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Tipping Point: Our picks and pans

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Book tip

Outside the Gates of Eden

Lewis Shiner

For whatever reason, a great rock novel seems like a sure-thing idea, and yet it's a rarely realized concept. That Lewis Shiner has written THREE of them is almost unfair. First was "Glimpses," then "Say Goodbye" and, last year, the epic "Outside the Gates of Eden." The latter seems ill-designed for the modern, attention-compromised consumer. At 900-plus pages, "Eden" traces the lives of two high school best friends from their first cover band in the mid-'60s all the way to current times. If it occurs to you that that slice of time precisely reflects the flash and dreams of the Woodstock generation up to and including President Trump, well, it's no coincidence. Shiner's characters and intertwined stories are remarkable and irresistible from the first page, and his ability and knowledge to hit every major and minor cultural moment along the tumultuous parade route of the darkening American Dream is uncanny, heartbreaking and, ultimately, full of soul and resilience. And the dude writes about music with sublime affection — but not to the point of blind adulation. Think you have no interest or time for a book this long? Think again. This is a masterpiece that will haunt you for a long time.

— Rick Koster

Food tip

Greek veggie wrap

Village Cafe, 190 Flanders Road, East Lyme

Friends and I decided to try this new breakfast-and-lunch place, and it was a happy eating experience. While they went with the BLT sandwich and the roast beef cheddar melt, I zeroed in on the Greek veggie wrap ($5.95). It is listed under the “Morning” portion of the menu, but go ahead and order it, like I did, for lunch. It’s egg, spinach, tomato and feta all mixed, cooked and blanketed by a wrap. What makes it really soar is the execution. So good. The cafe doesn't have a website, but the phone is (860) 739-3000.

— Kristina Dorsey

CD tip

Adjustments Made

Thomas Wenglinski

A friend back home tipped me off to this young Austin musician, just graduating from UT and off to the elite University of Miami School of Music. Not only is Thomas Wenglinski one of those hyper-talented young artists, he's clearly putting in the work to maximize his gifts. One thing that's a bit surprising: He appears enamored of a long-ago era in which fusion and so-called smooth jazz artists walked the Earth. This is eminently listenable music, extremely well played and composed, and produced with a sophisticated ear. If you miss the days that gave us the Crusaders, the Pat Metheny Group, Shadowfax, Spyrogyra, Weather Report and Pieces of a Dream, give "Adjustments Made" a listen. Then sit back and let's see where Wenglinski takes us over what should be an amazing career.

— Rick Koster





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