Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  I think Fall is my favorite time of year and autumn in Sea Cliff is especially wonderful. From September through December, the calendar is filled with fun happenings  and now I've heard there is a new event on the Sea Cliff scene: The Chill Out, masterminded by multitalented  Kathleen DiResta and exuberant  Village Trustee Ed Lieberman.  Set for Friday, November 8,  beginning at the Village Green, the Chill Out will feature music from many of our local bands, special happenings from our  retail shops, and great meals at all our fine restaurants .  Of course, I will want something to read and talk about during the evening.  Any ideas?    #1 Chill Out  Fan

Dear Chill Out Fan, I love your enthusiasm and indeed  I have just the book for you: THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt.  When the book opens, we meet Theo, a thirteen year-old bright scholarship boy living a comfortable Manhattan existence with his single mom, the beautiful Audrey. Before the first chapter ends, Theo's life is changed forever. As he and Audrey run into the Metropolitan Museum of Art  to escape the rain, a terrorist bomb explodes; Audrey and many others are killed. As Theo awakens,  a mysterious benefactor whispers a strange message and urges  him to rescue "The Goldfinch" a small 17th century painting lying amidst the bomb's debris and destruction. From this point, Theo's  life begins to resemble the plot of a Dickensian novel: Great Expectations, Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, The Old Curiosity Shop, and a little J.D. Salinger's Cather in the Rye thrown in. Despite its enormous length-nearly 800 pages- the reader craves for more of this fine book. Highly recommended!                

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  I am so excited- I am going to my first ever Sea Cliff Fire Department Halloween Costume Party this Saturday, October 26. I heard it is great, great fun and I want to go as a character from a book- something glamorous yet scary, and, of course,  I am always looking for something good to read….any ideas?    Halloween Reveler

Dear Halloween Reveler,  I just finished reading a novel replete with costume ideas and also a perfect  read for this time of year:  NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl.  Let me start by saying this is  a very odd book-   I enjoyed it,  I found it  disturbing yet compelling,  and  I would ultimately recommend it, but it is very , very strange, indeed. The story is told by  investigative journalist  Scott McGrath who is obsessed with a  legendary film director Stanislas Cordova whose dark horror movies have taken on cult status over the years; his films are so terrifying  they are banned from  public theaters  and shown  only in underground venues .  The reclusive Cordova's daughter is found dead in the opening chapter and for the next 500 or so pages, we follow McGrath as he tries to unravel the mysteries surrounding father and daughter that Cordova's films eerily seem to mimic.  Black magic, violent mishaps, cryptic sightings, an array of colorful characters- all make for a good read but  then add in Pessl's special effects.  She intersperses her narrative with newspaper clippings, Rolling Stone articles from the ' 70's, police transcripts, yellowing photos…. all contributing to a blurring of magic and reality.  A perfect read for this Halloween weekend and, yes, a great source book for the perfect costume.   See you at the Fire Department's Costume Party! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,   Next  weekend is going to be extraordinarily busy here in Sea Cliff. On Saturday, Oct 26 there will be two major  events: the Second Annual Pet Parade at 11am and then the Good of the Village's Second Cemetery Walk at 4pm. And, yes- Jack Pierce  and the Fire Department will be collecting canned goods for Mutual Concerns in front of the Fire House.  On Sunday,  October 27, the Civic Association hosts its annual Cider Social with  songs, crafts, costumes, and tasty treats at Central Park at 3pm. Despite this busy weekend, as always,  I will need something to read.  Any suggestions?   Happy  Halloween Reader

Dear Happy,  My suggestion for you is a collection of short stories: NINE INCHES  by Tom Perrotta.  Each story stands on its own so you can stop and start as your busy schedule allows. This is an extraordinary collection with a common theme of community life. Little League games,  school dances, leaf raking, teacher evaluations, college applications, tree ordinances-  all mirror life in a small 21st century community. Each story shares a common theme- one tiny misstep and your life changes forever- no second chance- no forgiveness …. but wait-  was that a  single misstep or perhaps a  deep character flaw just waiting to be unearthed ? In many subtle ways these stories mirror James Joyce's collection of short stories "The Dubliners" in which each story reveals a character whose bad judgment reflects his own failings and even more so- Dublin's  intrinsic corruption . Perrota's people also are products of time and place. A disturbing but worthwhile read!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  I had such fun last week at the Mini Mart and now I am looking forward to the opening of my friend Fred Stroppel's new play "The Hunter's Moon"  which begins its Off Broadway run  October 23.  Before then, however, I would like to read a good book- something like the one you suggested last year: " Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. " Any thoughts?    An Autumn Anglophile

Dear Autumn Anglophile-  We were at Metropolitan Bistro recently with a group of friends, when the talk turned to good books . Petrice Kaider, always a great source,  mentioned one that she had read recently and loved: THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY by Rachel Joyce . Harold Fry is a lonely man living  a joyless life.  Recently retired from the local brewery, he is a source of constant irritation to his wife of forty-seven years.  Their son that they doted upon never visits, never calls. They have few neighbors and no friends.  Yes, Harold's  is surely a" life of quiet desperation"  but everything changes with the arrival in the morning mail of a letter from a former colleague - Queenie Hennessy.  Her message is brief: she is dying and wishes  Harold a fond farewell.  Shaken, Harold writes off a perfunctory get well card and leaves for the post office. Four months and 600 miles later, Harold arrives at Queenie's bedside after this most unlikely of pilgrimages.  On the journey we  learn a great deal about this gentle man who has suffered much. He meets many fellow pilgrims along the way: some who help , some who harm , some who simply share their stories.  Petrice was right- this is a wonderful book- one that reminds us that everyone we meet has a story waiting to be told and, yes, things are seldom as they appear. Highly recommended! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dear Great Book Guru,  This Sunday is Sea Cliff's  Mini Mart when thousands of people stroll down Sea Cliff Avenue in search of good food and great buys. For me the most fun is meeting up with old friends and checking out the Children's Library's used toy and book sale- the ultimate recycling  event of the year!  But as always I would like to spend some time reading a good book…..any suggestions?  Mini Mart Maven

Dear Mini Mart Maven,  I share your enthusiasm- in fact my friend and neighbor Lou Ciampi and I have been counting down the days until Sunday; we are both huge fans of Mini Mart. But I do admire your quest for a good book and I have a very special one for you: MORTAL BONDS  by Michael Sears.  Sears is a much acclaimed writer of mysteries and he and his wife, artist Barbara Segal, are Sea Cliff luminaries.  This latest book is a sequel to his  prize winning BLACK FRIDAYS.  Jason Stafford returns, embroiled in yet another financial debacle: a family- based billion dollar Ponzi scheme. Also returning is The Kid, his six-year-old autistic son, who once again captures our affection and respect.  A fast-moving thriller and so much more, MORTAL BONDS offers a compassionate look into the struggles and rewards of life with an autistic child while also illuminating the complex world of bearer bonds and Swiss bankers- a truly unique achievement!