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!