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Sunday
Oct262008

Greece to NY and The Last Day of Paradise..

With all the "reality" shows that run the networks these days, it is so refreshing to discover a novel that you can dive into as a distraction to all the noise around us.
The Last Day of Paradise is one of those books you pick up because of the interesting cover art and unusual title. It doesn't take long to discover the double entendre of the title and realize the book is not at all what you thought. That is how the best works of fiction usually hook you. What you think is coming doesn't - and what you find you weren't looking for!
The book is the coming of age story of a young girl named Sunday living in Greece. Her and her friends reject their parents repressive ideas of family and culture that shackle them to the past. The kids speak English to each other as a code of cool talk and to liberate themselves from the world of the past that lingers on.
The author, Kiki Denis was herself born and raised in Greece and is a longtime New Yorker. She is able to make us feel that sense of longing that is universal for any young person growing up in a small town. It is that universal ambition for more that we can all remember- the desire to expand your horizons and get out and see the world.
A first time author Ms. Denis uses a wonderful technique of switching into a unique dialect of broken English mixed with contemporary slang - so much fun to read and process!
Denis herself is a graduate of
Mount Holyoke College which is one of the most prestigious Universities in America. Actually, it is the founding University of the Seven Sisters - a network of Universities exclusively for Women to be the female alternative to the Ivy League schools for men. For Kiki to write in this broken English style must have been a challenge. In her own way, it is a poignant commentary of the culture that raised her and to remind us just how much things have changed.
The story has twists and turns and takes you on a wonderful journey that is at times hysterical and at times very emotional - never an easy task. There is also a great fashion tie-in woven through the story.

The novel has gotten attention from some major competitions and important book reviews. Denis received an honorable mention in the
2007 Hollywood Book Festival (category: wild card) for her work.

Published by Gival Press, the easiest way to find it is to click on the title link above. The book is a perfect read to take on a weekend trip or better yet to give as a gift this holiday season.
If anyone has already read the story, please let us know your thoughts!

Kiki Denis lives in NYC and is currently working on her second novel.

Tuesday
Oct142008

Everybody Was So Young....

 

It was a different time, but so many points in this fascinating read are relevant today.   This biography of Sara and Gerald Murphy is so entertaining that it reads more like a fictional novel than a very true to form life story.  The Murphy's were both children of Privileged upbringings.   Both came from industrious families - hers from the oil industry - his from commerce.   The magical thing about the Murphy's was the passion they had for life.    Time after time they put the happiness of their family before the constrains of society or the moralistic codes of the times.   The story is set in NYC and the expatriate rich France - from Paris to Antibes during the 1920's. 

The details of their lives don't seem possible!  There is too much for one life!   The Murphy's were benefactors to just about every artist of the era.   They were supporters of F.Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda who were as notorious as they were talented.   The murphys often bailed out this financially strapped writer.   Fitzgerald would base Dick Diver from Tender is the Night on Gerald Murphy!   Hemingway was also a big part of their life.   In fact Ernest was so entranced by Sara - it is said that most of the female love interests in Hemingway's stories were based on the married Mrs. Murphy.

 Pablo Picasso painted Ms. Murphy on the beach in Antibes, France - as she was known to wear pearls to the beach strung down her back.   Oh, I forgot to mention - they invented sunbathing on the riviera.   Yes, you read that right.   The Murphy's actually convinced the Hotel du 'Cap in Antibes to stay open during the summer so they could be at the beach.   At the time no one spent time in the sun during the summer because it was too hot.   The Murphy's actually raked the beach and invited their friends- Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter and screen legend Rudolph Valentino.

 As I said, it is page after page of detail rich story.   It is also a must read for any fan of fashion due to the descriptions of shopping trips to London and Paris.  Karl Lagerfeld used the Murphy's as his inspiration for the Chanel Spring 08 runway collection.   Coco Chanel herself makes a brief cameo as well.   What more can you ask for??!!   The book cover is the actual picture that ran as the COVER of Harpers Bazaar magazine as an announcement for Sara's wedding.  Can you stand it!!

First time novelist Amanda Vaill  (published by Broadway Books) really produced a fine piece of work here - it was a New York Times Bestseller when released.   If you are heading on a trip anytime soon - this is a wonderful read to take away as it takes you away to another time.

 

Friday
Oct102008

David Sedaris strikes again

 

The latest offering from the master of sarcasm and wise-assed social commentary is smoldering on the shelves of your local bookstore. David Sedaris needs no introduction to anyone who has been paying attention to the media and book reviews of the last 10 years. His essays read on

NPR broadcast have a cult following. The quirky and awkward portrayals that David dreams up (we hope they are fictional!!) are laugh out loud funny. Its the stories about family and social encounters that will have you in stitches. I'm about as jaded a NY'er as you will find - and I have found myself actually laughing out loud while reading on a plane. If you know his work - it is a must read and you probably already tore through it. If you don't know his work, pick it up. Sedaris is one of those authors whose stories you don't want to end, so normally I read a chapter every few nights to make it last lounger. Let the laughing begin!

Available at Barnes & Noble

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