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.

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.

Byrning House

Burning Down the House. No. Not Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s Donald Trump dilemma.

burning down the houseA new novel by Jane Mendelsohn. Her work combines David Byrne’s classic Talking Heads songs with Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre in a new Broadway musical. Sounds cool. Right? Too bad it’s a minor aside to the main plot. What? Yup. Never a clear connection to the story of anti sex-trafficking causes. I don’t mind a political agenda. Just don’t pose it as a fictional work. Other that that. The cover attracted me to the depiction of the San Remo on the Upper West Side. Problem was. Everyone in the book lives either in the Village or on the Upper East Side. Calling all editors. Anyway. Liked the cover. Love David Byrne.

2015 Downs & Ups

Downs

End of MadMen.
Brute violence. NFL. Goodell.
Tiger’s final demise. Golf as a fun to watch sport.
Girl on the Train. Fates and Furies. Hyped books.
Emojis. Symbols that replace words.
ISIS thugs. Paris. U.S. World. Under Siege.
Guns. Guns. Guns.
Too many good ones gone.

Ups

MadMen ending. The real thing.
The Affair. Ray Donovan.
Trump & Renegade Repubs.
Pope Francis charms the U.S.
New York weekends. Ocean Grill. Mermaid Inn.
Travel Treks. Cathy & Krusty. IMG_0658
IMG_1473Van Gogh at the Clark, Williamstown.
Forked around Long Island twice. DSC_0050

 

Ogilvy Account Director mAdBen. Seattle star.

 

Carol’s Short List 2015

It’s that time of year. Best Book Lists. The Man Booker Short List was filled with dark subject matter. So unappealing as not to even pick one up. Several of them overlapped with other lists as well. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff was on NYTimes and WaPo. I found it just so-so. Franzen is the most dreadful of all writers in my opinion, his Purity again made a few. The Girl on the Train another disappointment. It’s now going to be a film, too.

I read a lot in 2015. My faves made no list. I didn’t give any five stars.
Here they are, all four star:

The Girl in the Spider’s Web, David Lagercrantz
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley
Muse, Jonathan Galassi
Church of Marvels, Leslie Parry
The Mad Boy, My Grandmother and Me, Sofka Zinovieff