Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
By Alan Alda
Random House $24.95
Following life threatening surgery described in his previous book, “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed,” Alda offers serious introspection on life (peppered with humor) in what’s essentially a collection of talks he delivered at college commencements, eulogies and business meetings in which he expounds on his search for the meaning of life or lack of same.
Alda’s first, and one of his best, speeches was addressed directly to his daughter at her commencement; his last, suggested by a friend, was the commencement speech he would make on his deathbed. In it he delivered stirring words of advice to his kids and grandkids.
In between, he offered a warm and sincere eulogy for actor, Ossie Davis, words of wisdom to a group of psychiatrists and a number of other thoughtful listeners. I think you and your college-bound students will get more than just a kick out of this one.
By Phil Sandusky
Pelican Publishing $19.95
It would seem difficult, if not impossible, to find beauty in devastation such as Katrina but Sandusky does just that in this collection of 75 color reproductions of the Plein Air paintings of his beloved city.
Actually, the collection features paintings before Katrina, immediately after the disaster (during which time he delayed working on his own house) and finally, one year later, showing the emerging rebirth of the city. It’s a wonderful story told in three acts, warmer and more vibrant than photographs, filled with hope and illustrating the resolve and courage of its inhabitants, like the author himself.
Eye of the Storm
By Sally Forman
How’d you like to have been a fly on the wall of New Orleans’ Mayor Ray Nagin’s command center during Katrina? Well, you’re there with this book by the mayor’s communications director who, for 10 days, was at Nagin’s side or nearby when he met with the president, governor and members of FEMA.
Forman debunks many false news reports and gives an eye-opening assessment of just what did happen during that time. She was so busy and involved she’d forgotten that the 29th was her birthday and was only reminded when former police chief Eddie Compass remarked that it was his. This is one birthday neither will ever forget.
Forman resigned her job after her husband, Ron, decided to run against Nagin for the mayor’s office.
By Mike Dash
Random House Audio $29.95
Satan’s Circus, in what was also called the Tenderloin, was ruled by unscrupulous politicos in Tammany Hall where crime was widespread; with gambling, vice and graft unchecked. And, graft is how young Charles Becker, a farm boy, found a place on the police force and quickly moved up in rank. Becker became quite proficient in extortion and eventually murder, which sent him to the electric chair.
This is a fascinating look back at New York at the turn of the 20th century. Interestingly, when Becker arrested a woman, Ruby Young, for prostitution, a surprise witness, noted author Stephen Crane, testified in her defense but to no avail. (He later moved to Cuba and died there at age 29.)
The book is read by David Acroyd, who’s appeared on Dallas and St. Elsewhere.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Book
By Deidre Dolan
Gotham Books $30
If you loved the hit TV show “Seinfeld,” co-created by Larry David, then you’re probably already a fan of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” or should be.
Once Seinfeld called it quits, David decided to channel his extraordinary and often offbeat humor back on the tube, starring himself. The show’s an acquired taste but once you’re hooked, you’ll stay hooked. And if you’re new to the show, this oversized book is a must, summarizing every episode in the first five seasons with cast, crew, writers, pictures and backstage info. Mark this down as a great gift for fans of the program.