On Art, Sex, and Opera

A memoir, manual, and novel look at history, relationships, and personal drive.


Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter’s Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy by Elizabeth Rynecki (New American Library, 2016, 385 pp. 28)

San Francisco-born Elizabeth Rynecki charts the story of her great-grandfather, Moshe Rynecki, a Polish Jew who perished in the Holocaust. A prolific painter, he stashed many of his works with acquaintances intending to reclaim them after the war. His widow found 120, and the author grew up with those works, which detailed the everyday lives of Polish Jews in the 1920s and 1930s, in her family home. The death of her grandfather, George, and his writings about the horrific times propel her on a journey to reclaim the presumably lost art in a memoir that also puts her on a path of healing. She will speak at noon Feb. 15 at the Magnes in Berkeley.



What People Keep Asking Me about Sex & Relationships by Isadora Alman (Sexology Press, 2010-16, $14.99, 166 pp.)

Alameda marriage and family therapist Isadora Alman has written a frank and straightforward book about healthy sexual relationships based on her decades of psychotherapy counseling on the topic. A certified sex therapist, she begins with a candid discussion of what sex is and ends with information on sex in late life. In between, she covers broad territory, from coupling and being in a relationship to talking about sex with a partner and doing it. Then there’s good sex, relationship challenges, even sex and parenting, so she leaves few stones unturned. She takes a nurturing yet forthright tone in her book, a modern-day how-to manual on sex and relationship management.



Magic Flute by Patricia Minger (She Writes Press, 2016, $16.95)

The main character of this novel, Liz Morgan, is a superb flutist whose solo playing from the orchestra pit of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute “wove enchantment around the singers” and concluded with thunderous applause. She is filled with dreams of playing in a world-renowned orchestra and doesn’t take kindly to her boyfriend’s ribbing about her more likely path toward band teaching in suburbia. A few pages later, she is fighting for her life after a car crash, bleeding with a career-ending left arm injury followed by multiple surgeries. The novel follows the determined young woman, full of pluck and ambition, on a course of learning to use her voice in the competitive world of opera. Minger grew up in Oakland.  


Published online on Jan. 4, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

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