Saturday, October 28, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  Sea Cliff is ablaze with Halloween fever- so many beautifully, ghoulishly decorated homes, so many fun events!  One of my favorites is the Cider Social this Sunday, October 29 from 3 to 4pm at Central Park near the old Harbor Day Care building. Heidi Hunt and her amazing high school assistants provide crafts, music, and refreshments for the many costumed Villagers who attend.  Afterwards, I would love to have a great book to read  – preferably something short and current.   
A Cider Socialite
Dear Cider Socialite,  One of my favorite authors Alice McDermott just came out with a new book: THE NINTH HOUR.  The story opens with a young Irish immigrant turning on the gas jets in his Brooklyn tenement apartment, leaving a pregnant wife to grieve for him and whatever their future might have held.  Their grandchildren narrate the story of this ill-fated couple- going back in time to Civil War Brooklyn where we meet Red Whelan who for $350 took their great-grandfather’s place in the Union Army. He remains a vivid part of the family’s history a century after his death.  But the most vivid players in the family narrative are the Little Nursing Sisters of Sick Poor who took Annie the widow and her baby Sally on as their cause, providing them with material and spiritual care.  There is nothing saccharine about these women with each of them willing to sacrifice everything- even eternity- for the present good.  This is a dark but very rich tale and highly recommended.

And a very happy birthday to a great fan of great books….Dan DiPietro! 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  I am looking forward to the Scarecrow Gathering at the Children’s Library in Sea Cliff this Sunday, October 22 from 1 to 3pm.   Everyone is encouraged to bring a favorite scarecrow to the library’s front lawn and Mutual Concerns will have a basket for canned goods donations.  It sounds like a great autumnal afternoon and afterwards I would love an interesting book to read.  
Ardent Fan of Scarecrows

Dear Ardent Fan of Scarecrows,  I read a troubling book last week: HISTORY OF WOLVES  by Emily Fridlund.  Madeline- known as Linda by everyone other than her parents- is the sole remaining child from a disbanded commune.  She lives in a remote, decaying homestead in northern Minnesota.  Life is hard for everyone but particularly for Madeline.  Miles from her nearest neighbors and ostracized at school by her classmates, she finds her life suddenly transformed the year she turns fourteen.  A new teacher with a troubled past arrives and encourages her interest in the study of wolves  At the same time, a family moves in across the lake from her home and she is drawn to the young mother and son. She becomes the child’s babysitter or as the mother calls her “the governess.” Immediately, the reader senses something is terribly wrong but Madeline overlooks much either out of fear or adolescent narcissism.  When we meet Madeline as a grown woman in her thirties, we see how this one year so changed  her life and we are left to question – just as with wolves- when does the prey become predator? Recommended!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  We have a very busy weekend ahead here in Sea Cliff- first on Saturday there is the Silly Shakespeare’s production of “A Winter’s Fail” directed by Elizabeth Sehring in an open air setting.  On Sunday we will have “Starry Starry Night” an astronomic delight with music provided by The Milky Ways (aka  Heidi Hunt and  Joe Hughes), stellar sweets, and a chance to view the night sky with telescopes and instruction provided by a local group of enthusiasts: the Amateur Observers Society. Petrice Kaider of Sunset Serenade fame is the organizer. With so much going on, I am  looking for an enthralling but quick read.  Thoughts?   
Wishing on a Star

Dear Wishing on a Star, I just finished a fast  moving, relatively short book: LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng. The story opens with a fire that destroys a beautiful home in the affluent community of Shaker Heights, Ohio in the late “90’s.  The Richardsons – parents and four teenage children – and their tenants the Warrens – Mia and her daughter Pearl- are the main characters and we soon see how all are connected  as the story shifts from present to past. What makes a good parent is a question that underlies much of the storyline as Elena Richardson and Mia Warren vie for their daughters’ approval.   While good intentions abound, misunderstandings and missed cues accentuate economic, racial, and class differences.  Who or what can put out these fires?   A great choice for a book club with many issues ripe for discussion –highly recommended!  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru, With the long Columbus Day weekend coming up, I’m planning on spending my days and nights in Sea Cliff- it’s such a beautiful time of year here and the perfect opportunity to read a good novel.  Any suggestions? 
Loving October in Sea Cliff

Dear Loving…. I just finished a fun book I’m sure you will enjoy: THE MISFORTUNE OF MARION PALM  by Emily Culliton. It’s a first novel, and the young author is skillful at capturing voice and venue. Marion Palm is a Brooklyn Heights mother who has been embezzling money from her daughters’ exclusive private school.  When the book opens, Marion has just learned the IRS is about to audit the school’s tax returns.  She packs a knapsack with $40,000 in cash, takes her children out to a local restaurant for a farewell lunch, skips out without paying, and thus begins her odyssey through the outlying neighborhoods of Brooklyn in an attempt to avoid her clueless poet- husband, a baffled detective, and an avenging school board. It’s a madcap journey with strong feminist undertones as she confronts and defies many of society’s stereotypes.  Told in very short chapters in the voices of Marion, her husband, and daughters, the novel is a compelling read and highly recommended!