Friday, December 30, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, With the new year about to begin, I would like to read a book about things that matter- really matter.  Do you have any suggestions?
Greeting the New Year with Trepidation
Dear Greeting the New Year…. As a Christmas present, I asked for Peter Singer’s newest book: ETHICS IN THE REAL WORLD.  Singer is the controversial Australian philosopher who teaches at Princeton University, and is widely known for his early work “Animal Liberation” the handbook of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).  This new book is a series of eighty-two very short essays that deal with- as the author says “things that matter.” Topics include euthanasia, extreme poverty, the sale of kidneys, right to happiness,  what makes for a good life, are chimpanzees people, should smoking be banned, is all human life sacred, does religion make for a better people… plus seventy- three  additionally provocative essays.   Ultimately, he poses the question “does anything matter?”  These might seem like difficult topics to consider at this festive time of year, but Singer presents them dispassionately with this reader finding comfort in confronting indeed “things that matter.”  Highly recommended!

With music makers in hand, join us near the Village Green for the ringing of bells at midnight of New Year’s Eve….everyone welcome!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  My friends and I are planning a New Year’s Eve dinner party here in Sea Cliff. How I would love to add a literary piece to the evening’sfestivities!  We would need something short, meaningful, and seasonal. 
Literary New Year’s Reveler
Dear Literary New Year’s Reveler,  I have the perfect piece for your dinner party: James Joyce’s “The Dead”- the finest short story ever written.  This is the tale of a dinner party to celebrate the new year at the home of two elderly sisters in Dublin over one hundred years ago. The descriptions of delicious food and drink, the sparkling conversation and lilting music make for delightful reading but there is so much more going on here.  We meet the self-important, courtly Gabriel, the sisters’ adored nephew; his wife Gretta; the easily intimidated and intoxicated Freddy Malins;  his tedious, complaining mother Mrs. Malins; Lily, the young troubled servant girl… plus a whole array of colorful partygoers. There is a feverish litany of past parties, achievements, slights, and political barbs with the story’s climax coming as the party ends.  Gretta is in a melancholy mood as she remembers a boy she had known many years before.  Gabriel immediately becomes jealous and questions her fidelity only to learn the boy had died decades ago. Michael Fuery had despaired when Gretta decided to leave their small village for boarding school; he came to her window on a brutally bitter night to bid her farewell. He died shortly after, but the devotion he showed that night was still vividly alive for Gretta these many years later.  Gabriel laments his own pettiness and lack of passion in contrast to young Michael Fuery’s.  The story ends with Gabriel looking out as the snow covers Ireland, falling “upon all the living and the dead.”  Highly, highly recommended!
The people who brought you the Scrooge Stroll and the Joyce Jaunt are preparing a dramatization of “The Dead” early in 2017.  Watch for more details!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  So many fun things to do this weekend in Sea Cliff – lots of parties, cookie swaps, and on Sunday at 5pm the lighting of the new Menorah on the Village Green ! Any good books to recommend for a busy holiday celebrant?
Loving the Holidays

Dear Loving the Holidays,   I have just finished  a short, beautifully written and very disturbing book: THE SPINNING HEART by Donal Ryan.  Set in a rural Irish village as the economy crashes in 2008, this debut novel tells the stories of a community whose world has gone awry.  A local construction company- the prime source of employment for the village- goes bankrupt and its corrupt owner flees the country. His family, his workers, and their children face this new impoverished reality with varying degrees of grace and bitterness. Each chapter is told by a different character so by the end of the book we have heard from twenty- one villagers with their stories revealing starkly contrasting views.  We hear a six-year old girl’s concerns about parental strife, her parents’ fears of economic ruin, an aging patriarch’s shame at his son’s illicit dealings, the son’s unspoken plea for forgiveness…. This is a work of  enormous beauty, some humor,   and offers  great insight into the Irish psyche- highly recommended!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, This weekend I am planning on attending the Sea Cliff Children’s Library’s annual Introduction to “The Nutcracker” – at which Dan DiPietro explains and demonstrates the delights of this favorite holiday ballet. Everyone gets a chance to participate- adults and children alike. I would like something short but compelling to read at this busy time of year.  An Excited Fan of Nutcrackers Near and Far

Dear Excited Fan of Nutcrackers …. My book group recently read THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang. A very short novel ( 190 pages), this work was originally published in South Korea as three novellas. Yeong-hye is a young wife whose husband chose her for her ordinariness “completely unremarkable in every way”- because she would expect little from him. To his surprise and anger after a few years of marriage, she announces she will no longer eat meat, cook it, or store it their home. He has her committed to a psychiatric hospital to “cure” her but to no avail. The second part is told from the prospective of her artist brother-in-law who sees her as an art object . The final piece is told in the voice of her sister as she watches Yeong-hye descend into total madness. This novel can be seen as an analysis of detachment- first from society’s conventions, then from human desire, then finally from existence itself.  This is a very strange book whose images will remain with you for a very long time.   Recommended!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  What a wonderous Sea Cliff weekend  awaits us!  On Sunday December 4 at 3pm we have the Scrooge Stroll -a reenactment of Charles Dickens’s CHRISTMAS CAROL as we walk through the streets of Sea Cliff Village with playwright Frederick Stroppel as Dickens himself, Dan DiPietro as Scrooge and a merry troupe of  costumed Sea Cliff actors playing all the other roles. Then at 5pm  everyone gathers in front of the Adult Library to celebrate the lighting of the Village Christmas Tree. Do you have something for me to read while waiting for these festivities to begin? 
Scrooge Stroller and Village Tree Lighter

