Archive for June 29, 2010

Jersey Girls

A sure sign of summer is the appearance of a new Stephanie Plum mystery by New Jersey native Janet Evanovich. In Sizzling Sixteen -set in Trenton as always– our favorite bounty hunter Stephanie along with her sidekicks get caught up in more bounty hunting escapades with the usual hilarious results.
Mystery writer Donna Leon (also New Jersey born) the creator of the critically acclaimed Commissario Brunetti series set in Venice –where the author now resides–latest offering A Question of Belief has our intrepid detective dealing with another murder case complicated by political corruption and human failings. Fans love Brunetti because he manages to remain humane and moral despite the depravity he encounters. Brunettii’s wonderful family and the vivid descriptions of the Venice all the characters love provide balance.
Read Evanovich to laugh. Read Donna Leon to think.

Icons in Rome

Archaeologists working in Rome have unearthed what is believed to be the first iconical representations of Saints Peter, Paul, James and John. The icon was discovered in the catacombs beneath an office building on a busy thoroughfare in Rome. Archaeologists were able to use a laser technique which allows them to burn off white calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the paintings underneath. The images date from the second half of the fourth century and depict Christ as the Good Shepherd in the center of the painting surrounded by the four apostles. The Santa Tecla catacombs are part of a system of of burial grounds which the early Christians used. They were unable to bury their dead within the city walls so they dug the catacombs outside the city walls. The catacombs still have much to tell us about the early history of Christianity.

Celebrate Bloomsday!

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June 16 is the day in the life of protagonist Leopold Bloom chronicled in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses — now celebrated the world over by Joyce fans as Bloomsday. Festivities this year– Bloomsday on Broadway include enactments of excerpts from Ulysses by a cast including Stephen Colbert and Malachy McCourt. You can listen to this on WNYC radio, wnyc.org and symphonyspace.org starting at 7:00 p.m. on June 16. Also, Radio Bloomsday continues a tradition of broadcasting from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. offering music and readings with Alec Baldwin, Jerry Stiller and many others.
Those of you who haven’t tackled Ulysses might want to take a look at Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce’s Masterpiece. While the academic world seems to have taken possession of Ulysses –the author points out that Joyce wrote Ulysses for the masses.

Merle Miller

Merle Miller was a long-time Brewster resident who had a successful career as a journalist, editor, novelist, screenwriter but above all as a presidential biographer. He was born May 17, 1919 in Montour, Iowa. He studied at the University of Iowa and the London School of Economics. He was an editor at Time and Harper’s magazines. But he achieved his most spectacular success as a presidential biographer. He had interviewed former President Harry S. Truman during 1961-62 for a television documentary. He crafted a biography from these conversations which was titled Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman. He followed this book with biographies of Lyndon Johnson and Dwight Eisenhower but they did not approach the success of the Truman book. He was a lover of books and reading from the age of seven when a Carnegie librarian introduced him to the library. In his obituary in the News-Times it was noted that he had spent a great deal of time in presidential libraries but he also said he spent the most time in his “favorite library-the one in Danbury.”