Sunday, July 10, 2022

 Dear Great Book Guru, This past weekend, I attended my first Progressive Dinner - what fun! Every Fall the Sea Cliff Civic Association hosted this event… until 2020 when the world changed, but with the idea of an all-outdoor event, Progressive Dinner BBQ came into being. With over eighty people participating, an array of beautiful gardens and patios and perfect weather, the event was a spectacular success. While at dessert, someone mentioned a short, very funny book about the art world - are you familiar with it?  Progressive Dinner Devotee

Dear Progressive Dinner Devotee, I am still laughing days after having read ST. SEBASTIAN’S ABYSS by Mark Haber. This very short (150 pages) novel deals with obsessions, friendship, and art in a hugely comic manner. We meet our unnamed narrator as he is flying to Berlin to meet up with his dying friend, Schmidt. The two men had met as students at Oxford while studying art history. They had noticed a cheap reproduction of a 16th century forgotten masterpiece, St. Sebastian’s Abyss, in a textbook.  Both men were transfixed by this fictional painting of the apocalypse.  Their careers (20 plus books on the subject) were based entirely on this one painting.  The narrator attributes his two divorces to disagreements over the worth of the work and his wives’ inability to share his passion. Schmidt and himself have also been estranged because of the painting. As the two men meet and have their final debate, the reader is caught up in this comically passionate absurdity.  Highly Recommended!  

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