by Sue Wurster

It’s that time of year again–when many of us retreat into our cocoons and pull out the remote.  And for me, when that time comes round, there is nothing more satisfying than a good, solid dose of Masterpiece Theatre style soap.   Ever since the debut of Upstairs, Downstairs  in this country,  I’ve been hooked on British television.

Last year, my binge of choice was Doc Martin followed by Call the Midwife.   I recently discovered Land Girls, which helped to ease my pain over the cancellation of Home Fires after only two seasons that ended on quite the cliffhanger…I guess we’ll never know why the show was cancelled or who ended up falling over the cliff’s edge…

Land Girls was commissioned by the BBC to commemorate the 70th year since the outbreak of World War II.  The three-season series  (15 episodes in all) follows four volunteer members of the Women’s Land Army who are working in the fields at the Hoxley family estate during the war.

Another gem set in a small rural community in England during the war is Home Fires.  The focus, in this case, is on the women who comprise the local Women’s Institute who devote their energies to various and sundry home front causes during the war.   The cast is led by the marvelous Francesca Annis and Samantha Bond, and the only disappointment in the two series is that there has not been a third…


At the moment, I am completely addicted to the acclaimed Australian series,  A Place to Call Home.   Often referred to as “Downton Down Under,” the series is set in post WWII Australia and focuses on the central character of Sarah Adams who, after twenty years absence, has recently returned to the country to start a new life.  The wonderfully enigmatic Marta Dusseldorp fully embodies the role of the mysterious Sarah in this highly satisfying soap.

Interestingly, A Place to Call Home was originally slated to run for two seasons, and the last episode of the second wraps up the various plot lines quite nicely.  But when given the unexpected go-ahead for an additional season, that ending was revamped.  There’s something quite engaging about being able to see both.  Luckily, it went on to enjoy not only a third but fourth and fifth seasons as well (and they all consist of 10 or more episodes), so, as I’m currently in the middle of season three,  I’m in good shape for a while.


Of course, I’ve often wondered just why it is that I so prefer British television to American, and I’ve decided that it has to do with focus.  To me, BBC storytelling seems to be driven by character rather than by situation–and for me, that seems to provide more “heart” to the mix.

These items are available on DVD.  Land Girls is available on Netflix, and Home Fires is on Amazon Prime Video.   A Place to Call Home is streaming on Acorn TV and Britbox.  (If you’re a BBC junkie like me, the latter two are well worth the price.)

BOLL Matters co-editor Sue Wurster

So, if you’ve got suggestions for me and my fellow BBC addicts, please share in the box below!

WHAT’S ON MY MIND? Ursula K. Le Guin…

                                    URSULA K. LE GUIN:                                         WHO PROVIDED DIRECTION…

Science Fiction Writer Ursula K. Le Guin

from Sue Wurster

This week, we lost one of the brightest lights in our science fiction cosmos:  Ursula K. Le Guin.  Over the course of her 90 years, this prolific writer added more than 100 short stories, 4 collections of essays, 7 volumes of poetry, and 19 novels to our collective shelves.

While I devoured much of all that she provided us, it was two of those short stories and one speech that taught me how to see…and, thus, think.  The two stories are Direction of the Road and The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.  Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons? she asks in a speech delivered in Clarion, Pennsylvania in 1974.

Direction of the Road  is a short, dramatic monologue about Progress beginning  with the line, “They didn’t used to be so demanding.”  The speaker is an oak tree who talks, essentially, about the relativity of motion–growing and diminishing for the drivers/passengers who travel her road.  As humans begin to travel that road at higher and higher speeds, her abilities are severely tested until, at one point, a driver “completely violates the direction of the road” and hits her.  It is in hat moment that the tree loses her immortality–the driver saw her in her fullest being and saw nothing else ever again.    It is this loss that the tree protests.  (to read the full story, click here:  Direction of the Road)

The story was apparently inspired by one particular tree that was situated along the side of a country road Le Guin often traveled in the Portland, Oregon area where she lived.  The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas was also inspired by her Oregon drives–specifically, the sign she saw, backward, in her rearview mirror:  “You are now leaving Salem, O.”  In this compelling short story/utilitarian philosophic exploration, Omelas and its inhabitants live serenely, happily, and without guilt…on a foundation constructed of cruelty.  (to read the full story, click here:  The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas).

Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons? was delivered at 1974’s Clarion writers’ workshop at Clarion State College.  In that address, Le Guin talked about the place (or non-place) of fantasy in our society.   I was totally able to relate to her opening story about going to the children’s room of her local library to find a copy of The Hobbit only to be told that “Oh, we don’t keep that in the children’s room.  We don’t believe that kind of fantasy is good for children.”  So, she went to the adult room only to be told that “Oh, we don’t keep children’s books here.”   For quite a long time in this country, we had this sort of “logjam mindset” when it came to fantasy.   (to read the full speech, click here:  Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?)

Le Guin, born Ursula Kroeber, was raised in Berkeley, California.  Her father was the noted anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber, and her mother was the writer Theodora Kroeber.  Clearly, intellectualism and scholarship were valued when it came to her upbringing.  And she reveled in it.  She graduated from Radcliffe and studied at Columbia University before settling in Portland, Oregon to write.

Several of her novels–including The Left Hand of Darkness, her first major work of science fiction–have been heralded for her ground-breaking and radical utilitarianism.  Other strikingly effective pieces include the powerful novella, The Word for the World is Forest as well as The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, and the children’s fantasy series, The Wizard of Earthsea.

Le Guin  received the National Book Award, five Hugo Awards, five Nebula Awards, SFWA’s Grand Master, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Howard Vursell Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the L.A. Times Robert Kirsch Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, and the Margaret A. Edwards Award.  She was a  finalist for the American Book Award (three times) as well as the Pulitzer Prize.

What did I learn from Ursula Le Guin that has stuck with me all these years?  To paraphrase a line from Direction of the Road, “if human beings will not understand Relativity, they must come to understand Relatedness.”

Thank you, Ms. Le Guin, for providing so many truly unique standpoints from which to view our world!

BOLLI Matters Co-Editor Sue Wurster

Speculative and science fiction give  me a chance to stand on my head in a way I was never able to do in P.E.  Other favorite writers include Harlan Ellison, Kurt Vonnegut, and, of course, that wonderful word man Ray Bradbury.




from John Rudy

In Greek, it’s: αρνί με αγκινάρες, pronounced ar-NEE meh ahg-kee-NAH-res

A Greek classic but made differently by every family.  Be sure to include bones since they are a traditional part of this dish. The tangy egg-lemon sauce (AVGOLEMONO) is the crowning touch,  added just before serving.

Many years ago, we went to a restaurant in Cambridge called The Acropolis and had this dish, or something like it, maybe 3-4 times a year for 25 years.  Then they went out of business.  Years later, the chef resurfaced in a restaurant in Arlington, and I tried to get the recipe from him.  He kept putting me off, and then, that restaurant went out of business too.  I scoured the cookbooks, and then we went to Greece.  We ordered this dish a few times but it wasn’t right, but eventually, we found it, and the chef gave me a “sketch” of the recipe.  After a lot of tuning,  this is the result.

It is hard to find decent artichoke hearts.  I get them from the salad bar at Whole Foods.  Lamb shanks are really best but not easy to find.

Yield: serves 6


2¼  lbs      artichoke hearts

4 Tbs         lemon juice (2 lemons)

2 tsp          salt

⅔ cup        olive oil

2 small       spring onions, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

4½  lbs      leg and shank of lamb, bone in, chopped into large chunks OR 3 pounds of lamb, cut into large chunks and 1 pound of lamb bones

3½ cups     water


Egg-lemon sauce

2                eggs, separated

6 tbs       lemon juice (about 3 lemons)


  1. Rinse artichoke hearts with cold water, put in a bowl, and cover with juice of 2 lemons.  Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  2. Put the oil, chopped onion, and meat (and bones, if separate) in a pressure cooker over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover (don’t seal) and brown for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil.  Seal, bring to full pressure, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Use fast-release of pressure and open the pressure cooker. Drain the artichokes and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, seal, and bring back to full pressure. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, use fast-release of pressure, and unseal the cover, leaving it on top of the pot.

  1. Make avgolemono sauce:In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites to the soft peak stage. Still using the high setting, beat in the egg yolks until frothy, then beat in the juice of 3 lemons, 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure it’s well melded after each addition.  The mixture will be rich and foamy.  Reduce mixer speed to medium and add 5 soup ladles of the meat broth, one at a time, making sure each mixes in well before adding the next.  Slowly pour the egg-lemon mixture into the pot, and shake to distribute evenly (do not stir).
“Chef’s Corner” writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)


The Writers Guild prompt was “Show us your fancy footwork!”  which took Steve back in time.

