Books for Winter’s Return

Two modern mysteries for cold and windy March days. Both good in different ways.

Dark Rooms, Lili AnolikBilled as a Secret History prep murder redux. Not that at all. Set in (West?) Hartford, Connecticut, the boarding school itself never came to life. Grace’s sister Nica is found dead from a gunshot wound in the nearby cemetery. Plot twists yes. Many reviewers had issues with the so-called “rapist” in the plot. Not. It portrayed a mother’s extraordinary evil.

The Girl Before, JP DelaneySad that so many recent best-sellers have ‘girl’ rather than more accurate ‘woman’ in the titles. Gone Girl. Girl on the Train. Anyway. Another back and forth- this one between two women. Emma then. Jane now. A device that worked well here and even melded the two when it was right to do so. An austere technocratic architecturally-renowned house in London the setting for this psycho-drama. Soon a Ron Howard movie.

The New Abnormal

Global warming? Balmy February in New York. Rowboats on the Lake. rowboats-in-feb

Bannon’s economic nationalism. Dismantling administrative state. Trump golfing with Els and McIlroy. The new abnormal.

Books are still normal. Just finished a good one. The Honeymoon, Dinitia Smith. A novel about literary icon George Eliot’s life and last honeymoon. Which was a doozy. See review here. Oscars. Ho-hum. This year.

Winter Book Reviews

News of the World, Paulette Jiles. Our second NYC Book Club pick. A short sweet novel. Jefferson “Captain” Kidd reads the news of the world, literally, to small town Texas folk in the 1870’s. The gentleman widower rides on horseback from town to town regaling people with tales from around the world for a dime. He is a welcomed attraction. Intellectual, articulate, well-mannered. Then. He accepts a mission to return a 10-year old girl who has been “rescued” from captivity by the Kiowa Indians to her relatives. Along the way adventures ensue and an endearing relationship is beautifully portrayed.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue, Melanie Benjamin. Conjuring Dominick Dunne. Gossipy. Juicy. Dishy fiction. Truman Capote & Upper Fifth Avenue “social x-rays” of the 50’s-70’s. Women who traded on their looks to snag the richest if otherwise unappealing men of their time. Superficial. Lonely. Materialistic. Narcissistic. Yup. All of that. Bill & Babe Paley. Pamela Harriman. Name dropping on every page. If only half the stories were true. Lots of fun to read.

Book Treks

Snowflake Alert!

Nope. Not many real snowflakes this winter. At least not in the City. Not yet. But. To all you snowflakes out there. Huddled in your safe zones. In denial that the Pats are owned by Trump buddy Bob Kraft. And that recent golf partner Tiger missed the cut.

Here are 3 suggestions to thwart TTSD:  1) Watch old episodes of Billy on the Street.  2) Read spy novels by Alex Berenson.  3) Listen to Bruce Springsteen read his autobiography.

Hasta Luego to our doorman Pedro. 42 years at the same building. West Side Rag.

Don Trumpo y Sancho Penza

“He was spurred on by the conviction that the world needed his immediate presence.”  -Cervantes

Tilting at every windmill. Chasing larger-than-life glory. In gilded armor, Don is saddled up and ready to ride into Washington, D.C. The knight-errant has zig-zagged through life to become El-Jefe-in-Chief. El Hidalgo Trumpo de Queens makes it to the top of the peak. From his White House Castillo with loyal little Sancho Penza in tow they’ll take on foes from far and wide. Will it be Aldonza Melania or Dulcinea Ivanka by his side.  ¿¡Viva!? o ¿¡Cuidado!?

2016 Good Bad Ugly

Good

Sold 20-year Western Mass. house
New digs in The City
sidetrek.nyc
TV-The Crown, Ray Donovan, Happy Valley, The Circus
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Book-Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Music-Blue & Lonesome, The Rolling Stones
Disruption of both political parties
Voters over donors

 

Bad

Petulant Adolescent President- elect
Lumping people into monolithic groups
Elite media bubble & bias
Election’s coarse discourse
Syrian holocaust- refugees
Tiger’s self-inflicted spiral

Ugly

TTSD (Traumatic Trump Stress Disorder)

Book Treks 2016

2016 Reads. Best: Enter Helen, Brooke Hauser’s Helen Gurley Brown bio; Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance’s timely memoir. The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena is a page-turner mystery for a rainy day. Garth Risk Hallberg’s debut novel of seedy ’70’s New York, City on Fire is a bit unevenDelia Ephron’s Siracusa missed the mark, but it’s a quick trip to Sicily. Elena Ferrante and Alice Hoffman’s works disappointing. Carol’s 2016 Full List and Reviews here.

Our newly formed NYC Uptown Book Club picks for 2017 include: The Vanishing Velázquez, Laura Cumming; News of the World, Paulette Jiles; Nutshell, Ian McEwan; The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead; Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter; Everybody’s Fool, Richard Russo; A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles; 32 Yolks, Eric Ripert.