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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Writer's Life 5/30 - Alice & Company

Born in Brooklyn in 1952, author Alice Hoffman grew up on Long Island. Her first novel was published at 21. She has since written 34 others, including those for children and young adults, as well as a work of non-fiction and a screenplay. Three of her books have been adapted to the big screen, two to TV. Her most popular is Practical Magic. I just finished Seventh Heaven, her eighth novel. It is the story of the inhabitants of a street in a new Long Island development. It takes place during the school year of 1959-'60. The main character is a harbinger of what would become more common in the decade to come - a single, hard-working mom of two. Divorce was rare at that time. The woman is treated coldly, the eight year old son ostracized and bullied. Hoffman focuses on the inner lives of the all the characters, who are trying to navigate the mystery of life, the social changes afoot. The lack of communication between family members is sad and unsettling, but not false. My only quibble is that it is complete. No one is happy. Fortunately, good things begin to occur in the final quarter of the narrative, although it doesn't conclude with a happy ending but rather an open-ended one - just like life. There are hints of the supernatural along the way. Although I've never experienced any personally, I don't discount or object to them. The prose and dialog are solid, a bit informal. An easy read, the 256 pages of the hardcover edition flew by. This is the work of an astute observer of the human condition. 187 users at Amazon have rated Seventh Heaven, forging to a consensus of 4.1 of five, maybe a tad too high. I'm embarrassed to admit I have no idea what the title refers to. I know only that it is a fine novel, often touching.

Trivia: Patrick McGoohan played the murderer in four episodes of Columbo. Although Robert Culp also appeared in four episodes, he was merely the father of the killer in one.

In 1794 William Blake famously asked: "Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?" Tiger Woods?

On Sean Hannity's radio show, Newt Gingrich just described the current political climate as "America's second civil war." Sadly, I don't believe it's an exaggeration.

It was another dreary day in terms of weather. I was actually cold at the end of the three hour session of the floating book shop. My thanks to Ira, who purchased a book on Hollywood musicals, and to Crazy Joe, the scourge of local radio talk show hosts, who showed late and overpaid for four works of non-fiction. He recently completed a 30-day suspension at Facebook for comments deemed inappropriate by management. He pulls no punches and has been accused of racism and xenophobia. He has always been generous to me, and good-humored despite my refusal to believe anyone other than Oswald murdered JFK. I don't say there definitely was no conspiracy. I just haven't seen any evidence, despite the myriad oddities, to convince me there was. Prior to Joe's appearance, I had a half-hour visit from Steve, aka Mountain Man, whose cynicism about politics goes way beyond mine. It would have been so interesting to hear those two converse, although I suspect it would have generated rancor, even though they share a lot of common ground. Both are argumentative.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

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