Memoir Writer Steve Goldfinger


by Steve Goldfinger

They don’t call me “Twinkle Toes” without reason.  No, they do it for laughs.  In fact, they call it”Danse Macabre” when I get on the floor.

It all began–or, in truth–didn’t begin when my mother insisted that I take dance lessons from an adolescent neighbor.  The girl was 2 years older and  7 inches taller than me as we partnered in her parents’ living room.  As her Victrola played out scratchy tunes, I looked up at her slightly sweaty, acne-laden face.  I watched her nod as she counted out the rhythm.  My feet would plunk down on the spots on the floor that she pointed to with her eyes.

I told my mother not to worry because I would never fall for a girl who liked to dance, so there was no need for me to acquire that particular skill.

And please, Mom, I do not want to take elocution lessons.


When I married Barbara, she had just graduated from Brooklyn College where she had been president of the modern dance company.  It was a culmination of years of classes, practice, and performances.  I loved watching her dance.  I loved everything about her.  I foresaw a marriage challenged only at bar mitzvah and marriage celebrations when hired bands would blast out their dance invitations.  She was really pretty good at leading me around the floor, smiling as though enjoying herself and not wincing when one of my feet would squash one of hers.  Thanks to a lot of at-home practice, the one dance we could do passably well was the cha-cha.  I somehow thought of it as a Jewish dance, probably because it was so popular at all those celebrations.

My friend Sam knew only one dance step, which I saw him perform in ludicrous manner many years ago.  It was at El Bodegon, a very good Spanish restaurant in Washington that had a small stage facing the tables.  Once each evening, the music would boom out from speakers, and two beautiful girls in frilly costumes would come out and perform wild flamenco dances.  Then, invariably, they would try to get one of the diners to get up on the stage with them.  The Latin music blared when Sam was cajoled into joining them.  Then, he launched into the one step he knew…the Charleston.  It almost worked if you had drunk enough Valencia.

My most ridiculous dance experience occurred during my internship year at the Massachusetts General Hospital.  On a weekend when Barbara was visiting her folks in Brooklyn, my resident–a charming and very persuasive guy–asked…no, virtually commanded…that I “double date” with him.  He was going to a square dance with his girlfriend, and her housemate was to be my partner.

And so, she was.  Guilt shrouded every second of my time with her.  Betrayal, thy name is Stephen!  Abandon, ye, all hope of reparation!

I wonder if Myrna is still telling the story about the deaf mute who once took her to a square dance.


Share your memories with the BOLLI community by submitting memoir writing (of approximately 500 words) to BOLLI Matters co-editor Sue Wurster at




by Dennis Greene

In 1952, when I was an undersized, under-aged, socially inept eight -year–old, my family relocated from a working class neighborhood in Queens, New York, to one of the most disadvantaged school districts in New Bedford, Massachusetts. For the next seven years I tried to find my place in this unwelcoming new world, and when the struggle got me down, I escaped to the amazing worlds created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne,  H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, E.E.”Doc” Smith and all the other extraordinary science fiction and fantasy writers of the early and mid-twentieth century. Many of these books were out of print in the 1950s, but I searched the glass-floored stacks of the New Bedford Free Public Library to obtain transport to these imaginary worlds. These flights of fantasy turned a potentially lonely and unhappy period of my childhood into a time I look back on with fond nostalgia.

I recall a time in tenth grade when it seemed the arc of my adolescence was finally on the upswing. I had a bunch of new basketball playing friends, and I was one of the better players. We played every afternoon in Buttonwood Park or in the Dartmouth High gym. I had finally experienced a growth spurt, and my jump shot had improved to the point where I was confident I would be selected to play on the JV team. All the other guys striving for places told me I was a sure bet to make it. On the Friday when the team roster was posted, the whole bunch of us crowded in front of the bulletin board to see the list. I ran my eyes over the list several times quickly, then a few more times very slowly; then I just stared at it with a sick, empty feeling in my gut. I didn’t make the team. The names of several much weaker players were on the list, but no matter how long I stared, mine was not.

I was devastated. After staring at the list for an eternity, I fled for home without saying a word to anyone. I made myself a ham, Swiss cheese and tomato sandwich on seeded light rye with mayo and retreated to my room. There, I spent the weekend re-reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Princess of Mars and doing lots of sleeping. I emerged on Sunday evening, still pissed off and disappointed but ready to again face the world. That quick trip to Barsoom to be with John Carter, Tars Tarkas and the incomparable Deija Thoris helped me get through a tough few days.