Dear Scrooge Stroller and Village Tree Lighter,  At this time of year, I often find myself returning to MR. IVES’ CHRISTMAS by Oscar Hijuelos. When we first meet Mr. Ives, his life appears perfect- abandoned as a young infant , he was adopted into a loving home and now in 1954 he is a successful New York businessman with a beautiful, devoted wife and two adored children and buoyed by a deep faith in the goodness of all things. By the second chapter, with the murder of his young son on Christmas Eve, his faith has been destroyed. The rest of the book deals with Ives’s struggle to make sense of his loss. While it may seem an odd choice for holiday reading, there is something enormously uplifting about this book as we follow Ives on his journey from a hollow, grieving man to a gloriously forgiving redemptive figure. In many ways it is a contemporary version of Dickens’s CHRISTMAS CAROL as we travel back in time to joyful moments and then forward to moments of unspeakable horror and then forward again to Ives’s moment of ultimate salvation. This beautifully written story will remain with you for a very long time- highly recommended!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  My whole family will be at the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s annual Turkey Hunt this Sunday  November 27 at 2pm at Geohagen Park, aptly also known as “Headless” Park.    Two hundred tiny toy turkeys will be hiding in trepidation, awaiting the arrival of their leader: the Great Turkey Himself! Heidi Hunt and her merry troupe of teens will  be there serving refreshments. Waiting for the hunt to begin, I will certainly need a good book- any suggestions?    Huge Fan of the Great Turkey Himself

Dear Fan of the Great Turkey Himself,  I just finished a fascinating literary mystery DEAR MR. M: A NOVEL by Herman Koch, author of THE DINNER  and SUMMER HOUSE- all three  wonderfully complex psychological thrillers.  Mr. M is an aging author whose reputation was secured many years before with ”Payback” a novel based on the real life disappearance of a Dutch school teacher.  In the opening pages we meet a strangely sociopathic  narrator who seems to have played a part in the original disappearance, and now decades later is shadowing  the author, his very young wife, and child.  As perspectives change from chapter to chapter and time shifts, we are caught up in a bizarre world where truth is elusive and suspense abounds. Ultimately, the reader is left to question the moral responsibility of any storyteller. The ending- while shocking- is immensely satisfying – highly recommended! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  I am looking forward to this Saturday evening’s  performance of “Richard the Nerd” at St. Luke’s here in Sea Cliff (7pm).  Elizabeth Sehring and her troupe of Silly Shakespeare Players always have such a hilarious take on the Bard.  Well, while I’m waiting for the fun to begin, do you have a compelling read? I do love a good mystery… Lover of Shakespeare- Silly and Otherwise
Dear Lover of Shakespeare….. I just finished a great mystery I am sure you will enjoy: THE TRESPASSER by Tana French.  Set in present day  Ireland, this fast moving novel is strong on character development.  Antoinette Conway is a newly appointed detective in the male dominated  Dublin Murder Squad. She and her partner Steve Moran are assigned to investigate the murder of a young woman.  Quickly, it becomes apparent the victim had many secrets and a stealth trespasser.  When the victim's last dinner guest turns out to be a strange, obsessive bookstore owner, the officials insist on his arrest, but our detective refuses to cooperate.  Soon we realize there is much more going on here: political cronyism, gender discrimination, and class prejudice- all playing a part in this exquisite literary mystery…highly recommended!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  I will be headed to Martha’s Vineyard for the Veterans’ Day weekend, and while all my friends know how I hate leaving Sea Cliff, I’m sure we will have a lovely time. To assure this, I need a good book to take along.  Any suggestions?   Weekend Away Reader

Dear Weekend Away Reader,  My book group just read a very interesting, thought-provoking book: HOT MILK by Deborah Levy. Sofia is a British graduate student who has spent many years caring for her mother Rose.  Rose’s illnesses may be real or feigned so when she suggests they visit a small coastal village where a strange but charismatic physician Doctor Gomez operates a private clinic. Sofia quickly agrees to go along.   Soon after arriving, she finds  adventure, a bevy of friends and  lovers, and a radically different life style- while ultimately gaining new insights into her relationship with Rose.  A weekend visit to Athens to see her father and his new family further helps her understand their mother and daughter dynamic.  Throughout this short (210 pages) the Greek mythological characters  Medusa and Medea appear adding a note of danger and horror.   The title  “Hot Milk” refers to the passionate, nurturing, and tortured  connection that binds this particular mother and child.  Recommended!   

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  This Saturday is the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s iconic event – the Progressive Dinner. Chaired by Tina Marchese, the Dinner is very popular and always sold out.  I am looking forward to delicious food and a great chance to meet friends old and new.   With the election in a few days, I know dinner  conversation will turn to politics.  Do you have a good book I can read and discuss with the other guests?   
Excited Progressive  Dinner Diner

Dear Excited Progressive Dinner Diner,  Tina does a fabulous job every year so I am sure you will indeed have a great time, and  I do  have the perfect book for you: THE SPOILS OF WAR by Bruce Bueno De Mesquita and Alistair Smith. This is a retelling of American history with an emphasis on the presidencies of Washington, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Kennedy, Bush, and Obama.  The authors’ thesis is that the most popular presidents ruled during our bloodiest years. Cherished national myths are debunked with Washington and Lincoln receiving the harshest treatment. Washington is described as not so much a champion of independence, but a protector of his own vast personal wealth. Lincoln is criticized for prolonging  war to guarantee his reelection. On the other hand,  LBJ receives special attention and praise as someone who gave up hopes for  reelection in order to see his social programs triumph.  This is a fresh, interesting, and entertaining  look at our country’s leaders…. Highly recommended!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  This Sunday is one of my favorite Fall events- the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s Cider Social.  Heidi Hunt and her merry troupe of teen volunteers will be serving refreshments, organizing crafts, and spreading cheer to a bevy of costumed lads and lasses at Central Park from 3 to 4pm. Well, of course, I’ll need a good book to read while I wait for the fun to begin. Any thoughts?
 Ardent Fan of the Cider Social

