Hot Stuff

TV: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back. Tituss Burgess dominates. Maybe too much this season. House of Cards. Needs two views. After second watch, some of the plot and character deficits are filled in better. But. Still. Uneven writing this year. Frank & Claire remain compelling. Speaking of Kevin Spacey. Fun host of the otherwise lackluster Tony’s.

Book Treks. 2011 – 2017.  ** Favorites.  ! Liked A Lot.  # Worth the Read.

This summer try The Honeymoon about George Eliot, The Last Painting of Sara De Vos, The Woman on the Stairs, A Gentleman in Moscow, Swans of Fifth Avenue, Paley’sCapote.

Literary Mind Craft

The Night Ocean, by Paul La Farge. I’m not sure. It kept me rapt. Author clearly had lots of things to work through. Personally. Maybe. Literarily many unfinished stories found their way into this dense work. Sprawling disjointed tales of several complex people in different times and places. Spaces. Told from a woman’s point of view, Marina the shrink, working out her own issues. The author gave her an authentic voice. It begins as her husband Charlie disappears into Agawam Lake in the Berkshires. H.S. Lovecraftian fandom less clear. More context necessary for those not acquainted with this cult of science-fiction-horror genre. Nonetheless. Worth the meandering page-turning journey. Lots to think about. La Farge’s New Yorker view.

Speaking of mind-bending. Twin Peaks so far is a self-indulgent David Lynchian acid trip with no redeeming plot value. Vomitaceous. Literally.

Ritzy Russian Read

Our NYC Book Group’s latest pick. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. Count Rostov wears a gentlemanly attitude despite his confined 30-year sojourn at the Metropole Hotel in Moscow from 1930’s to 1950’s. Under house arrest after the Revolution, this aristocrat relishes the finer things found in his new surroundings from literature to furniture to food. It’s a beautiful story of love and loyalty that takes place within the walls of this old-world hotel yet spreads its view into the history and streets of Russia throughout the decades from the Revolution to the Khrushchev years. Guests of the hotel bring worldly culture in from the cold. And the funny narrator welcomes us into the fray. A great read.

Layered Literary Canvas

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, by Dominic Smith. A beautifully written history which brings the reader into the art guilds of the Netherlands in the 1600’s. New York’s gritty Brooklyn, isolated rich on the Upper East Side in the later 1950’s. Australia in 2000. The stories are built in layers as is the painting depicted. Sara De Vos’ last oeuvre brings a poignantly perfect masterpiece of an ending to all of the disparate lives affected by her work. Prose is gorgeous. Characters provocative and real. Learned a lot about oil on canvas. One of the best reads this year.

Spring Book Treks

The Woman on the Stairs, Bernhard SchlinkBeautiful gem of a read. Sweet reckoning. Irene, the young woman on the stairs in a painting brings three men together to confront old age and their disparate pasts in Germany. Each evaluates his life as Irene reunites them on her isolated island in Australia as she faces death. All of them loved her in different ways. Possessive, obsessive, unconditional. It’s the third that is an intimate poignant connection. A story of loneliness, regret, then peace. Subtle mysteries, but not a thriller by any means. It’s a translation from the German, yet well done.

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead. The story of Cora. A young slave who runs away from her Georgia plantation. The plot follows her harrowing life as she is pursued by an obsessed Javert-esque slave catcher. Her travels take her on a real underground railroad in dark boxcars to different cities as she tries to make it to freedom. Violent and gory scenes. As was realistic. Yet. An allegorical journey. Being black in America is fraught with peril. From Cora to Trayvon. Kindnesses and horrors along the way. Stations of the Cross? To be made into a movie by Moonlight director Barry Jenkins.

Book Treks

Week in a Blink

FBI’s revelation of an investigation into Trump campaign’s possible coordination with Russia in the election. Since last July. Intelligence committee chair goes rogue with news of Dem’s counter surveillance. Supreme Court hearings. Keystone Pipeline gets the go-ahead. Paul Ryan can’t whip enough House votes to overturn ObamaCare. Poor Speaker. Wisconsin couldn’t even pull out a win in overtime.

Brackets finished. No picks left. A good book complete. The Woman on the Stairs, Bernhard Schlink. It all happened in a blink.