Monday, January 21, 2019

Dear Great Book Guru,  Last weekend I was at a delightful dinner with friends (most delicious butternut squash soup ever!) where someone mentioned a new book about Lake Success -a neighborhood bordering Queens and Nassau- a place many of us knew. Are you familiar with this novel?
Dining with Delight

Dear Dining with Delight, LAKE SUCCESS by Gary Shteyngart is the story of one man’s search for the perfect life. Barry Cohen is a forty-five year-old Princeton grad who manages a billion dollar hedge fund and lives a life of incredible wealth and good fortune with $20, 000 glasses of whiskey and an extensive collection of million dollar watches. When we first meet Barry in 2016, his fortunes have just taken a hit - his perfect wife despises him, his perfect child has been diagnosed as severely autistic, his perfect hedge fund is collapsing, and Barry himself is being pursued by the FBI for insider trading. His solution is to board a Greyhound bus and travel cross country in search of a long-lost college girlfriend who will make his life perfect again. Barry is a supremely narcissistic character that both horrifies and fascinates us. This Master of the Universe offers us a glimpse into a world in which most of us are outsiders looking on from the shores of a mythical Lake Success.  Recommended!   

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Dear Great Book Guru, I was at a Family Holiday Party in Point Lookout last week and one of my cousins mentioned a novel her book club was reading. It sounded interesting but also disturbing; the author was Christopher Yates but she couldn’t remember the title.  Any thoughts?  Point Lookout Partygoer

Dear Point Lookout Partygoer, GRIST MILL ROAD by Yates is indeed a disturbing book and a great book club selection.  The novel opens in 1982 as a twelve year-old boy watches his best friend tie up and shoot a thirteen year old classmate. His description of the girl’s injuries is horrific and his guilt ridden inertia and cool fascination startling.  The book quickly shifts to 2008 where we meet the three characters now grown and bizarrely connected.  The remainder of this literary mystery shifts back and forth between 1982 and 2008 as each of them tells the story of that devastating moment from a different perspective.  We soon realize that things were not as we first thought and there is much shared guilt.   We see how the shooting has impacted their lives especially that of the onlooker, and our sympathy shifts from one character to the next as we learn about their early years and the painful adversities that shaped each of them.  Highly recommended!