Dear Ardent Fan of the Cider Social, I just finished a very unusual novel: THE NUTSHELL by Ian McEwan. This is the story of an impending murder told from the perspective of a fetus.  It  begins with the words  “ So here I am –upside in a woman” and our narrator- a nine month fetus- listens in on the world of his twenty-eight year old mother as she and her lover plot the murder of her husband/his father. Of course, one has to suspend reality as we listen to his insightful, utterly humorous insights into the daily lives of those outside the womb.  When he discovers that his uncle Claude is part of this plot, we quickly see the parallels with Shakespeare’s HAMLET. This is a darkly humorous murder mystery despite the wildly farcical nature of the story.  Very fast, very clever, very short (195 pages), this is a wonderful book to read on a busy Fall afternoon- recommended!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,   Fall has arrived here in Sea Cliff and how lovely it is! One of my favorite autumn sights is the beautiful maple tree  basking in its full red bejeweled glory behind the Children’s Library.   Amidst all this beauty, I feel the need for some serious reading.    Any recommendations?
Lover of Sea Cliff Every Season of the Year

Dear Lover of Sea Cliff …, I just finished a remarkable, very troubling historical novel: THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead.  This award winning work is told from the perspective of Cora, a young woman who has been enslaved all her short life. Her grandmother had been kidnapped from an African village and eventually brought to the Randall plantation in Georgia where Cora was born. Her journey is told in harsh detail and serves as a prelude to her granddaughter’s suffering and abuse.  Early in the book, Cora sees a way to escape the horrors of plantation life by taking “the underground railroad.” Colson adds a level of magical realism here by making the railroad a subway of sorts- tracks deep underground on which actual trains ran emerging in various states, each location holding its own peculiar torments and terrors for the riders.  Interspersed with Cora’s story are short vignettes of historical and fictional characters she meets along her way. While set in pre Civil War times, the novel underscores the brutal legacy of racism that lingers in the American psyche.  A remarkable book and highly recommended!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  Sad to say I am headed out of Sea Cliff this weekend.  We are headed to Vermont for a fall foliage trip.  Please recommend a good book to help me through the weekend.  
Reluctant Fan of Fall Foliage

Dear Reluctant Fan of Fall Foliage,  I so understand your reluctance to leave Sea Cliff, but I do have a good book for you: COMMONWEALTH by Ann Patchett.  This novel spans five decades, two families, four parents, and six children. The story begins in southern California at Frannie Keating’s christening when her mother and Bert Cousins begin an affair that sets the Cousins’ and Keating’ families asunder. Over the years the six children meet up in Virginia for summer visits- tragedy strikes, bonds are forged, and time relentlessly moves forward.    When one of the children becomes involved with a world famous novelist, the family’s story becomes a national bestseller and award winning film, leaving everyone involved questioning the validity of their memories. The novel ends with the death of the parents, and the reader and the children are left to wonder: what was it all about?  Despite humorous interludes, the story is imbued with sadness. A touching tale of familial pain and affection…recommended!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, This is the Columbus Day weekend coming up and I have a  wedding to go to in Brooklyn …my dear friends Claire and Rich are getting married. While I am waiting for the festivities to begin, I would love a good book to read.  Any suggestions?   Very Excited Wedding Guest

Dear Very Excited Wedding Guest, I just finished an interesting novel by Ann Leary : THE CHILDREN.  It is set in northern Connecticut at a wealthy lakeside resort community.  Whit Whitman had inherited a rambling mansion on the lake and with his death, his second wife continues to live there harmoniously with an assortment of children and stepchildren.  That is until…one of the children brings home a glamorous, accomplished fiancée with a mysterious back story. Soon longtime resentments surface and this strange paradise begins to collapse. The story is told from the unreliable perspective of Charlotte Maynard, a twenty-nine year-old who finds it difficult to leave her late, charismatic stepfather’s home. Gradually we learn of the many material and psychological burdens each of the children bears.  In addition, there is an odd but fascinating subplot involving a “mommy blog” that is cyber attacked.  This is a fast moving, entertaining read- perfect for a wedding weekend.  Our best wishes to the bride and groom!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, This is  MiniMart Sunday, one of my favorite Sea Cliff events, and I am going to be at the Children’s Library checking out their great toy and book bargains. However, I really would like to have something to read later in the day when the crowds become overwhelming. Do you have a good book to recommend?                        Lasting Lover of the MiniMart

Dear Lasting Lover of the MiniMart,  I just finished a fascinating and ultimately terrifying  book: THE MANDIBLES by Lionel Shriver.  Set in the United States beginning in 2029 and finishing up in 2047, the novel  follows the fortunes or misfortunes of the Mandible family whose members are eagerly awaiting the death of their wealthy ninety-seven year- old patriarch. Carter, his son, after years as a reporter at Long Island’s Newsday, is  hired at the New York Times only to see it  go bankrupt as does every other newspaper in the country. Severe climate change has upended resources with food and water in short supply. Unemployment is rampant.  Then the unthinkable happens: the dollar crashes and is replaced by an international currency. The President angrily declares a default on all loans. Money becomes worthless and chaos results. While seemingly a grim tale of the world ending as we know it, the book remains darkly humorous as we watch the Mandibles scramble to cope.  Highly recommended only if you can convince yourself it’s a fantasy…. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, I am going to the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s Newcomers Party next Sunday and I am very excited, but concerned that I might not have much to say to my fellow newcomers. If you could recommend a controversial book that might stimulate conversation, I would be eternally grateful.                       A Somewhat Nervous Newcomer

Dear Somewhat Nervous Newcomer,  I think I have a good book for you, but first I must assure you that the Newcomers Party is great fun and nothing to be nervous about. The book I am suggesting is THE GIRLS by Emma Cline. The narrator is Evie Lloyd, a fourteen year old living in California in the 1960’s. Her grandmother (think possibly Lucille Ball) was a famous actress who has left an estate that afforded Evie and her mother an affluent life style. Despite this, Evie is very unhappy and finds herself attracted to a strange, charismatic teenage girl( think Squeaky Fromme) who is part of a group of young girls who follow Russell (think Charles Manson), an elusive, disheveled, abusive forty year old. When Russell forces the girls to violently attack various Hollywood luminaries (think Roman Polanski’s wife Sharon Tate), the story takes a truly dark turn. Their lives are forever changed and Evie, forty –five years later, wonders what is was that that drew them all into this horrendous vortex.   Recommended!                                    