Like many disappointments, failing to make the team turned out to be a good thing. After moping around the house for a week or two, my mom and dad had had enough. One way or another, they convinced me to fill my time doing other stuff while all my Dartmouth friends practiced basketball. I grudgingly took their advice, and during that tenth-grade basketball season, I tried out and got a role in a high school play, joined a co-ed bowling team at the Jewish Community Center, and there met a group of guys who invited me to play on their church league basketball team. We won the New England Championship, and I acquired a new group of wonderful friends, including several girls. If I had made the JV team, I would have missed all that.

The following year, I did make the JV team, and my senior year I was a starter on the worst varsity basketball team in Dartmouth High’s history. The coach was not impressed with the basketball ability of our collection of short, slow, honor society members, as we compiled a losing 6 and 9 record, but in later years, he referred to us as the “smartest” group he ever coached. So everything did turn out fine.

Fifty-seven years later, on Nov. 9, 2016, I woke up and tuned in to the election results to learn that Donald Trump was our President-elect. I stared at the television with the same blank stare I had used in 1959 to peruse that JV basketball roster, but again, the result did not change. Again, I made myself a ham, Swiss cheese and tomato sandwich on light rye with mayo and retreated to my bedroom.  This time I re-read a collection of  Poul Anderson’s Polytechnic League stories about the heroic intergalactic traders Nicholas van Rijn and David Fayaden. I emerged a few days later, ready to face the world we live in.  I still believe that speculative literature can be a remedy for depression and despair if the right works are selected and the reader is able to escape to that other world and let his or her imagination embrace the epic scope and optimistic outlook of these heroic adventures. So if you are ever feeling down, just pick up a copy of Dune or Game of Thrones and go on an adventure.

Dennis Greene joined BOLLI a year ago and for the past two semesters has begun to acquire a liberal education. He spent his early years in and around New Bedford, Massachusetts as a reclusive bookworm, avid Boy Scout, high school basketball player and thespian. After graduating Dartmouth High School, Dennis obtained a vocational education studying engineering, business administration and law. He then spent over four decades as an engineer, lawyer, husband, father of two daughters, and pop culture devotee. He now lives in Wellesley where he is writing a coming of age memoir, trying to improve his golf game, attending courses at BOLLI and taking frequent naps.


Share your memories with the BOLLI community by submitting memoir writing (of approximately 500 words) to BOLLI Matters co-editor Sue Wurster at



There is only so much technical advice that I can give and that you will accept.  So, for a change of pace, I’m providing material in part provided by Ron Levy and Mike Segal.  But who knows where jokes come from?  Even those which show attribution might well be taken from elsewhere.  So my apologies in advance.  And if anyone is easily insulted, this is a good place to stop.


We had a power cut at our house this morning, and my PC, laptop, TV, DVD, iPad & my new-surround sound music system were all shut down.

Then I discovered that my mobile phone battery was dead, and to top it off, it was raining outside, so I couldn’t play golf.

I went into the kitchen to make coffee, and then I remembered that this also needs power, so I sat and talked with my wife for a couple of hours.

She seems like a nice person.


Many computer problems are rather easily resolved.  Have you ever done something and got a Microsoft error message like this?


An email arrives one morning:

Hi, Chris, this is Alan from next door.  I have a confession to make.I’ve been riddled with guilt these past few months and have been trying to pluck up the courage to tell you to your face, but I am at least now telling you in text as I can’t live with myself a moment longer without you knowing.

The truth is – I’ve been sharing your wife, day and night, a lot lately. In fact, probably more than you. I haven’t been getting it at home recently, but that’s no excuse, I know. The temptation was just too much. I can no longer live with the guilt, and I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies and forgive me. It won’t happen again.
Please suggest a fee for usage and I’ll pay you.

Regards, Alan

Chris, feeling insulted and betrayed, grabs his gun and shoots his neighbor dead.  He returns home, pours himself a stiff drink, and sits down on the sofa.  Taking out his phone, he sees a subsequent message from his neighbor:

Hi, Chris, this is Alan again from next door.  Sorry about that typo on my last text. But I expect you figured it out anyway and that you noticed that the darned Auto Correct changed “WiFi” to “Wife.”

