Neshama’s Choices for November 15th

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Apples Never Fall

50 years is quite a record for marriage and the Delaneys seem content, retired from the very successful tennis school they’ve run for years. When Joy disappears, her husband and offspring are totally baffled. Turns out familial resentments have been simmering and reveal the toxic competition and politics that bedevil the game. Could it be foul play? I found the ending a little too neat but loved all that inside dope. 

The Disappearing Act

Mia, a successful English actress, has just been dumped by George, a fellow thespian.  What better time to flee to LA where a number of producers are eyeing her. She’s also being considered for a prestigious hush-hush role. At an audition, she offers to feed another actress’s parking meter. But when Emily doesn’t return to claim her bag and keys, Mia is launched on a very troubling series of events. She can see the iconic Hollywood sign from her window, and the tragic story that took place on that hillside long ago gets uncannily replayed.  What a mean world, beset with me-too incidents. Atmospheric. 

Dream Girl

That’s the title of Gerry’s most successful novel. He’s run through women, finally dumped his most recent inamorata, but finds himself back in Philadelphia seeing his mother though her final illness. But now he’s stuck in the surreal house he bought there, immobilized after a serious fall. A personal assistant attends him during the day and he has nurse at night. Very strange things start to happen, including mysterious phone calls from his “dream girl” who was a fictional character. (Echoes of familiar stories, worthy of Stephen King and Agatha Christie.) Gerry thinks of himself as a principled fellow but is basically dense and misogynistic. He gets his in the end and the denouement is tricksy yet satisfying. 

The Long Hello

Subtitled Memory, My Mother and Me. Borrie tended her mother for seven years as she declined into dementia. Short chapters reflect the combination of deep fondness and enormous frustration that come with the territory.  We get their loopy conversations, often poetic, plus Borrie’s backstory that includes being exiled to boarding school because her new  stepfather didn’t want her around. Bracing candor, humor, warmth—good medicine for an incurable condition. (Called life, perhaps?) 

Virtue

Luca is wet behind the ears when he arrives in NYC for a summer internship with a prestigious magazine. He’s fascinated by fellow intern Zara, who's Black and doesn’t suck up like the rest of them, but makes bold statements. A dynamic couple, Paula and Jason, invite him to summer in Maine with their blended family. He’s kind of in love with both of them and wonders why they asked him along. Meanwhile all hell is breaking loose so this idyll feels bizarrely removed from the action. A tragic event brings summer to a rapid end, along with Luca’s innocence. Fascinating reflections on privilege and art. Wicked humor too, especially around the rural village’s annual rituals.  


Back next week.

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