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, I am so excited- my favorite group ANTIGONE RISING –is performing this weekend at Sea Cliff Beach on Saturday, September 17. While I am waiting for the music to begin, do you have a good book for me to read?
 Fervent Fan of Antigone Rising

Dear Fervent Fan of Antigone Rising, I have just finished a compelling novel by  new author Flynn Berry: UNDER THE HARROW.  The story opens with Nora eagerly anticipating a weekend visit with her older sister Rachel in Oxford. On the train from London, she envisions the meal Rachel is preparing, her dog Ferro’s excited greeting, a  night of catching up with an adored sibling- a perfect weekend!  The first sign that things are amiss is that Rachel is not at the station waiting for her.  As Nora enters the house, she finds Ferro dead, her sister brutally murdered, and dinner growing cold on the stove. Thus begins her descent into inconsolable grief and we follow as she tries to make sense of the past and present while discovering how little she really knew about her sister.  Much more than a psychological thriller, this is a study of grieving- of living “under the harrow” – the title coming from C.S.Lewis’s  “A Grief Observed.” This is a book you will not easily forget…highly recommended!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  With the beginning of the Fall months, I am looking for a mystery series to throw myself into- I love a British village setting- something with lots of local color and character development- any ideas? Autumnal Mystery Lover

Dear Autumnal Mystery Lover,  I just arrived back from the annual Barbara Pym Conference in Oxford, England where I was introduced to a great series that meets all your demands: Hazel Holt’s SHEILA MALORY NOVELS.  Hazel Holt was Pym’s literary executor and she died recently so this year’s conference was a tribute to Holt.  Sheila Malory is a middle-aged writer living in the lovely hamlet of Taviscombe about two hours south of London. Her daily routines and encounters with friends and townspeople form the basis of each of Holt’s twenty mysteries. Interestingly, much of the happenings in Taviscombe remind me of life here in Sea Cliff whether it be restaurant encounters, clandestine meetings, or unscrupulous property development.  My favorite so far was A TIME TO DIE. Malory fights a noble fight against a large corporation that is trying to rezone a large tract of land potentially changing the entire character of her beautiful village.  Soon there are a few suspicious deaths that Malory investigates, leading her to believe some people will let “nothing or no one stand in their way.”  A fascinating study of the banality of evil- highly recommended!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  Many of my friends here in Sea Cliff are transplanted Brooklynites and we will be getting together this weekend for a softball game in Clifton Park.  I was thinking of suggesting we continue our spirit of camaraderie by forming a Brooklyn themed book group.  Any ideas on a good book to start us off?  Bridging of Brooklyn and Sea Cliff

Dear Brooklyn/Sea Cliff Bridge Builder,  What a great idea and I have a wonderful new book to start you off: ANOTHER BROOKLYN by Jacqueline Woodson.  Set in the 1970’s, this lyrical, poignant tribute to the power of memory and friendship offers us a glimpse of life far from the boutiques and brownstones of our present day perception of Brooklyn.  August arrives from rural Tennessee with her young brother and grieving father after a traumatic loss. Her brother and father go on to find comfort in religion while August finds hers in friends : Sylvia,  Gigi, and Angela. These young girls see their friendship as an unbreakable force – themselves as beautiful, talented, powerful-  with lives that will be untouched by the corrupt forces surrounding them.  We meet August twenty years later- now an Ivy League academic traveling the world studying death rituals. The other girls have traveled long distances too but not always to places they had hoped. Their stories are told in a feverish voice of innocence and pain as the four girls cross over from childhood to adolescence in “another Brooklyn.” Highly recommended! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  As summer is  winding down,  I want to make sure I take advantage of all the wonderful events still to come.  I will certainly be at Sunset Serenade on Thursday, Music at the Beach on Friday, and the great Cinema Under the Stars on Sunday at Roslyn Park featuring the classic Disney film “Mary Poppins.”  Well, with all this going on, I  want to have a good book on hand- any suggestions? Loving the Last Days of Summer

Dear Loving the Last Days of Summer,  I recently read  THE GOOD HOUSE by Ann Leary and I think you will find it very interesting.  Hildy Good and her family  have lived for generations  in Wendover, a small town  on the rocky north shore of Massachusetts not far from Boston.  As a successful real estate agent, recovering  alcoholic, and sometime psychic , she finds herself involved in the lives of her many friends and clients. When she sells a house to a wealthy young couple from Boston, a strange new chapter begins for her as her struggles with alcohol intensify.  At first she seems  in control but gradually things begin to fall apart as she tries to explain away her blackouts and increasingly bizarre behavior . When the town rallies to find a young  missing boy, Hildy and the reader  fear she is somehow responsible for his disappearance.  Throughout, the author presents us with a compassionate, albeit terrifying, portrait of a complex, tortured woman. Highly recommended!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  August is a favorite time of mine to read something I would not ordinarily tackle. It's probably a combination of warm summer days and the absence of so many of my vacationing friends that makes me want to spend time reading something meaningful.  Do you have any suggestions?
August Reader Extraordinaire

Dear August Reader Extraordinaire,  I have just the book for you especially if time is limited: TRIBE  by Sebastian Junger.  He writes that American society is at odds with our evolutionary history. While we buy bigger houses, crave separate bedrooms, relish private  backyards, and drive automobiles, the unhappier we seem to be. Is it because we were meant to live close together in shared spaces? Junger says, ”Native Americans would have practiced extremely close and involved child care, and they would have  done everything in the company of others. They would almost never have been alone.”  Junger asserts that this lack of tribalism is at the root of so much of the post-traumatic stress of returning  war veterans.  The military offered a respite from the aloneness of civilian life. A very thought- provoking book, very short (166 pages), and highly recommended!

