Saturday, July 25, 2020

Dear Great Book Guru, My book group is looking for a meaningful novel to discuss - something topical but also with a strong story line.  We will be meeting virtually and people have confessed to finding themselves easily distracted so we really need a compelling read.  Help!  Determined but Distracted

Dear Determined but Distracted, I have just the book for your group: SAINT X by Alexis Schaitkin. This debut novel opens in 1995 on an unnamed Caribbean Island. An affluent American family is taking their yearly island vacation to “beat the winter blues.”  It is a familiar story of leisure-seeking, racism, poverty, wealth, and elitism… but a few pages into the book the teenage daughter is found dead on the beach. The remaining 335 pages detail the impact this death has on her parents, the resort workers, their families, the aging movie star who finds her, the girl’s college classmate,  boyfriend,  teacher, and especially her seven-year-old sister.  The story jumps eighteen years and this young sister is now a fledgling book editor living in Brooklyn.  As she is about to alight from a taxi, she notices the driver’s name - it is that of one of the men originally suspected to have been involved in her sister’s death.  For the next six months, she obsessively insinuates herself into his life as she tries to learn the truth about the tragedy that shaped her life and the lives of so many.  Highly recommended!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Dear Great Book Guru, My book group has included films of interest for some of our virtual meetings, and we recently discussed Spike Lee’s DO THE RIGHT THING.  We all had so much to say about this 1989 film that I was wondering if there was a book that might stimulate a similar spirited discussion.  Any thoughts?   A Summer to Remember

Dear Summer to Remember, I just read a book that covers many of the topics your movie probably discussed, especially the sense of neighborhood and the part that it plays in our lives. James McBride’s DEACON KING KONG opens in September 1969 with the killing of a young drug dealer in Brooklyn. The highly unlikely assailant is an elderly deacon from Five Ends Baptist Church - a man known as Sportscoat.  The novel analyzes the impact the murder has on the African-American and Latino residents who witnessed it, members of the church where Sportscoat had served as deacon for many years,  the local  police, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportscoat himself. We also learn about the victim and his family… and most vividly this South Brooklyn neighborhood and the Causeway Housing Projects where the story unfolds. We see that the lives of all these people overlap in many, many ways and truth is hard to define.  McBride’s compassion for his characters is evident throughout making this a highly recommended choice!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Dear Great Book Guru, The Fourth of July has always been a favorite holiday of mine and its celebration in Sea Cliff is always grand. This year Carol Vogt and Christine Abbenda are presenting a rousing virtual celebration: a reading of the Declaration of Independence, two short playlets, songs and much more with over forty Villagers participating.  To watch, search Sea Cliff Civic Association on YouTube.  The link will also be available on the Sea Cliff Civic Association Facebook page. This event is followed at 11:30am by a car parade up and down the streets of Sea Cliff. While waiting for the festivities to begin, I would love a good book to read. Recommendations?  
Lover of the Red, White, and Blue

Dear Lover of the Red, White, and Blue, I just finished a wonderful political thriller AMERICAN SPY by Lauren Wilkinson. The story opens late at night in rural Connecticut. Marie, a young black former FBI agent, hears an intruder who is intent on assassinating her; she is able to overcome and kill him – all while her four-year old twin sons are sleeping in the next room.  We soon learn Marie is working for the CIA. Growing up in Queens with her sister and police officer father, she had always been attracted to law enforcement.  While working for the FBI, she was recruited by the CIA for a particular mission: to romantically entrap the Marxist leader of the West African country Burkina Faso.  Despite a myriad of misgivings, Marie agrees to the assignment, knowing she has been chosen only because of her race and gender.  Throughout the book, she questions her continuing loyalty to organizations that have so little regard for her.  A thoughtful look at the plight of marginalized women…. highly recommended!