is so right: do not visit Paris without having read this book!

Major Literary Event:  Sunday, June 16 at 8:30am the James Joyce Society of Sea Cliff will meet for its annual  Bloomsday  walk, beginning at the Marcello Tower aka the Sea Cliff Water Tower. This event will take about one hour. Hope you can join us!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,    I am very excited about the upcoming Spring Fest in Sea Cliff- I have heard it described as a village-wide block party and then again as a intimate version of Mini-Mart. It will take place along Sea Cliff Avenue from Arata's to Partners with Village organizations and artists and artisans set up to greet and meet the citizenry with lots and lots of live music from 11am to 4pm. Then- can it get better- yes!- because at 4pm we will all march over to Clifton Park  for a concert with more than eighty musicians performing- a perfect setting for a picnic supper. Well,  do you think there be time for a good book?  Swooning Over a Sunday in Sea Cliff

Dear Swooning,  What a great day awaits us and, yes, I have a wonderful, wonderful book for you to read :THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN  by Katherine Applegate.  This is a  short, simple novel that appeals to all ages and whose message lingers long after the book is finished. Ivan is a silverback gorilla who long ago left his native land and has lived in a shopping mall circus for thirty years. He has been more  or less content, but when a young elephant Ruby joins the circus, he sees how wretched his own life has been and he is consumed by the desire to make Ruby's  better. Family becomes an overwhelming interest of Ivan's as he tries to make sense of his existence. While the book is written from Ivan's point of view, we can see human  parallels .  A thought-provoking book based on a real life story…