Monday, October 21, 2019

Dear Great Book Guru, I was so disappointed  “Starry, Starry Night” was cancelled because of rain, but I am looking forward to the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s next iconic event: the Progressive Dinner on Saturday, November 2.  I’m looking for a book  that I might bring up during the evening's festivities. Recommendation?
 Progressive Dinner Devotee

Dear Progressive Dinner Devotee, I just finished reading CATCH AND KILL by Ronan Farrow and what a story he tells. It is a meticulously researched report that reads like a Grisham legal thriller or high-tech spy novel. It begins in 2017, when Farrow is given a routine investigative assignment about a story that had been whispered about for years - movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s reputation as a bullying predator protected by wealth, influence, and powerful friends. As Farrow goes deeper into the story, high end lawyers, a mysterious international security firm, and network news executives all begin a secret campaign of intimidation.  From London to New York and beyond, forces mobilize to prevent the story from going forward, but Farrow is unrelenting. The tangled web of personal and corporate corruption he uncovers is both shocking and frightening – that so many had so much hide.  A disturbing read but highly recommended!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Dear Great Book Guru, I am looking forward to a favorite event of mine:  Sea Cliff Civic Association’s “Starry, Starry Night.” Local astronomers gather at Clifton Park to share their knowledge of the skies and the celestial musical group, The Milky Ways (Heidi Hunt and Joe Hughes) sing a series of star-studded selections.  Stellar sweet treats abound throughout the evening starting Sunday at 7pm.  While waiting for the fun to begin, I will have time for a good book.  Any recommendations? Sea Cliff Star Gazer

Dear Sea Cliff Star Gazer, Amy Waldman’s A DOOR IN THE EARTH is a book that will make you look at the world of international aid with new and cynical insight.  It is 2010 and Parveen Shams has recently graduated from Berkley. She was born in Afghanistan and moved to California as an infant with her parents.  After reading the bestselling book “Mother Afghanistan,” by an American physician, Gideon Crane, Parveen is inspired to return to her native land.  Crane had created a multimillion dollar foundation dedicated to the medical needs of the women in a small rural Afghan village. It was to honor a patient of his who had died there in childbirth.  Soon after arriving, Parveen realizes much of what Crane had written was self-serving and filled with lies. Tragically, the American military was basing strategic decisions on these falsehoods.  As one of the few people involved who speaks both English and Dari, she must decide whether to reveal the truth and endanger the lives of many or go along with Crane’s false narrative.  A difficult book to read, it is nevertheless an enlightening journey and highly recommended.   

Friday, October 11, 2019

Dear Great Book Guru,  The upcoming long weekend is a good time to relax, reflect, and- yes as always- read a good book!  A favorite author of mine-Jacqueline Woodson whose picture books, poetry, YA and adult novels have won much praise- has just come out with a new novel. I’m very excited and can’t wait to get my copy.  Have you read it and if so… your thoughts?  Autumn Reader

Dear Autumn Reader,  I too am a great fan of Jacqueline Woodson and her newest RED AT THE BONE  is truly wonderful. A quick read (about 200 pages), this novel is set largely in Brooklyn and spans over eighty years, tracing the impact place, class, gender, and race have on its characters.  The story opens at the sixteenth birthday party of Melody in her family’s brownstone.  Iris -her young mother- and she are quarrelling over music, but the reader quickly realizes their dispute has little to do with Prince lyrics.  Melody’s grandparents, who have raised her, shift back and forth in time as they recall all that has brought them to this moment, while Aubrey – Melody’s father- questions decisions made long ago.   But this is not a melancholy look at the past but instead a tribute to the enduring power of family and community. As the book’s epigraph quotes “One day chicken. Next day bone,” the lives of these characters are touched by discord, pain, kindness, disappointment, and joy.  A lyrical look at family life over generations and highly recommended!