Join me in welcoming Molly Matilda Anzalone to the world and  much love to her parents Gillian and Joseph! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  I have never been a fan of the Olympics but many of my friends have been following the games in Rio with great interest. So while they are so engaged, I wonder if you have something for me to read that might explain the intense interest such sporting events engender.                                          No Fan of the Olympics

Dear No Fan of the Olympics,  Whether this was coincidental or very well planned, the release of Meg Abbot’s YOU WILL KNOW ME just a week before the start of the Olympic Games is exquisite timing.  Abbot explores the world of young gymnasts and their families as they aspire to Olympic competition. Katie and Eric Knox’s teen daughter Devon,   a gymnast of immense talent almost since birth, is  about to qualify for its highest honors when a mysterious car accident threatens to upend this trajectory.  The financial and emotional sacrifices that she and her parents  have made are chronicled in brutal detail while the reader is left to question the motives of all involved including her friends, their parents and her coach who asks “How far will you go to achieve a dream?”  For the Knoxes there appears to be no limit to what they will do….   If you were a fan of GONE GIRL, you will find this book irresistible- recommended!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  I have been enjoying Friday nights at Sea Cliff Beach with its great bands every week, beautiful sunsets,  delicious treats from the Beach Café, and the added fun of meeting up with almost all of Sea Cliff. While waiting for the music to begin, I would love to have something light but worthwhile to read.  Any suggestions?                 Lover of Sea Cliff Beach Music

Dear Lover of Sea Cliff Beach Music, I have just the book for you: VINEGAR GIRL by one of my favorite authors- Anne Tyler.  This is a retelling of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” set in present day Baltimore- home to much of Tyler’s fiction.  Kate Battista is unhappy in her job, her home, her life.  She is smart, funny, and thoroughly underappreciated.  Her father is on the verge of a major scientific breakthrough, but he desperately needs the continued help of his soon- to -be deported Russian lab assistant.  He turns in madcap fashion to Kate who immediately sees through her father’s scheming machinations. We soon find ourselves immersed in a sweet albeit wildly funny family drama with Tyler’s usual array of quirkily loveable characters. VINEGAR GIRL is definitely more Tyler than Shakespeare, and fans of hers will be delighted with this latest addition to her oeuvre.  Recommended!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  The lazy, hazy days of summer are surely upon us and, of course, this is the perfect time to settle down in a lovely air-conditioned living room or on breezy porch with a compelling novel . Any suggestions?  Summer Fan of Fiction

Dear Summer Fan of Fiction, This weekend I read a wonderfully poignant coming of age novel THEY MAY NOT MEAN TO, BUT THEY DO  by Cathleen Schine.  The coming of age described is old age, and the title comes from a Philip Larkin poem  describing  the painful ballet  parents and children find themselves dancing throughout the years.  Joy Bergman is 86 years old and coping with the many losses that time has brought. Molly and Daniel- her children- and Ben, Cora, and Ruby- her grandchildren- are coping with Joy and their own  very complicated lives. Set largely in New York City, the novel is both cleverly humorous and starkly bleak as three generations of Bergmans look for solutions to life’s inevitable changes.  Add the Bergman grandchildren’s legal and religious crises and you have a deliciously dark, thought provoking look into family life circa 2016. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  We are headed to Marblehead, Massachusetts this weekend for the wedding of Julia Calzonetti and Alex Finigan.  It should be great fun, although of course it is always hard to leave Sea Cliff.  I am sure there will be time for some reading so I would appreciate a good recommendation.
Delighted Wedding Guest                                            
Dear Delighted, What a lovely weekend awaits you- our best to the bride and groom- and yes I have a great book to recommend: I AM NO ONE by Patrick Flanery.  Jeremy O’Keefe is returning to New York City after ten years living in England.  After failing to receive tenure at Columbia University, he had accepted a position at one of Oxford University’s oldest but not very prestigious colleges.  As the novel opens, he has been offered a teaching assignment in N.Y.U.’s history department.  While excited to be back home, he finds life here very lonely as he tries to rekindle past friendships and make new connections. Soon he realizes something is very, very wrong.  He realizes he is being followed by a strange young man, his elderly mother receives telephone calls slandering him, boxes of his online email activity for the last ten years are delivered to his apartment… What  has he done to explain this bizarre surveillance? He questions whether he is indeed as he thinks “no one” or the victim of a massive government conspiracy. This is a book that will stay with you for a very long time- highly recommended!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  Every Thursday throughout July and August you will find me at my favorite Sea Cliff spot enjoying my favorite Sea Cliff summer series:   Sunset Serenades at Memorial Park, and on July 14  one of my favorite groups is performing: Hunt and Hughes. Heidi Hunt and Joe Hughes will be leading the concert off at 7pm. While I am waiting for the music to begin, is there a book you would recommend? 
Super Fan of Sunset Serenades

Dear Super Fan, Sunset Serenade is a huge favorite of mine also, and we all have Petrice Kaider  to thank for organizing these concerts for the last fifteen years. Yesterday I read a very short, very unusual, very moving novel: GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS by Max Porter.  Narrated in three voices: Dad, the Boys, and the Crow, this book chronicles the aftermath of a young wife/mother’s sudden, accidental death and how her husband and young sons deal with it over the years.  There are the expected moments of deep grief yet there are also bits of humor as the family struggles to adjust, but the most astonishing thing about this book is the role of Crow- the voice that embodies their collective grief.  Joining its literary avian ancestors, Poe’s Raven, Hitchcock’s the Birds, and Coleridge’s Albatross-  Porter’s Crow becomes the family’s metaphorical caregiver.  Eventually, as the Crow flies- so does grief…. Recommended!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  Next Saturday is Sea Cliff Beautification’s Secret Garden Tour and I am going to be selling tickets across from K.C. Gallagher’s at Pirie Park (one of Sea Cliff’s 18 ). While I am sure sales will be brisk, I am also sure there will be some quiet moments, so I want to make sure I have a good book with me.  Any recommendations?          
Admirer of SCBC’s Secret Gardens

