Sunday, September 17, 2023

Dear Great Book Guru,  With summer ending, I’ll so miss Sunset Serenades, breakfasts at Sea Cliff Beach, and meeting up with friends for outdoor dining throughout the Village. But now is the time to turn to some extensive reading- I have a 50 book challenge and have only read 18.  Help me, please !  Hopeful Fall Reader

Dear Hopeful Fall Reader,  I recently read a great book by a favorite author of mine: Colson Whitehead. HARLEM SHUFFLE is the first in a proposed trilogy – all to be set in Harlem over the  turbulent decades of the late twentieth century. We first meet Ray Carney in 1959. Owner of a flourishing furniture store in Harlem, Ray is confronted daily with ethical choices. As a side business he also sells jewelry and appliances  of very questionable provenance, but even his legitimate business requires payoffs to corrupt politicians and violent criminals. Always hoping to better his situation, Ray gets involved in a jewelry heist at the iconic Hotel Theresa- Harlem’s Plaza Hotel .  He realizes quickly that he has become entangled in a world of high finance and political malfeasance.  Throughout we see that Ray’s misdeeds barely register on the scales of justice with the race riots of the early 1960’s serving as a backdrop to Ray’s story. By the end of the book,  Ray is living a double life – middle class aspiring homeowner/businessman by day  and an avenging Robin Hood- like defender of his community after hours.   A very funny read and on the other hand- a complex look at what exactly  is a crime. Highly recommended!   

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