Femmes Fatales

Women. Murder. And such. The Feud had promise. Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford. Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis. But. Acting so bad. Not campy bad. Just bad. Couldn’t get through the first episode. Big Little Lies. Nicole Kidman. Reese Witherspoon. Ditto. Derived from a typically insipid Liane Moriarty book. Girls. Lena Dunham’s best season yet.

Little Deaths, a murder mystery novel by Emma Flint. A Brit who has been obsessed with crime stories since she was a girl. An okay read with with a bit of a feminist agenda. Baileys Prize Longlist. Used to be Orange Prize. Both sponsors have since ditched. Why a segregated genre for women authors? Lots of women winners of Man Booker. Good writing is good.

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.

The Pandora Open

Comey opened the box. As soon as he tipped the lid on the FBI investigation into potential Trump world coordination with Russians in the election. All bets were off. Intelligence committee partisans unleashed. The press has been banging on the lock for months. The key is turning. Carl Bernstein has been peeking through the cracks. Hoping to reveal the next Watergate. Exaggerate-gate unhinged. Stand back. Evil humors are now released.

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.

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

Super Swirl

There’s football today? Politics has overtaken the dialogue so much that Super Bowl 51 is hardly mentioned. Trump-friendly Pats owner and players the prominent topic. Not the actual game. But. Crazy Prez has brought out Lorne Michaels’ genius again. Melissa McCarthy killed it as Sean Spicer. Alec and his scary sidekick Steve Bannon nailed it. Kristen Stewart was excellent. Skits were well written. Actually watched all of SNL for the first time in years.

Dowd has taken to writing about Mrs. T. And. New Yorker article cleverly spoofs her sneaking in at the womens’ march. Let’s face it. Melania may be the most feminist first lady ever. Refusing to follow her man to the White House.

Okay. Let’s talk about New England v. Atlanta. 24-31.