Monday, June 18, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru,  Sea Cliff Beautification Committee will hold its Secret Garden Tour on Saturday, June 30 from 10 to 3 and I will be stationed at a friend’s beautiful backyard.   There will be time I’m sure for some good reading before and after…any suggestions?  Secret Garden Sojourner
Dear Secret Garden Sojourner,  I just finished one of the best books I have read this year: BAD BLOOD by Wall Street Journal investigative reporter John Carreyrou.  This book has it all-  intrigue, corruption, jealousy, paranoia, lies, romance,  redemption, and a cast of unbelievably colorful characters. Elizabeth Holmes began Theranos- a company based on a revolutionary blood testing concept- in 2004 when she was nineteen years-old. By 2015 she was declared the youngest female billionaire with a paper fortune of nine billion dollars. This past weekend she was indicted for fraud and her fortune devalued to zero.  Carreyrou’s book underscores the power of lies, charisma, and greed. Backed by powerful but smitten men including Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, General Mattis, Rupert Murdoch, corporate CEO’s of Walgreens and  Safeway, and a bevy of world famous scientists,  Holmes carried off this  billion dollar scam.  It is an  incredible story- a cautionary tale indeed but more over a great read- not to be missed…highly recommended!      

Monday, June 11, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru, This Sunday June 17 is Father’s Day and I am planning a family get together. We will also be celebrating  Bloomsday- the annual tribute to James Joyce’s “Ulysses”- definitely two reasons for a great book gift for the fathers in my life.  Any suggestions?  Father’s Day Frantic
Dear Frantic,   Consider Michael Chabon’s newest book POPS: a short collection of provocative essays about fatherhood.  He opens up with advice he received from a famous albeit unidentified author: if you want to be a great writer don’t have children- too much of a distraction. Chabon went on to have four children and  has written eighteen books,  but he still wonders if he could have been a better writer or better father if only … .In the other essays he talks about moral dilemmas he has faced as a father, ranging from a racially aware  reading of Huckleberry Finn, discouraging his son from playing Little League baseball although he himself loves the game, encouraging another young son in his  fashion- based consumerism, addressing the social repression of junior high students, all culminating in the last piece: a reflection of his own father’s  very different parenting style and what he learned from him.  Definitely an interesting take on raising children from a thoughtful, talented writer…. Recommended!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Dear Great Book Guru, Another busy Sea Cliff weekend- on Saturday, June 9 at 6pm there will be the annual Fire Departmental Inspection in front of the Fire House and then on Sunday there will be music and fun events from Noon to 4:00 along Sea Cliff Avenue with SpringFest 2018. As summer begins,   I am looking for something a little different to read, and I do always like short…    
Loving June in Sea Cliff
Dear Loving June…., I read a very unusual, very enjoyable, very short book this weekend: CIRCE by Madeline Miller.  It is told from the perspective of the Circe, a minor Greek goddess who has been hailed and reviled throughout literature.  We probably know her best from the “Odyssey” where she turns Odysseus’s men into swine, but is able to seduce him with her magical charms.   She also features in the myths of Scylla and Charybdis, the Minotaur, Jason and Medea, Prometheus, Daedalus, and the Fall of Icarus.   Miller reinvents and expands these stories to reveal a world not unlike our own.  In this strongly feminist interpretation, we  come to see ourselves as Circe stumbles through history in her search for enlightenment and redemption.  Highly recommended!