Neshama’s Choices for May 10th

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Anatomy of A Scandal

James is high up in British government; the Prime Minister is an old school chum. He’s handsome, charming, and appears to have a perfect family. When an accusation of rape comes from a personal assistant, a very tense trial results. The prosecutor is a woman who encountered James at college with traumatic results. She’s remade and renamed herself and he doesn’t recognize her. Fascinating moral tangles. Justice is served, though not through the traditional channels.

Dusk Night Dawn

Subtitled On Revival and Courage— extremely timely. Fans have probably already placed their holds, so this is for those of you who don’t know what she does, which is to address our fears and confusions by finding something worth celebrating in what I often refer to as “this vale of tears.”  Mostly personal testimony: vignettes about her recent marriage (she took the plunge in her mid-sixties!), pets, quirky people she loves and admires, and invitations to join her in embracing what works despite all evidence to the contrary.  Funny, spiritual, intimate—what else could you ask for? (Full disclosure: Annie and I have been friends for 46 years.)

If I Die Tonight

A psychological thriller that I figured out early on but it was so hypnotic that I ended up reading it in one sitting. A village in upstate New York where a hit and run takes down a young man who becomes a hero posthumously.  A washed up singer tells the tale: he was trying to rescue her when she was carjacked.  Wade, a classmate, seems like the obvious perpetrator; he’s certainly acting guilty enough.  But there are secrets everywhere and attempt to cover them up—small town mindset. Riveting.

Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun

A slim book as delightful and intriguing as its title.  Morayo, in her 70s, lives alone in San Francisco. She’s elegant, with a complex past: born in Nigeria, lived the high life in Brazil, and was a professor. She makes a daily circuit through the neighborhood and we get to know more about her from the people she encounters regularly. Their voices are fresh and lively, as is Morayo's.   Dream-like qualities mix with down to earth reflections. I was glad to get to know her.

The New Farm

Subtitled Our Ten Years on the Front Lines of the Good Food Revolution.  That sounds very earnest, which might have been a turnoff for someone like me, since agriculture and food are not heavy on my scale of interests.  However, this is an absolute gem of a book and I was completely won over by the personal story and The Movement.  It starts with calamity —I love that: chicks which turn out to be mostly roosters become weasels’ delight. Goes almost to despair, then subsides into a mix of joy and frustration, develops a business model that proves wildly profitable, and finally arrives at a balance that provides nourishment on many levels. Wonderful writing, great candor.

Back next week.