Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  Thanksgiving weekend is upon us and I look forward to time with friends and family but also time for a good read- something thought provoking yet entertaining …any recommendations?  
Thankful for Thanksgiving

Dear Thankful for Thanksgiving,  My book group last week discussed a modern classic REMAINS OF THE DAY by Kazuo  Ishiguro and we all agreed it was a wonderful choice.  While many had seen the award winning movie, few of us remembered reading this 1989 Nobel Prize winning novel.  Set in the early 1950’s, it is told from the first person perspective of Stevens, an aging British butler. Stevens had spent much of his life in the service of Lord Darlington and is now employed by a wealthy American  – as part of “a package”--the American  is the new owner of Darlington Hall and Stevens heads the staff that accompanies the manor.  Stevens thinks back on his unquestioning loyalty to a man who is revealed to be a Nazi sympathizer and a mediocre dabbler in world politics.  When he has the opportunity to travel the back roads of England, Stevens decides to visit Miss Kenton, a woman he had worked with decades before.  As he reminisces about their years together, we begin to realize there was great affection between them that was never articulated.  When Stevens meets her, she is unhappily married and voices  regret over choices she has made.  Stevens obviously is moved but even now cannot reveal his true feelings.  A story of remembrance and regret as these characters view the “remains of their days….”   Highly recommended!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  We are looking at another busy weekend here in Sea Cliff with the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary celebration at the Children’s Library on Friday, November 17 from 5 to 7pm and then the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s annual Turkey Hunt ( 400 toy turkeys waiting to be found) with the promise of a visit from the Great Turkey Himself on Sunday, November 19 from 2 to 3pm at Geohegan Park- ominously aka Headless Park.  After the weekend I am looking to do some serious reading.   Any thoughts?
Fall Reader

Dear Fall Reader,  Last month at the Brooklyn Historical Society,  I heard Linda Gordon speak about her latest book: THE SECOND COMING OF THE KKK.   In the 1920’s the United States saw a revival of the Klu Klux Klan, focused largely east of the Mason Dixon line.  The original KKK of the 1870’s had intimidated  African Americans living in the South, successfully curtailing their voting rights and economic prosperity through stealth violence.   The new Klan broadened its range to include Catholics, Jews,  immigrants, and Northern “elites.”  Unlike the early Klan who attacked secretly during the night, the new Klansmen ran huge public rallies,  recruited members openly, charged dues, and owned over 200 newspapers and even a motion picture company.  Public officials including many Congressmen, a Supreme Court Justice, and  a President were  members.  The new Klan’s attraction seemed to lie in its ability to offer an “us against them” level of comfort to a large part of the population.  Prejudices were already in place, and the Klan was ready and eager to exploit them.   A startling read and highly recommended!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru, We have a three day weekend coming up with the children off from school. First, we will attend the Veterans’ Memorial Service at Clifton Park on Friday at 11am and then it’s off to the city. With train time and a weekend without chores, I would love to read a good novel- something thought-provoking and literary.  
Reader of Novels in November

Dear Reader of Novels… Jon McGregor’s latest book RESERVOIR 13 has been nominated for the prestigious Man Booker award and would be a good choice for your upcoming weekend.  Rebecca Shaw disappears while on vacation with her parents in a small village in England’s Lake district- a place  they have visited many times before.  The novel is divided into thirteen chapters each covering a year following her disappearance. We meet the villagers as they live their lives – marrying, being born, separating, starting businesses, graduating from school- all impacted but  not consumed by the girl’s plight. Reminiscent of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” or James Joyce’s “The Dubliners,” the novel is an homage to the  magnificence of our petty concerns- those wondrous  distractions that move  our lives from day to day.   In the end, we know little about the fate of Rebecca but we have learned much about ourselves.  A beautifully written book and highly recommended!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru, This weekend I am going to be hosting my very first Progressive Dinner.  Every year the Sea Cliff Civic Association sponsors this iconic event at which almost 200 residents get to share appetizers, dinners, and dessert at each other’s homes.  I have my menu in place, my table set, and flowers arranged- but what will we talk about?  I was thinking I would bring up a new book that might spark some lively conversation.  Any suggestions?  Progressive Dinner Diner and Host

Dear PDDH,  Great idea and I have just the book for you:  THE ROOSTER BAR by John Grisham.  This is the latest legal thriller from the  ever prolific Grisham and his focus this time is the scam behind for-profit law schools that lure  students with the promise of high paying jobs while hiding   the  reality of staggering tuition debt     Mark, Todd, Gordy, and Zola are in their final semester at Foggy Bottom Law School with no prospects for employment and student loans close to $200,000 each.  After meticulous, manic research, Gordy discovers their school is one of a chain that is run by a corrupt hedge fund operator mired in numerous banking and investment scandals.  When Gordy dies, the friends decide to start their own law firm… without law degrees.  Things go well until things go very badly and only Grisham can make it all come together so seamlessly.  A great tale of greed, friendship, and redemption- highly recommended!