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

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.