Sunday, July 30, 2023


Dear Great Book Guru, Last week I was at Clifton Park for the Sea Cliff Civic Association’s Sunset Serenade ….what a night it was! LOVEPEACE was the band, and the music and mood were rhapsodic.  While there, I overheard a group of people talking about a new book that was quite a compelling read. It was about a murder trial, but it hit on so much more. Ideas?  Sunset Serenade Fan

Dear Sunset Serenade Fan,  TRIAL by Richard North Patterson is a much talked about legal thriller that came out a few weeks ago.  The story opens in the present as a wealthy, Harvard educated politician, Chase Brevard, is planning his next career move. A Congressman from Massachusetts, he is considering running for the Senate when he sees on CNN a breaking story about a black teenager accused of murdering a deputy sheriff in Georgia. The case is receiving national attention because the boy’s mother is a prominent political activist who has championed voter rights and her son was canvassing when the murder took place. They insist that he was targeted by the sheriff and the death was an accident. Brevard realizes the boy is his son and the mother a woman he knew from college. The novel then traces the lives of the couple from their first meeting up to the present showing how wealth, race, and privilege brought them all to this moment.  The actual trial is a tense exposition of the effects of media and legal maneuvering with a shocking outcome.   Highly recommended!

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Dear Great Book Guru, I was at Sea Cliff Beach for breakfast the other day (amazing avocado toast by Foster’s Javier!} when the question of parking came up.  Most people would prefer to walk to the beach but that walk back up the hill discourages even the most fit… so many drive leaving everyone with the search for parking and it can be quite a search. Someone mentioned a book which deals with parking  and its ramifications. Does this sound familiar?  Seaside Parker

Dear Seaside Parker, I recently read a quirky albeit fascinating book by Henry Graber: PAVED PARADISE- How Parking Explains the World. Graber’s contention is that parking has had a crushing effect on multiple aspects of American life. Since the advent of the car, we have spent precious resources and demolished our homes and cities in a quest for increased car storage.  Our most valuable real estate is handed over for largely free car storage, while curbside parking changes businesses, residences, and our very image of self. Public transit is sacrificed to the gods of car storage, zoning laws are predicated on it,   and public space is curtailed – all so that there are “homes” for cars. Graber travels across the country from New York City to Los Angeles and every major city in between to show the impact of car parking. He goes so far as to blame the present housing shortage and rise in homelessness to this obsession with parking. His goal is to show us the folly of our present day thinking and to offer us solutions for this perceived madness. Recommended!


 Dear Great Book Guru, The Fourth of July weekend here in Sea Cliff is filled with great events: the Patriotic Bike Parade, Happy Birthday USA, and the Reading of the Declaration of Independence on Village Green. So much to do …but I am always ready for a new book - perhaps a mystery?  Summer Mystery Maven

Dear Summer Mystery Maven, Every summer I look forward to reading a new Donna Leon novel and I was not disappointed with her latest, SO SHALL YOU REAP, her 32nd in the series. And what a treat it is!  All 32 books feature Guido Brunetti, a world weary, very wise Venetian police commissioner. These novels are gentle literary mysteries with many references to opera, Henry James (Brunetti’s wife Paola is a professor of American literature), Proust, and the ancient Roman philosophers. Food and drink are described in great detail, as are the canals and neighborhoods of Venice - often little known to tourists. In this latest book, Brunetti investigates the murder of a Sri Lankan  man who has been living illegally in the country for many years. A Buddhist who has lived a circumspect life, the man seems a most unlikely victim of violence. When Brunetti discovers a trove of books and pamphlets dating back to Italy’s 1970’s  political unrest, he struggles to connect the present to the past - and wonders where his own youthful revolutionary beliefs might have led him.  As usual the crime is overshadowed by the intellectual musings of this complex man. Highly recommended!