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!