Ellis Goodman CBE- A Most Interesting Man

Dos Equis beer created a fictional character called “The Most Interesting Man in the World” for its advertising. Yet Ellis Goodman, the former CEO of U.S. Operations of Barton Brands, a major importer and distributor of Corona Beer, and the author of the book Corona: The Inside Story of America’s #1 Imported Beer may, in fact, be one of the world’s most interesting people.
A former chartered accountant in London, Mr. Goodman had many celebrity clients in the recording industry including Petula Clark and The Rolling Stones. Through these connections, he became both an investor and executive in the music business, and later did likewise in the movie industry, achieving great success in both. He is also significantly engaged in real estate and in community philanthropy.
I met Mr. Goodman this week at an event at the Glencoe Library, where he was discussing his most recently published book, The Keller Papers, an exciting and fast-paced Cold War espionage thriller set primarily in Austria and Poland during the early 1980s. One of the principal characters in the novel, Alex Campbell, is a British-born executive in the alcoholic beverage industry who has family roots in the Polish Jewish community. Campbell, on occasion, does some “little jobs” for the British M16 foreign intelligence service. It is on one of these “little jobs” that Campbell gets deeply embroiled in the defection to the West of the Polish nuclear scientist, Erik Keller, and the efforts to retrieve his highly-prized papers.
Mr. Goodman is a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Order (CBE), a prominent recognition. Like his character Campbell, he was a British-born executive in the alcoholic beverage industry and he too has family roots in the Polish Jewish community. Did he perhaps as well do some “little jobs” for M16 somewhere along the line? Mr. Goodman did neither confirm nor deny this at the Glencoe Public Library presentation, building the case for him as one of the world’s most interesting people.


Devin Murphy Will Discuss His Controversial New Novel on January 14

A New York Times review of Devin Murphy’s recent debut novel The Boat Runner states that the book is “deadly earnest, full of discomfiting nuance.” It is a first-person narrative of a young Dutchman still in his teens, Jacob Koopman, who becomes a Nazi soldier during the Second World War, and his grappling with the guilt of his decisions and actions during and after the war.
Murphy’s actual family connections and his past work experience need to be understood behind his motivation in writing the book. His mother was born in Nazi- occupied Holland in 1942. The author married into a Jewish family, and his children are being raised Jewish. His wife’s two living grandfathers are both American veterans of the Second World War. Murphy himself worked at sea for three plus years in his early twenties.
Now an assistant professor of creative writing at Bradley University, Murphy has crafted a book that explores Jacob’s odyssey into the hellish life that he chose for himself. It’s a fast-paced story, describing Jacob’s harrowing adventures. But one ponders the question that the New York Times reviewer asks at the end of her review: “Are there actions that simply remain unforgivable?”
Devin Murphy will be speaking at Emanuel Congregation, 5959 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago on Sunday morning, January 14 at 10:15. The event is free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. Please contact me at richardreeder34@gmail.com if you plan on attending.

New George Orwell Statue in London

Last month a statue of the author George Orwell was unveiled outside of Broadcasting House in London, home of the BBC. There is quite a bit of irony in this since Orwell, who worked at the BBC on broadcasts to India during the Second World War, disliked his propaganda work there immensely and found the place a total bore.
In his excellent new book, Churchill & Orwell, Thomas Ricks mentions that Orwell wrote in his diary that the BBC had an atmosphere that “is something between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum, and all we are doing at present is useless, or slightly worse.” Orwell also wrote that at the BBC “nothing ever happens except continuous dithering.”
Ricks points out that Orwell continued his digs at the BBC in his book 1984, when he named “the torture chamber in that novel ‘Room 101,’ after the conference room at the BBC’s building in London at 55 Portland Place, where he sat through meetings, deadly bored.”

A Seminar on Ben Hecht’s “1001 Afternoons in Chicago” at the Newberry Library

I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching a seminar on Ben Hecht’s book “1001 Afternoons in Chicago” at the Newberry Library in five Thursday evening sessions, starting February 15 and ending March 15, from 5:45 to 7:45. The sixty-four incredibly imaginative sketches in the book capture the heart and soul of Chicago’s bustling urban landscape during the early 1920s. There couldn’t be more of an appropriate venue to have this seminar, since the Hecht archives are housed at the Newberry, and Walnut and Dearborn, where the library is located, is designated “Honorary Ben Hecht Way” by the city of Chicago. For registration information go to http://www.newberry.org or call 312-255-3700.

Upcoming Literary Events

January and February are the perfect months to attend literary events in Chicago. The weather outside is usually horrid; thus, limiting our outdoor activities. It is truly a time conducive to listening to authors discuss their books. Here is an interesting lineup of author events for you to consider at three separate venues starting next month:
January 27-Stuart Dybek will be discussing “Coast of Chicago.”
February 22-Angela Jackson will be discussing “A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun: The Life & Legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks.”
The Cliff Dwellers Book Club
200 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago.
Discussion begins at 11:00 am
Free and open to the public. Lunch is available at the club after the discussion.

January 14-Devin Murphy will be discussing “The Boat Runner.”
February 11-Renee Rosen will be discussing “Windy City Blues.”
Emanuel Congregation Speakers Series
5959 North Sheridan Road,
Chicago. Discussion begins at 10:15 am
Free and open to the public

January 15-Ronald Balson will be discussing “The Trust.”
February 26-Laurie Levy will be discussing “The Stendhal Summer.”
Max and Benny’s Author Series
461 Waukegan Road, Northbrook. Discussion begins at 7:00 pm
No admission charge for speaker. Attendees order food off the menu.
If interested in attending any of these, rsvp at richardreeder34@gmail.com