Dear Admirer of SCBC’s Secret Gardens, One of my favorite authors – Stewart O’Nan- just came out with a new novel:  CITY OF SECRETS and it’s quite wonderful.  Jossie Jorgensen is a recreated man- his name, his  forged passport, his taxi, his home are all  gifts from the Jewish Defence Organization- a group organized to protect Jewish immigrants from Arab assault and the harshly restrictive British Mandate following World War II.  Jossie had  survived the Holocaust, but his young wife, his siblings, and his parents were not so lucky.  Arriving from a Latvian concentration camp to polyglot Jerusalem, he finds himself morally and emotionally shattered. He chauffeurs American tourists to Christian sites during the day while aiding his underground comrades at night.   When he becomes part of a terrorist plot to overthrow the British, he is forced to examine his place in a brutally, seemingly senseless world.  An absorbing look into a period of history which eerily foreshadows our present time….recommended! 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  Sea Cliff Beach Cafe is now open seven days a week and I love nothing better than heading down there for a delicious breakfast (the Greek omelet is my favorite) followed by a couple hours reading under one of those  lovely blue stripped umbrellas. Do you have a good book to recommend? 
Fervent Fan of the Beach Café

Dear Fervent Fan of the Beach Café,  I just read the perfect book for reading on Sea Cliff’s beautiful beach: MODERN LOVERS  by Emma Straub.  Set in present day Brooklyn, this novel traces  four members of a 1980’s almost  successful  Oberlin College rock band as they grow into middle age  on a tree-lined block in Ditmas Park.  Restaurants, real estate, and romance are the chief concerns of these aging band members as they fall in and out of love.  When a secret diary detailing their early years together is found everyone begins to rethink past choices.    Zoe and Jane (  long married and harried restaurateurs), Elizabeth (local real estate maven), and Andrew (a duped investor in a nearby Yoga studio) are a colorful lot. While much of Straub’s writing seems to spoof  present day concerns, it is done with a light touch that makes for a fast fun read.  Recommended!

Friday, June 17, 2016

 Dear Great Book Guru,  I am looking forward to a myriad of wonderful summer events here in Sea Cliff beginning this week  with the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s iconic Ice Cream Social held every year in Spooky Park. While I am waiting for the fun to begin, I would love a good book to start the summer off just right.  Any ideas? 
Fan of Sea Cliff Summers

Dear Fan of Sea Cliff Summers,  My book club just finished a novel that was not  very well received by my friends, but one that I much enjoyed: THE DOOR by Magda Szabo.  Szabo is a renowned international author who has written over twenty award winning books, but is little known in America. This beautifully crafted jewel of a novel is a great introduction to her work.  It is the story of two women: Magda- a young intellectual novelist married to an older physician- and Emerence- an elderly servant who becomes an integral part of their household.  It is a deeply moving psychological mystery that seeks to uncover why these two women become so intimately connected.  Gradually we come to realize Emerence for all her intimidating and seemingly cruel behavior is actually a Christ-like figure whose love encompasses humans and animals alike. When she dies, literal and metaphorical doors open, with Magda realizing how small a person she herself is and the depth of Emerence’s goodness.   This is a very moving albeit challenging book that reminds the reader how impossible it is to truly know another. Recommended! 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  There are some major events coming up this week- Silly Shakespeare’s “Richard the Nerd,” Springfest,  Stars and Stripes Concert at Clifton Park,  White Caps Awards at Metropolitan Bistro, and the James Joyce Jaunt – Sea Cliff’s own celebration of Bloomsday- quite a  week! In addition, we are celebrating a friend’s birthday and I would love to give him a great book to read- recommended, of course, by the Great Book Guru herself.  Any ideas?  Joyful June Celebrant

Dear Joyful June Celebrant,  I just finished a much acclaimed new book that should be on everyone’s summer reading list: BEFORE THE FALL by Noah Hawley.  The novel opens on a foggy summer night as passengers and crew are boarding a private plane bound from Martha’s Vineyard to New York: a media mogul – think Fox’s Roger Ailes- his young family, a billionaire friend about to be indicted for a massive money laundering scheme, an aspiring artist invited to join the group at the last minute, and four crew members.  We learn all this on the first page where we also learn that the plane crashes into the Atlantic after sixteen minutes in flight- with only two survivors.  Subsequent chapters give us the back story of each of these characters as the authorities struggle with the question:  malfunction or sabotage?  The relentless twisting of truth and exploitation of victims by 24 hour cable news outlets are described in brutal detail as is the political infighting of government agencies as they try to determine what actually happened on that fateful flight … A fascinating read and highly recommended!

And a very Happy Flag Day Birthday to Justin DiPietro!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, One of my favorite events occurs this weekend- the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s Community-wide Garage Sale on Saturday, June 4 from 9-4.  My first stop is always the Village Green where the Friends of the Library have their huge book sale and I can pick up a map/guide to all the sales.  While wandering about, is there a book I should be on the lookout for?
Seeker of Great Books

Dear Seeker of Great Books,  I heard there are over 120 families participating in this year’s Sale and-yes- there is a book I highly recommend you seek out:  INNOCENTS AND OTHERS by Dana Spiotta.  On the surface it is a story of three women told by each from the 1980’s until now. Woven throughout is a fascinating history of Hollywood and the art of filmmaking. Carrie, Meadow, and Jelly reveal different aspects of the glorious yet tawdry world of film- with all its underlying cruelties, compromises, and genius.  As we become involved in their individual lives, we wonder: are these characters in any way connected? Spiotta answers our concerns in an astonishing fashion, and this beautifully written, cleverly developed novel becomes ultimately a soaring tale of redemption- highly recommended!

