Commentary

Good news for Mr. Monk fans: Mr. Monk is Miserable by Lee Goldberg, the 7th title in the mystery series, will hit bookstores this month, with Mr. Monk traveling to Paris. Goldberg has done a superb job in depicting this endearing TV sleuth who is portrayed by Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub in the comedy drama Monk.

***

Top Ten Funniest TV Shows Ever (in this nonscientific poll I Love Lucy receiving the most votes):

1. I Love Lucy (original series, 1951-1957)  .  .  .  .    6. Saturday Night Live (notably the John Belushi years, 1975-1979)

2. The Honeymooners (1952-1961)    .  .  .  .  .  .  .   7. Seinfeld (1989-1998)

3. The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978)   .  .  .  .  .   8. Hee Haw (1969-1991)

4. M*A*S*H (1972-1983)   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .    9. Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? (2007- )

5. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966)    .  .  .  . 10. (tie) The Flip Wilson Show (1970-1974) and Green Acres (1965-1971)                               

Heinrich Maksim, Shurik’s maternal uncle

Emilie (Aunt Miili) Maksim, Heinrich’s wife, with their daughter Hildegard

Pick of the Month, June 2009


Fiction

Our Lady of Pain by Elena Forbes, MacAdam/Cage, $24.00


In this police procedural, a beautiful woman is brutally murdered and her body ritualistically posed in London’s Holland Park. The similarities to a previously unsolved murder initially suggests the work of a serial killer. As protagonists Mark Tartaglia & Sam Donovan investigate, they encounter numerous obstacles with Sam eventually landing in the killer’s trap. An engrossing page-turner. This reviewer hopes Forbes will write many more Tartaglia/Donovan mysteries.


Nonfiction

The Lives of Dwarfs: Their Journey from Public Curiosity toward Social Liberation by Betty M. Adelson, Rutgers University Press, $34,95


Adelson presents a cross-cultural analysis of the portrayal of dwarfs in the arts and literature and by the entertainment industry. The wide range of topics includes Dr. Josef Mengele’s research on dwarfs, dwarf-tossing, and dwarfs as sideshow performers (Dick Zigun, for example, classifies the sideshow as an authentic American art form, not a degrading exploitation). She records their accomplishments and social lives, discussing a number of dwarfs who have made a name for themselves, such as Dr. Ruth Westheimer, twins John and Greg Rice, and Herve Villechaize.


Significant improvements have occurred regarding job opportunities and social acceptance, the Little People of America (LPA) having played an important role in this trend. Adelson notes that increased public exposure will promote overall understanding. Still, problems with health issues and discrimination remain. She concludes that a dwarf president would “represent a much higher Everest than selecting . . . the first African American or even the first woman.”


This scholarly book was one of my impulse buys, influenced in part by its beautiful illustrations. It is well researched and effectively promotes sensitivity for and understanding of a group too often unfairly treated.


Children’s/YA

Hello Kitty What Will I Be A to Z by Higashi/Glaser Design Inc., Harry N. Abrams, $6.95, ages 3-8


This delightful book combines learning the alphabet with an introduction to interesting careers. Highly recommended.


Specialty/Small Press

Eno Publishers, incorporated in 2008, is a nonprofit company specializing in books with links to the Carolinas. Their first title, a how-to guide, Rain Gardening in the South: Ecologically Designed Gardens for Drought, Deluge and Everything in Between by Helen Kraus and Anne Spafford, deals with a timely topic and has earned outstanding reviews.


Their second title (to be released this summer), Undaunted Heart: The True Story of a Southern Belle and a Yankee General by Suzy Barile, tells of Ella Swain falling in love and marrying General Smith Atkins which created quite a scandal in its day.  A fascinating tale well suited for a movie. This book is bound to receive special notice during the forthcoming sesquicentennial of the Civil War, with scores of events planned from 2011 through 2015.

Scene near Shurik’s new school.

Palmse manor house, Kadrina Parish, Lääne-Viru County, one of numerous manors in Estonia.

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Ida Magdalena, mother of Aleksander (aka Shurik), Johanna, Oskar, and Linda (who died as an infant)