Liz Smith: Divine and Compelling

“RESIST THE Devil and he will flee from you,” says James 4:7 in The New Testament.

I always knew that my obstreperous friend Linda Stasi was a smart cookie. (She has a byline every day in the back TV section of The New York Post.) But I never realized she was so much on my wave length as when I went to her first book party at the Friars Club this week.

There Linda was with the world of celebrity TV VIP’s whirling around her and she whispers to me. “Liz, I told you first about this book I was writing years ago!” And I said, brightly: “Linda, if only you knew how many people have told me about the book they are writing and it never materializes. So congratulations on The Sixth Station — you did it!”

Linda, realizing I am approaching a great age myself, whispered how old she is to me. But this is a secret I’m bound to keep because this Italian looker, has become a total bombshell. She looks about 30 and as if she is probably not able to recognize the names of Milton Berle and Frank Sinatra, names that abound in the Friars Club. Linda made a terrific speech to the assembled.

She has it all, this girl — intelligence, wit, sarcasm, understanding of her under-whelming field of expertise (What’s on TV! And what’s good and what’s mostly bad!)

Linda also has a daughter she is proud of and a great guy in her life. (The rest of us should be jealous.)

What astounded me about The Sixth Station, which I started when I got home from her party and am about half way through, is the Da Vinci Code controversial type thriller plot settled onto some expert historical research into the sacred and the Satanic and the divine and the Devilish.

I had just been talking to some former nuns, friends of mine who had asked me (a religious expert) about Mary the mother of Jesus? Lo and behold, I had answered uncertainly that there was a myth, legend, to the effect that Mary, after the Crucifixion, was airlifted mysteriously from Ephesus in Turkey to some place in Italy. (I had only scraps of this myth in my mind, but I was trying to explain it anyway.)

Lo and behold, on Linda’s front page of her novel — only hours after it had come up unexpectedly in conversation — was the following. If I reprint this, it won’t ruin the modern, terrorism, journalism, aspect of Linda’s smashing plot. But here is what she wrote — and if this doesn’t make you run out and buy the book from Forge (A Tom Doherty Associates), I don’t know what will.

LINDA STASI WRITES:

FACT: The most important relic in Christendom is hiding in plain sight in a monastery church of the Capuchin friars outside the small village of Manoppello, Italy.

FACT: the Home of the Virgin Mary — where evidence suggests that Jesus’ mother lived out her final years — is located in a Muslim country.

FACT: The Virgin Mary, venerated by most Muslims, is the only woman mentioned by name in the Koran, is only one of eight people to have a chapter named for them in the Koran, and is mentioned more often in the Koran than in the Bible.

FACT: In 1209, Pope Innocent III initiated the Albigensian Crusade — and with it the Papal Inquisition — to wipe out the Cathar faith, the fastest growing ‘heretical’ Christian sect in Europe. Although estimates vary widely, the death toll from that Crusade is estimated to be 200,000 – 1,000,000.

These “facts” come before Linda’s story of a modern female reporter covering the International trial at the UN of a terrorist (or saint) who makes Osama bin Laden look like nothing at all. How could I not go on reading? How can you? Highly recommended for its savvy, its disputed history and its dash!

I am guessing that the title of Linda’s novel refers to the The Sixth Station of the cross. (In this station, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus after he falls, carrying the cross.) But I’m not finished yet reading the book, so the title is anybody’s guess. Knowing Linda, it could refer to a new Starbucks.

IT RUNS in the family — talent! Justin Daly has co-produced a movie with his brother, Nicholas Daly, titled “Douglas Brown.”

Justin wrote and directed this work and it’s about an actor in trouble. What else? (Actors are always in trouble.)

The movie stars Zoe Bell and Robert Forster, both veterans of working with the famous director Quentin Tarantino.

You may wonder at Justin’s doing what comes naturally. Well, his grandmother was none other than Ingrid Bergman, the star of “Casablanca” and many another famous film. His mother is TV-radio star and New York fixture, Pia Lindström. The beautiful Isabella Rossellini is the Daly boys’ aunt. The daughter of Isabella is the international model Elettra Wiedemann, their cousin.

The Daly boys are also nephews of Dr. Ingrid Rossellini who is the twin sister of Isabella. Their step-grandpa was the Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini. (I have known these guys since they learned to walk. Greatest good luck to them.)

This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 1/25/13

Comments are closed.