Friday, September 29, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  This weekend is Minimart Sunday and I am very excited. My friends from high school all return so it’s a Mini reunion. We especially love visiting the Children’s Library with its vast array of great used toys and books.  Talking about books, do you have a novel with a current events theme? Perhaps a spy novel…?   MiniMart Maven

Dear MiniMart Maven,  I just finished a remarkable book: DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH - a spy novel, a romance, a literary mystery,  a political thriller- set in the Israel, Gaza, Paris, and Berlin.  The story is told from the perspectives of Z an imprisoned American, his betraying lover, his Israeli guard, the guard’s mother, a German businessman, and finally a comatose Israeli general, modeled closely after Ariel Sharon. As the story weaves back and forth over a twelve year period,  we see how each of the individuals we meet influences the others in remarkable ways.  There are no heroes and no villains in this novel and apparently little hope for optimism. Its author Nathan Englander was born in West Hempstead, Long Island and the novel’s pivotal character Z is also a Long Islander. The moral dilemma Z faces leaves the reader wondering if peace is ever possible.  A compelling book and highly recommended !

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  We are headed into New York City to the East 59th Street Playhouse to see SMALL WORLD by renowned playwright and local resident Frederick Stroppel.  Friends who have seen it, tell us it is wonderful and not to be missed.  We will be taking the train so I would like to have something to read for the trip back and forth. Any ideas?
Fans of Fred

Dear Fans of Fred, We loved SMALL WORLD and plan on seeing it again – and I do have an interesting book for your trip: WHAT SHE ATE by Laura Shapiro.  Shapiro writes about six women and the role food played in their lives.  Starting with Dorothy Wordsworth and her culinary devotion to her poet brother William and ending with Helen Gurley Brown and her obsession with thinness, Shapiro shows us the often overlooked cultural impact of food.  Eva Braun, Hitler’s lover, found comfort in sweets and champagne as millions suffered. The colorful Rosa Lewis rose from kitchen waif to the Duchess of Duke Street and became the prototype for Eliza Dolittle in “My Fair Lady,”  all based on her culinary acumen. Eleanor Roosevelt is purported to have hired the worst chef in White House history as a punishment for Franklin’s  infidelities. Her most charming piece is on Barbara Pym, one of Shapiro’s favorite authors. Pym filled her novels with recipes and culinary asides underscoring how life’s seemingly trivial gestures offer the greatest opportunities for happiness.  A lovely, informative book and highly recommended!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  I am going to the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s Newcomers Party next weekend.  I am looking forward to meeting the fifty or so others who have moved to Sea Cliff over the last twelve months, but I am a bit shy.  If I had a good book to bring up, it might make things easier.  Any ideas?
Eager but Nervous Newcomer

Dear Eager but Nervous….No need to be anxious…. I am sure you will have a great time –  but  I do have a book you might enjoy:  THERE YOUR HEART LIES by Mary Gordon.  This is the story of Marian Taylor, who we meet as a young nineteen year-old Newport debutante who leaves her life of ease and affluence to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade- a group of idealistic Americans who came together to fight  Franco and the Nazis in the Spanish Civil War.  She marries her dead brother’s lover so that they can travel to Spain as part of a medical team.  Quickly disillusioned by the internecine fighting, the couple rethink their commitment to the war and to each other.  We then meet Marion as a ninety-two year-old woman back in Rhode Island sharing her memories with Amelia, her young granddaughter.  When pieces of the story fail to make sense,  Amelia returns to Spain to search out the truth.  This is a fascinating tale of one woman’s attempt to come to terms with her past and of a country still coping with the horrific aftermath of civil war.  Recommended!  
P.S. Don't miss the renowned ANTIGONE RISING  musical event from noon... on at Sea Cliff Beach- Saturday, September 16 !  

Friday, September 8, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  My friends and I are planning to attend the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s annual Movie Madness this Friday, September 8 at 7pm in Roslyn Park.   Sarah Beaudin, chair of the event, promises us a surprise- filled evening beginning with a showing of the original Disney “Beauty and the Beast.”  The next night we are headed down to Sea Cliff Beach for the Sea Cliff Fire Department’s Music on the Harbor. Sounds like a great weekend,  but I need a good book to read while waiting for the fun to begin.         Lover of Weekends in Sea Cliff

Dear Lover of…. Yes- you have  quite a weekend ahead and I have the perfect book for you: TRAJECTORY by Richard Russo. This is a collection of four short stories linked by a similar theme – the fragility of human nature. We are shown in each story how one incident changes the course of a person’s life.  In “Horseman”  a young academic is confronted with the realization that much of her career has been as fraudulent as her young students’ plagiarized papers.  Will she be able to redeem herself- where will her trajectory take her? In “Voice” a retired academic tours Venice with his brother and finds how estranged they have always been, but will he be able to forgive himself for past missteps?  A real estate broker helps a hoarding client find peace in “Intervention” and in the last “Milton and Marcus”  an aging and struggling writer tries to change the course of his life.   An illuminating collection and highly recommended!