White Plains librarian Barbara Wenglin’s short story discussion series has been a popular fixture for years, as the selections and their interpretations have produced a riveting give-and-take among the attendees. There was plenty in 2016-2017 with Love Stories, represented by such noted authors as Roald Dahl, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Vladimir Nabokov and Dorothy Parker.
These four are among the 27 writers in editor Diana Secker Tesdell’s 2016 anthology Shaken and Stirred: Intoxicating Stories (Everyman’s Pocket Classics). The title is a play on James Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” preference for his martinis. This “literary cocktail,” says Wenglin, “depicts a variety of situations and settings from the innocence of first imbibing, to the excesses of social drinking, to wild partying and hangovers and to the comeuppance of wine snobs.”
Opening the Shaken and Stirred series on Thursday, October 19, from 2 – 4:15 p.m., is “The Cut-Glass Bowl,” Fitzgerald’s 1919 short story centered on a cut-glass punch bowl, the wedding gift given by the bride’s ex-beau. But the “congratulations” came with a warning: “Evylyn, I’m going to give a present that’s as hard as you are and as beautiful and as empty and as easy to see through.” To put it mildly, the bowl is cursed with demons that go beyond the punch that filled it.
Wenglin points out that Fitzgerald was among the Shaken and Stirred writers with their own struggles with alcohol. The intangible for him, Parker and many in the anthology was Prohibition (1920-1933), which, in the words of Susan Cheever, “increased its appeal for American writers. Writers are outlaws [and] outlawing liquor gave it a delicious cachet.”
A wine cachet will come on January 18, 2018, when the fall series concludes with the screening of Somm. The 2003 documentary follows four aspiring wine stewards (sommeliers) as they prepare for the “prestigious and impossibly rigorous exam,” noted by film critics, to join the elite and secretive Court of Master Sommeliers.
This free program is made possible with the support of the Friends of the White Plains Library. You may register once for the series by calling (914) 422-1480 or through the adult calendar on the Library website www.whiteplainslibrary.org. Copies of the anthology are available to borrow.
Wenglin will again complement each work by playing what she calls “a musical selection that reflects and enhances the story’s theme.” Refreshments will be served and all are welcome, including newcomers. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the selections to be discussed this fall on these Thursdays in Galaxy Hall on the second floor from 2 – 4:15 p.m.:
♦ October 19: “The Cut-Glass Bowl,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
♦ November 9: “The Drunkard,” by Frank O’Connor and “Selection from John Barleycorn,” by Jack London
♦ November 30: “An Ounce of Cure,” by Alice Munro and “Drink,” by Sherwood Anderson
♦ December 21: “Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest” by P.G. Wodehouse and “You Were Perfectly Fine,” by Dorothy Parker
♦ January 11, 2018: “Taste,” by Roald Dahl and “The Cask of Amontillado,” by Edgar Allan Poe.
♦ January 18: Somm (documentary film screening)