Miss Dustinea Jacquette,
Retired Spinsterish Librarian
Two totally different books should capture your attention as they did mine: About the Author by John Colapinto, and The Psychology of the Sopranos by Glen O. Gabbard, MD.
Colapinto is a well-known writer of columns for Rolling Stone and other mags. Here, he has a book within a book, within a book. Cal Cunningham is a would be writer without so much a word on paper. His roommate taps out a novel on his computer while studying to be an attorney. Cal is jealous. Then Stewart, the roommate, is killed accidentally. Does Cal steal his novel? What do you think? He inserts his name as author and becomes rich and famous. Which is all well and good, till Cal discovers that someone else is in possession of a copy of the original manuscript. Colapinto weaves together an absorbing tale of literary ambition and a cat-and-mouse thriller as Cal and his blackmailer pursue each other to the very death.
The final outcome of this novel is totally unexpected. You must borrow it from your local library and let it take you away. Let me know how you feel afterwards....
"Love, death, desire, and betrayal in America's favorite gangster family" is the subtitle of The Psychology of the Sopranos. And Dr. Gabbard gives you his professional opinions of whether Tony is treatable, why his marriage is a continuance of his boyhood standoff with his mother, Livia, and how Dr. Melfi, his shrink, has made some mistakes in her treatment but is still a pivotal character. In fact, the real story of the Sopranos is not who's to get whacked next, but what Tony will find out about himself in his next psychiatric session. On whether Tony is treatable, Dr. Gabbard has this to say, "Because he experiences anxiety, depression, conflict and the capacity for guilt...it is possible to make contact with his conscience and maybe to dissuade him from further violence." Dr. Gabbard has insights that seem to be right on. What he says about Carmela's and Tony's marriage can apply to any relationship or marriage. What do you think of these words? "Most marriages involve some self-imposed suffering, the origins of which are externalized and blamed on the partner." Don't you know of these partnerships? He goes on, "Marriage is a game of grievance collection. Over time the partners feel significantly mistreated and irreparably hurt, but they are deeply committed to perpetuating the relationship as a way of providing a constant reminder to the spouse of his or her insensitivities and shortcomings." Whoa! Dr. Gabbard, you must have treated people I know in addition to Tony Soprano! There is so much to this relatively short book that we could spend hours...in fact, it could be a book club selection.
You may not be a Sopranos viewer, but even if you've never seen an episode you could read this book and get something out of it. "Tony could have learned a thing or two from A.J's (his son's) favorite philosopher, Nietzsche, who said, 'He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.'"
[Reprinted with permission from Palm-Mensa, newsletter of Palm Beach County, FL Mensa.]