BETTY STEIN: It’s book time again — some new and some classics

Book time!

And I suppose we’ll start off with “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” written by Michael Wolff. As you know, it topped the Best Seller list for weeks. I tried to buy it to send as a gift only to be told the store was sold out of it and it would not be available for fourteen days. Fortunately, I had access to it for my own reading, so I read it.

As you know, it is a picture of a completely dysfunctional White House. I’m sure my jaw dropped several times as I was reading it. The names the reader encounters are almost all very well known to us and they become even more so during the pages of this book. I have one argument with it: the author does not use quotation marks but he does an awful lot of quoting. We read of conversation after conversation and there seem to be direct quotes — but where did these statements really come from? Who are the sources? I don’t doubt the veracity. I just wish for a little more clarity. If you haven’t read it yet, go for it. It’s now accessible.

Then there’s “Rooster Bar, by John Grisham. It, too, has been on the Best Seller list for week after week. John Grisham’s books do that. They soar to the top and stay there for quite a while because he tells fascinating stories. I think it’s pretty well agreed his isn’t the world’s most mellifluous writing but the story is usually intriguing and teaches us, too.

Well, so does this. You will feel for the young people who find themselves tremendously in debt as they get their legal education. The situations are deplorable — the debts high — some of the institutions using unadulterated scam methods to entrap the would-be attorneys. Then the protagonists get involved and start fighting back. It’s quite an adventure-filled journey, and you’ll probably enjoy the ride.

“Fools and Mortals” gets its title from Shakespeare himself. “What fools these mortals be!” announces Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In this very readable novel by Bernard Cornwell, you’ll be reading about this play as you follow Richard Shakespeare growing older and wanting more roles and portraying men, no longer confined to women’s roles. Richard is the rather estranged brother of William Shakespeare. William keeps his brother almost in penury and keeps casting him as a woman — almost like a punishment, it seems… And this is a novel that puts the reader back in Elizabethan times in the world of the theatre and it is written in the language of the era, as well… As you know, religious zealots did not approve of theatre so performances were given outside London where more freedom prevailed.

There’s much to be learned about playwriting and production during those wonderful days of Shakespeare’s incomparable writing. As the story develops, a very valuable script disappears and our boy Richard is mistaken for the culprit You’ll have a fine time following the turns and twists.

I was also going to write about Brad Meltzer’s book, “The President’s Shadow,” but I’ll save that for another day because Reva, a reader of this column, sent me a challenge I am passing on to you. She said it’s from Hemingway and it’s to write a short story — only six words long. The touching story she enclosed as an example is “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Now let’s see what you come up with.

Betty E. Stein is a resident of Fort Wayne.