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 CafĂ©, 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!