Regards, Alan


And then, there’s the doctor…

A man walks into an optician’s office.

“Doctor,” he says, “I’m having real trouble using my computer.  Unless I’m looking right at my keyboard, mouse, or printer, I just can’t see any of them.”

“Ah”, said the optician, “I know what’s wrong. You’ve got a problem with your peripheral vision.”


Need a password?

I needed a password eight characters long so I picked “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”


And now for the final one…

Three engineers were riding in a car: a mechanical engineer, a chemical engineer, and a Microsoft software engineer. The car stalled, and they rolled it to the side of the road.

The mechanical engineer popped the hood, looked in, and said, “Look. The drive belt is loose. All we have to do is tighten it up, and the car will work just fine.”

The chemical engineer replied, “No, that’s all wrong. The problem is fuel contamination. We have to drain the fuel, filter it, and then everything will be A-OK.”

The Microsoft software engineer told the other two, “No, I’ve seen this problem before. We have to get back in the car, close all the windows, shut down the car, get out, get back in, start up the car, open all the windows, and then it will run.”

Back to important stuff next month.

BOLLI Matters “Tech Talk” writer John Rudy

A long-time computer expert and guide,  John provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide questions or comments for John on any computer/tech topic . (781-861-0402)



The Memoir Writing Course prompt was “The biggest risk you ever took.”  Sam was inspired to share a very special memory.

Memoir Writer Sam Ansell


by Sam Ansell

At the time, I was living in a third-floor walk-up in Manhattan and earning a precarious living writing promotional material for a company that made tollbooths–no, not “Phantom Tollbooths.”  Real ones.  Hardly a chance to be creative.  I had no relationship whatsoever with with my fellow employees, nor, for that matter, with anyone else in New York.  So, every evening, I remained in my cramped little flat, either reading or listening to the radio, this being the pre-TV era.  Yes, I was very lonely, and my awful cooking only made things worse.

Then, early one evening, the phone rang.  An unknown young woman said, “Hi!  It’s me!  I’m visiting relatives in New York, so how about taking me out for dinner and a show?”

I was about to tell her that she had called the wrong number but thought better of it.  Why not take her out?  She might even be pretty–with any luck, a real cute number.  So, an hour later, I was pushing the doorbell of a Manhattan apartment.

The door opened, and there was one of the loveliest numbers I had ever encountered.  And one of the most indignant as well.

“Who are YOU?” she demanded.

“You called ME up,” I said.

Well, after about twenty minutes, we got it all straightened out.  And we did go out that evening.  And the next.  And the one after that.  And we’ve been inseparable ever since.

So, I’ve never been lonely again.  Or had to eat my own–ugh–cooking.  And she’s still a lovely number.

All of which goes to show you that, if you’re very lucky, a wrong number can get you the right number.


Share your memoirs with the BOLLI community–just send pieces (of approximately 500 words in length) to BOLLI Matters co-editor Sue Wurster at




WANTED: Teacher with a Funny Bone

Cartoonist Roz Chast


  • A deep personal commitment to the nexus of knowledge and laughter.
  • Experience reading and accepting the wit and wisdom of Roz Chast, born and raised in Brooklyn, who has been drawing since childhood.
  • Understanding and appreciation of the value of chintz covered chairs and Baroque picture frames, and, generally speaking, everything related to middle class America in the 1950’s.
  • Finely tuned communication skills, including but not limited to Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons of Roz Chast 1978-2006, and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
  • Advance a curriculum that would include discussions such as:

The artist’s reflections of everyday life and the power of black and white (she started with single panel black and white drawings) graphics.

Why Roz hand-lettered the title pages of her books, why her books feature a cartoon of herself rather than the typical author photograph, and other mysteries.

How the artist’s perspective on a family translates for you.  

During the summer, I started to assemble ideas and research for a five-week BOLLI course under the working title “Everything I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned from Roz Chast.”

During the past few months as I immersed myself in four new BOLLI courses, I realized that I just don’t have the skills necessary to deliver this course myself.   Is there anybody out there who might like to do so?  If you’d be interested and  would like to see a potential bibliography for such a course before you decide, please let me know. Thanks for your time and interest!

Lydia Bogar (

Frequent BOLLI blogger, Lydia Bogar


Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to doing volunteer emergency service.  We’re lucky to have her volunteering, these days, to help with BOLLI Matters!







