Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Dear Great Book Guru, Last week you gave me a suggestion for my virtual book group which worked out very well - a combination book and movie.  We enjoyed comparing the two and those who are finding it hard to read during these stressful times were able to watch and discuss the movie. Do you have another combo we could use for next week?  Reader Viewer

Dear Reader Viewer, My virtual book group just finished a stimulating, rewarding discussion of Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel A SINGLE MAN and its 2009 movie adaptation.  Over twenty-four hours, we follow George - an Englishman living in Los Angeles - a gay man in his late fifties who is dealing with the death of his long-time partner Jim who was killed in an automobile accident eight months earlier.  The story opens as he wakes from sleep and immediately thinks of Jim.  He is indeed a grieving widower - a fact unacknowledged by society or himself.  We are with him throughout the day as he fights with his neighbors, teaches his classes, works out at his gym, watches a tennis match, shops at the supermarket, dines with a woman friend from England, flirts intellectually with a student who has followed him home, and finally drifts off to sleep. It is a beautiful story of love, grief, and eventual solace.   George - a single man in many interpretations of the phrase - is Everyman.  The movie follows George’s day in a completely different manner but both are highly recommended!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Dear Great Book Guru, For the last ten years, we have spent April in Venice. We love the city, its museums, its churches, its restaurants, its amazing light and its canals.  Well, this year, of course, we will not be in Venice, but we will be at home with lots of time to read.  Can you think of a book that is fast moving (so hard to concentrate) and evocative of our beloved “La Serenissima?”
Vicarious Venetian Voyager

Dear Vicarious Venetian Voyager, 
While there are always the Donna Leon novels with her unforgettable Brunetti, recently I read a wonderful psychological mystery set on the upper Eastside of New York City, Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, and finally - and largely – Venice: A BEAUTIFUL CRIME by Christopher Bollen.  Two young men meet in Manhattan and quickly fall in love.  Nick Brink has moved here from a repressive family situation in the Midwest. Clay Guillory was raised in Harlem and is still grieving the deaths of his mother and his elderly mentor.  When they meet, Nick is in a relationship with an older, sophisticated antiques dealer. The story quickly moves to Venice where the two young men plot an elaborate con involving a wealthy American, counterfeit silverware, and decaying real estate.  The storyline is clever and complicated with many surprise turns. The best part of the book for me - and I think for you - is how beautifully and accurately the mysterious allure of Venice is captured.  The perfect book to read in these times!