Friday, May 27, 2016

 Dear Great Book Guru,   Memorial Day weekend is always a special time for me.  I love the annual spirited Village Parade, the bittersweet ceremonies at our parks, and – of course-the breakfast beforehand at the Children’s Library, but I really do need a good book to see me through the weekend.  Any thoughts?  Memorial Day Fan

Dear Memorial Day Fan,  I just finished a fascinating book VANISHING VELAZQUEZ by Laura Cummings. This is a true story of one man’s obsession with a painting- an obsession that caused him to lose everything: his family, his wealth, his reputation, his home, and some say… his mind.   In 1845,  John Snare stumbled upon a portrait  of the future King Charles I of England by Velazquez- or at least that’s what he believed- and so begins the story.  Cummings is a world renowned art critic and expert on the works of Diego Velazquez, the 17th century Spanish master, so this book is a homage to the artist in addition to being a riveting mystery, a history of the court of Spain’s King Philip IV,  and a psychological profile of  the besotted art collector Snare. You will find this a great read for the long holiday weekend and an definitely an inspiration for a trip to the Metropolitan Museum where you can see at least seven of Velazquez’s paintings. Recommended!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, Sea Cliff is filled with great things to do this time of year- the St. Boniface Fair, SC Baseball/Softball games, parades, school concerts….My problem is I have little time left for reading now, and as luck would have it, it is my turn to host my book club.  Please, please suggest something not too long, very easy to read, and good for discussion.  Can you help me?
Harried Book Club Host

Dear Harried, Interestingly, my book club just met and our selection might be what you are looking for: THE ART OF HEARING HEARTBEATS  by Jan-Phillip Sendker.  This short novel (320 pages) is set in Burma and takes place from the 1950’s to the present.  A successful attorney mysteriously disappears from his home in New York City leaving behind a wife and two grown children.  Four years elapse with no word from him. While going through his papers, his daughter Julia finds a letter which suggests he has had a secret life and love for many, many years.  She travels to the location mentioned in the letter where she meets a man who promises to reveal all her father’s secrets.  We learn about two teenage lovers- one blind and one crippled- who despite living with tremendous deprivation and ill fortune, find enduring love.  Filled with spiritualism and mysticism, this international bestseller evoked wildly diverse reactions from my fellow book club members.  Most enjoyed it tremendously while a few (myself included) found it saccharine and predictable. You might enjoy this ….or maybe not.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, I am headed out on a family vacation with my family and would like to load my Kindle with some good books for the long plane ride. Do you have some suggestions?  Devoted to My Kindle

Dear Devoted,  I recently read this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction: THE SYMPATHIZER by Viet Thanh Nguyen and would certainly recommend it .    It is a beautifully written, shocking Vietnam War novel with a complex narrator- a young captain in the South Vietnamese army, born in the North to a teenage Vietnamese girl and a French priest. While chief aide to the General, who is head of the National Police, he is also a secret agent for the Communist North Vietnamese. With the fall of Saigon, the General flees with his family and loyal staff, including our young narrator.   When they arrive in Los Angeles, he continues his double life – obsequiously serving the General while regularly sending reports back to his handlers in Vietnam.  Life in 1975 Los Angeles is described in touching, at times humorous detail, as the General and his coterie adjust to his diminished status, but the novel soon takes a very dark turn. Our narrator finds himself forced to prove his loyalty to both sides by committing acts of incredible violence.  While a spy novel, a work of historical fiction, a portrait of a fascinating young man, this book is ultimately a chilling indictment of the absurdity of war. Recommended!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, I will be spending this Sunday- Mother’s Day- with friends and family here in Sea Cliff and I would love to give gifts to everyone. A book is always my first choice so if you have a suggestion…..
Perennial Book Giver
Dear Perennial Book Giver,  I just finished a wonderful book I would definitely recommend: MOTHERING SUNDAY by Graham Swift.  Mothering Sunday was celebrated in England on the fourth Sunday of Lent –it was the day wealthy landowners would give their servants time off  to return home to visit their mothers. This very short novel (177 pages) takes place on one Mothering Sunday in 1924 – an unseasonably warm day that would change Jane Fairchild’s life forever.  As an orphan , Jane has no mother to visit so instead she spends the afternoon with the young heir to the neighboring manor Paul Sheringham, who has been her lover for the last six years. He is to be married in two weeks so this is to be their farewell.  Jane describes in exquisite detail the luminous beauty of the day, the house, the food, the gardens. She will remember this day throughout her very long life- we learn she lives well into her nineties  and will become an internationally celebrated author. Reminiscent of Virginia Woolf’s  “Mrs. Dalloway,” the novels of Barbara Pym, Joseph Conrad’s “Youth”and, yes- a touch of “Downton Abbey,” this  book- this day- is one you too will long remember.  Recommended!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  I went to a commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising at Cooper Union in Manhattan recently,  and I was very impressed with how much the labor movement here and abroad has done to improve the lives of workers.  One of the people attending mentioned a beautifully written but horrific new book about working conditions on an Arctic whaling ship.  Are you familiar with this book? 
 Student of the 1916 Rising

Dear Student ,  I too was very impressed with the 1916 Easter Rising commemoration at Cooper Union. The book you mention is a tale of great brutality and poetic beauty: THE NORTH WATER by Ian McGuire.  Patrick Sumner is a disgraced Irish physician left with few options who enlists as a medic on the Volunteer, a whaling vessel bound for the Arctic- the North Water.  On board is a bloodthirsty, drunken harpooner Henry Drax and a crew of wretched men under the command of the ill-fated Captain Brownlee. Before the journey ends, many are dead and all semblance of civilization destroyed. This book is a carefully crafted mystery with many shocking twists and turns, a chronicle of  the 19th century shipping and whaling trade, an historical perspective on British/ Irish class hostilities, and ultimately an indictment of the cruelty and perversity of humankind. A difficult but very rewarding read!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  Last weekend I was at opening day of Sea Cliff Baseball rooting for my favorite team “The Artful Dodgers” when I overheard a heated discussion of a new book about widespread injustices in America.  I would love to learn more but didn’t catch the title.  Any idea?                            
  Fan of Sea Cliff Baseball

Dear Fan,  Yes, I was part of  that discussion and the book is EVICTED by Matthew Desmond. Desmond, a young sociologist, writes about eight families living in Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhood. We learn in exquisite detail the struggles these families endure as they face seemingly insurmountable odds.   The cumulative effect for the reader is shame and horror.  We read of a single mother paying 80% of her $628 income in rent; failing to pay this rent, she is evicted during a brutal Wisconsin winter.  A father  struggling to care for his young children is evicted after three 911 calls trigger “a nuisance citation” and, yes- the calls were because of his son’s asthma attacks. The book focuses on two points:  that growing numbers of low income families are paying astonishing shares of their income for rent  and secondly, evictions aren’t a result of poverty but a cause, resulting in job losses, school absences, illness… To lose one’s home, the author discovers is often to lose everything- your possessions, your job, your children,  your future.  These evicted families  enter into Dante’s inferno- “abandon all hope,  you who enter here.” Highly recommended!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, My friends and I are thinking of starting a monthly book club focusing on non-fiction.  Do you have any suggestions for a good book we could begin with- something short, something compelling?  
Reality Reader

