First things first this week! We must give a shout out and thank you to Nina and Dave M who obeyed us this week and found space in the suitcase for some stellar taffy. Thanks Nina and Dave! It was delish. Remember People! We are here at home, tending to things while you Summer. The weather has been so delightfully cool it’s safe to put fudge in the suitcase too. The message from the SoNo Loft this week is an interesting one. " We Are All Shamans." Merriam Webster defines a Shaman as “someone who is believed in some cultures to be able to use magic to cure people who are sick, to control future events, etc.” We all have the power to bring a little magic into each other’s lives. Sometimes it’s in the form of Taffy and Fudge. Sometimes it’s finding the absolutely right book that is needed at exactly that moment. Think about how much those small things can mean and then make sure that you do a Shaman like deed this week. This weekend Erin will be at Weed Beach from 10-2 spreading a whole lot of Summer Magic in the form of Darien Library Koozies (sanctioned beverages only please), a nice selection of summer reads and of course some friendly games of cornhole. Stop by, say hi and remember no wagering! This week we have some sailing, a murder, a stack, some dementia, a 14-year-old, spy craft, Australia, and of course we have The Playlist!
Let us begin!
Erin has been using our very cool streaming tool Hoopla. “This weekend I watched an excellent documentary that I borrowed through Hoopla. The film Maidentrip follows Laura Dekker, the Dutch teenager who became the youngest woman to sail around the world solo. It is part adventure story, part coming-of-age documentary and is mostly comprised of Laura’s own footage. I was completely enthralled with Laura’s insights into travel, patriotism, independence, and family. Because the film follows her two-year journey, you actually see her grow up on screen. I highly recommended it.”
Sweet Ann has just finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. “This novel takes place in the beautiful community of Pirriwee, Australia. It is at the public school where we meet the main characters of this novel when three women enroll their children in kindergarten. Madeline has a daughter with her second husband entering the school, as well as an older daughter. Celeste is married with twin boys and is keeping a dark secret from her friends. Jane is a single mom with a son who is new to the town. This novel opens with a murder and then takes the reader back to months before the incident. While the novel does have humor, Ms. Moriarty tackles some serious subjects as well in her story. There is bullying, infidelity, and domestic abuse. This is a real page turner .”
Abby is tackling The Stack that we all have. Here is what she thought of Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. “Over vacation I vowed to read a book that’s been on the To Be Read Stack for a long time. I can be fussy about how an author puts together a story and this complex and layered mystery converges beautifully. At the center of the story is Jackson Brodie, a former police officer turned private investigator. Brodie feels badly for billing clients for lost causes but understands a case may sometimes be about more than a result. Sometimes a desperate person just wants to know someone is working on their behalf. The story begins with a missing child from an eccentric family 35 years ago and the impact that event had on the family. Case Histories is a poignant mix of hope and sadness. I plan to read more of her work. “
Laura is in the middle of reading Jo Walton’s My Real Children. “I am reading a novel that has been classified as a science fiction novel, but I am not convinced that it is sci-fi. Jo Walton's My Real Children begins in 2015, in a hospital where the elderly protagonist Patty is suffering from memory loss. Then 100 plus pages into the book, the story revolves around two story lines of Patty's character during World War II. One is a loving, youthful and promising courtship turned depressing marriage. The other life is free of the traditional bounds of the era raising three children with her lesbian lover, and openly living between sunny Italy and England. The time frame and the use of switching the protagonist’s story lines is very similar to Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, which I truly loved reading. My Real Children is easy to read, so I am not going to give up on it.”
Virginia, everyone’s favorite Tall Cool Texan is a little late to the party for Tell the Wolves I 'm Home but we’re happy she showed up just the same. What’s your take Virginia? “You will have to excuse my rambling, but I am suffering from a book hangover. You know the feeling, where you stay up all night, telling yourself, ‘just one more chapter,’ and then the next thing you know its daylight and you finished the book. Then comes the regret because when you find a book that good, you want to portion it out and make it last as long as possible. This is exactly what happened to me with the exceptional Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. The book actually came out in 2012 and I am not sure how I missed it. It’s set in 1987 and is a coming of age story for June Elbus, a shy fourteen-year-old girl who just lost her beloved uncle to AIDS. It is about the power of love, the impact of death, the effects of disease, and the strength of friendship and family. It is a beautiful book and has just moved to the top of my summer favorites.”
Stephanie is avoiding Real World Duties our favorite way. By escaping into a book. No judging Steph. No judging, “I had such a great time reading Back Channel by Stephen L. Carter. I was supposed to be doing important things, and ignored all of them to finish the book, because once I got into it, I couldn’t stop myself. Carter, who is a master of gripping historical fiction, has imagined a world in which the Cuban Missile Crisis is only resolved through the daring work of Miss Margo Jensen. Margo, one of the only black women attending Cornell, thinks her life is complicated enough, and then she’s accidentally (or is it an accident?), through a professor, pulled into a web of spy craft that would make John Le Carre drool. She becomes the only person through whom Khrushchev will communicate. The only way she can get his messages to Kennedy is to take advantage of Kennedy’s reputation and appear to become one of his mistresses. As with any Cold War spy story, there are double crosses galore, and the suspense is killer. I honestly had no idea whether Carter was going to actually resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis! Historical fiction, literary fiction, thriller, this book has got everything.
Thomas and I have been working through Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Miss Krishna and Miss Elisabeth of the CL are rabid evangelists for this series and with good reason. But make no mistake; this is a most adult series. The Honorable Phryne Fisher is taking 1920’s Melbourne by storm and advertising her availability as a Lady Detective. She solves murders, has men panting at her feet, and she enjoys every moment. The cinematography is lush and the period details are wonderful.
What’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC doing in the State Which Shall Not Be Named this weekend? She’s here to tell us. Hey Pats! “We’ve returned from Up North and this Saturday we’ll be parked in lawn chairs enjoying the world’s largest one-day rolling car show down Woodward Avenue aka America’s first highway. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Woodward Dream Cruise. It’s a big ole slice of Americana. People are already camping out in lawn chairs lining the Avenue, swapping and sharing stories of cars they’ve owned or otherwise longed to own. Last year, I mistakenly found myself driving smack in the middle of it. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Everyone was happy, windows rolled down, tops off the convertibles all sharing a high that might have had something to do with the primitive emissions systems on the older cars or just a shared love of a wheeled machine. Imagine 40,000 classic cars and 1 million people here for the event. Now imagine how excited my 7-year-old son will be as it rolls down OUR street. I call everything a “rat rod” just ‘cause I like the phrase. I am corrected by my son who then gives me the actual make of the vehicle. He’s like the Rain Man of automobiles. Though I love this celebration and communion of folks with a shared love of tinkering, wheels and stories, I must admit that I don’t love the pollution it spews. So here’s another Detroit story about a greener, but equally cool cruise. So wherever you are, jump in your own personal ‘rat rod,’ roll down the windows, crank up the tunes and enjoy this uniquely American pleasure. Certainly a cruise of this magnitude deserves a serious playlist and a hashtag. Yep, we’ve got that covered. Follow along with #WoodwardDreamCruise on Twitter and Instagram.
I’ll see you on the road.