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. After a winter break, selections from editor Diana Secker Tesdell’s 2016 anthology Shaken and Stirred: Intoxicating Stories (Everyman’s Pocket Classics) resume on Thursday, March 8, at 2 p.m. in our second floor auditorium.
Opening are “Wine,” by Doris Lessing and “Indiscretion,” by Guy de Maupassant. “The thematic link of Shaken and Stirred is that each story must have something to do with alcohol and drink (a play on the James Bond preferred martini), but my selections have even deeper connections,” says Wenglin. “When I choose a collection, I read every work in order to pair stories that relate to each other through plot, character and style. That leads to intriguing discussions.
“For example, in our last discussion of the fall, the paired stories by Roald Dahl and Edgar Allan Poe—though written by vastly different authors in different times and settings—dealt with elitist wine snobs who get their comeuppance! Two amusing pairings this spring include stories by Damon Runyon and O. Henry on ‘old New York’ in the early 20th century. Stay tuned!”
An ongoing tradition from Wenglin is to wrap each discussion with a relevant musical selection. “Last fall, with Poe’s victim in ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ chained to the Roman catacombs, I chose the Righteous Brothers’ haunting ‘Unchained Melody’ from 1965. My eclectic choices sometimes reflect allusions to music in the story itself, or selections from the ‘American Songbook,’ classic rock and roll, nostalgic cabaret and show tunes, with a bit of country thrown in.”
A new tradition is closing the series with an endemic film. In the fall, it was When a Man Loves a Woman on how the effects of a schoolteacher’s alcoholism and recovery impacted her and her family. The spring screening on May 25 will be the adaptation of John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” (to be discussed the day before), a cultish 1968 film starring Burt Lancaster as a handsome suburbanite who decides to “swim” home through the pools of his wealthy friends, with each encounter revealing an aspect of his troubled past. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 100%, based on 22 critic reviews.
The free discussion 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 our website. Copies of the anthology are available to borrow, and for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the spring schedule. All are on Thursdays from 2:00-4:15 p.m., except for the screening of The Swimmer, which will be on a Friday:
♦ March 8: “Wine,” by Doris Lessing” and “Indiscretion,” by Guy de Maupassant
♦ March 22: “Party,” by Penelope Lively and “Dinner on the Rocks” by Dawn Powell
♦ April 19: “A Bachelor’s Party,” by Charles Dickens and “Clout’s Fling,” by Colette
♦ May 3: “The Lost Blend,” by O. Henry, and “Lillian,” by Damon Runyon
♦ May 24: “The Swimmer, ” by John Cheever
♦ May 25: The Swimmer (film screening)