By Eleanor Jaffee

How do you know when to throw in the towel?  When is “enough” really “enough”?  What are the signs that tell you, “You know, honey/mister, this job/project/course is taking too much out of you”?

On the other hand…a good challenge is hard to discard.  A well-honed skill or series of skills may be a treasured part of your repertoire, and if you give that up, then what?

Most of us experienced this internal dialogue when we retired from our paying careers: teacher, engineer, physician, or business person.  These occupations were relentlessly full-time—week, month, and year in and out.  As a bridging activity after retirement, and perhaps forever after, until the inevitable end of the road, some of us become SGLs who create, plan, revise, and then lead courses for our fellow BOLLI members.  I recommend this undertaking, but it can be a real challenge!

I have created and led about ten courses, always building on old knowledge and experience but adding new challenges and new learning along the way.  It’s much like adding new wings or extensions to an existing building.  In this way, I have taught four different courses about immigration to the U.S., three different courses about aspects of aging, and one course on the history of marriage (co-led) through fiction.  And most recently, this one just past:  “Resistance and Resilience in Politics and In Life.”

This year, I literally outdid myself.  So riled up was I, so upset about our current political morass and its potential for real harm to our country and beyond, that I created a course about politics and the necessity for resilience and resistance in these perilous times.  I was satisfied with my goals (although they were perhaps too far-reaching), but keeping up with the daily political changes, mis-steps, crises, and mind-blowing emergencies in daily news coverage was a huge challenge.  Between scandalous, heartbreaking and frightening “breaking news,” “fake news,” and tweets, I was constantly updating and revising plans for each class.  How much could I include and still make sense of it all?  How much of what was going on in Washington and around our country (and the world) could we discuss in one class?  My brain was on overload as I read and clipped newspaper and magazine articles and tried to stuff new information into my brain.

If I am giving the impression that I was on overload, that is true.  I forgot some important things like hearing aid batteries one day, and on another day, I actually left all my teaching materials at home.  Two successive week called for two nervous and hurried trips home to get essential materials that had been forgotten.  And then, I rose to the occasion, and the class went well.

The class and I concluded our studies, mutually pleased with our learning and camaraderie.  I hope I met my goal of encouraging more informed political activism whether in the form of marches, contacting elected officials, making crucial phone calls, writing letters to the editor, or supporting worthwhile organizations.  Our participation is crucial if we are to turn this mess around!

I look forward to a good rest.   But during a much needed swim this morning (where I do some of my best and most creative thinking),  I swam into a new possibility for a course, one I know something about.  “Swan Songs” — Creativity and Resourcefulness in Seniors!  Now, let’s see.  Where did I leave my towel?

“Senior Moments” writers Eleanor Jaffe and Liz David

As I grow older, I am more interested in the conditions, changes, services, culture, and even politics affecting me, my husband of 53 years, my friends — and my 104 year old mother.  What does it mean to be growing older in today’s society?  




By Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan’s previous novel, the Pulitzer-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad, was a dazzling, post-modern high-wire act. What would she do next? Too smart to try to outdo herself, she did research — lots and lots of research — mostly revolving around the mysteries of the deep. At every turn, there is water and the people who make their living and support a war on and in it: longshoremen, divers, merchant marine, sailors, the women who do the jobs left by the men who’ve gone to war, the men who stoke the boiler, and the men who know where the bodies are buried.

At heart, Manhattan Beach is a book about a girl and her father, 11-year-old Anna and Eddie Kerrigan, trying to keep his head above water and his family afloat on the fringes of the New York underworld in the 1930s. Ten years later, the country is at war, Eddie has disappeared, and Anna works in the Brooklyn Naval Yard and yearns to be the first woman to be a diver, doing underwater repairs to the great ships that she sees in the newsreels.

This is a coming-of-age novel, a crime novel, a war novel, a New York novel, and that all-too-rare phenomenon, a literary page-turner. Jennifer Egan doesn’t let her research overwhelm her literary skills and doesn’t let her story overwhelm her characters. Highly recommended.

“Book Nook” writer Abby Pinard

A lifelong book nut, Abby retired from a forty-year computer software career and ticked an item off her bucket list by going to work in a bookstore.  A native New Yorker, she moved to Boston to be among her people:  family and Red Sox fans.  She is a music lover, crossword puzzler, baseball fan, and political junkie who flunked Halloween costumes but can debug her daughter’s wifi.

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