Dear Reality Reader, I have a wonderful book for your group: WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanithi. Kalanithi was a brilliant scientist, writer, and linguist with advanced degrees in medicine and literature. Then at age 36 he received what was basically a death sentence:  a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer. This slim (240 pages) volume details his last years as he tries to answer a question he has been obsessed with his entire adulthood: “given that all organisms die, what makes a virtuous and meaningful life?” We learn about his parents, his large family of cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles, his wife, his many friends- all who play a part in his quest for understanding. We see as he goes from powerful physician to contemplative patient and are with him as he decides to have a child so that he can experience the joy and pain of loving and leaving something of himself. Beautifully written, this book with its poetry and carefully crafted prose is not so much sad as instructive, offering profound insight into human mortality. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, I am planning on attending a book lover's delight: Long Island Reads on Tuesday, April 12 from 7-8:30pm at the Metropolitan in Glen Cove. Readers from all over the North Shore area join together to discuss one book- this year Jodie Picoult’s LEAVING TIME.  Well, while I enjoyed this book,  I am now looking for my next read, something perhaps that will help me understand the current geopolitical scene.  Any suggestions?    
Long Island Reads Reader

Dear L.I.R.R., I am looking forward to this event too and- yes, indeed- I have a great book for you to read next: THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS by Karan Mahajan. The novel opens in 1996 (chapter 0) with a bomb detonating in a crowded open air market in Delhi and concludes sometime post- 2016.  It is a small bomb and thirteen people are killed. The rest of the book deals with the lives impacted- the parents of two young victims, their young friend who survives, his family, the bomber, the wrongly accused, those who defend the accused, and those who torture them.  The inner lives of all these players are explored and we find a myriad of emotions and motivations- mundane and sublime in each of them.  In beautiful prose, the author shows us these small bombings which go unheralded have far, far reaching effects on victim, perpetrator, and… all of us. Highly recommended!  

Friday, April 1, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru, I have found this current election cycle fascinating and wonder how things will all work out. While I have attended a number of debate parties here in Sea Cliff,  I still crave for more insight.  Is there a book you would recommend to help me really understand what’s going on?  Election News Junkie

Dear Election News Junkie,  I just finished a fascinating historical novel that in many ways mirrors our current political scene: IMPERIUM by Robert Harris.  Set in Ancient Rome, it details the political rise of Cicero, one of Rome’s most famous rulers.  His story is told from the perspective of his slave/secretary Tiro, who invented a system of shorthand -vestiges of which we still use ( e.g. &, etc.). The Cicero we meet as a young man is from a modest middle-class background but with extraordinary intelligence and ambition. The  political world he takes on is eerily like our own: vast amounts of money spent to sway voters, the slandering of opponents and their wives,  the demonization/deification of party leaders, and terrorist attacks (in this case pirates) frightening the citizenry.  Yes,  secretly recorded conversations (ala Nixon),  political jaunts,  forged documents, and  crass entertainment-  all   play a part in  Cicero’s first election campaign. We watch with fascination, but also with a feeling of dread as we witness the escalating corruption of Rome and wonder where are we headed? Highly recommended! 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  This Friday, March 25 at 10:30am in Spooky Park,  Mike and Gwynn Lennon will be hosting their 21st Annual Egg Hunt. Afterwards  I will be meeting up with friends to celebrate Daniel DiPietro’s  birthday and I would love to have a thought-provoking book to discuss.   Egg Hunter Extraordinaire

Dear Egg Hunter Extraordinaire,  I just finished a very interesting but troubling book: A LITTLE LIFE by -Hanya Yanagihara.  I couldn’t decide whether it was a moral fable, a Dickensian melodrama, or a serious study of human suffering…. but definitely a very disturbing read. Four young men meet in a small, elite college, form a deep friendship, and move to New York City where most of the story takes place.   The thirty year time span is hard to place but probably mid-  twentieth century to the present.  All four achieve fairytale successes in their careers: prominent attorney, celebrated actor, renowned artist, awarding-winning architect.  While we learn much about all four, it is the physically and emotionally scarred Jude who remains center stage throughout.   The author’s description of  luxurious apartments, manor homes, travels abroad, drivers, servants, fine restaurant dining, beautiful clothes-  all fueled by an endless supply of money and well-connected caring friends- imbues the novel with a sense of magical realism. Nominated for both the National Book Award and the Booker Prize, this book has many fans and equally as many detractors. I am not sure which camp I would put myself in, but it is surely thought-provoking.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  This weekend I will be attending my first ceilidh- a celebration of Irish songs and poetry with acclaimed minstrel Joe Hughes leading the festivities.  I would like to do some reading ahead of time to get in the spirit of things. Any suggestions?  Lover of All Things Irish

Dear Lover of All Things Irish,  This time of year I always take out my copy of James Joyce’s THE DUBLINERS,  a collection of fifteen short stories set in early twentieth century Ireland. All are linked by a common theme: the spiritual and economic paralysis of Ireland brought on by English rule. The stories are divided into the three stages of life: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood with the concluding piece entitled “The Dead.”  Each of the characters in each of the stories faces a moment of decision but is unable to act. Pitilessly, Joyce judges Ireland and the Irish people and finds them guilty because of their failure to throw off the domination of England and its agent- the Church.  In each story, a character is allowed a moment of revelation – an epiphany. That they cannot act on their epiphanies only furthers the tragedy that Joyce sees as Ireland.  The songs and poems at your ceilidh will seem to bear little resemblance to these stories, but listen closely and you will hear Joyce’s angry, soulful message.  Highly recommended !

Check out the lecture Tuesday, March 22 7pm on James Joyce by esteemed Irish Studies expert Maureen Murphy at the Sea Cliff Village Library....