Recent Stories: Books

April 26, 2018
From “Blue Rose,” a new collection by Carol Muske-Dukes

He rode “no hands,” speeding
headlong down the hill near
our house, his arms extended,
held rigid away from his body,
our small daughter behind him
on the bike in her yellow sunsuit,
bareheaded. She held on to him
for her life. I watched them from
above — helpless. A failed brake.
Far below us, a stop-sign rose
like a child’s toy shield. He could
not stop. He would not. That hunger
for display overrode danger, illusions
of safety. Even death had less to do
with it than the will’s eventual triumph
over stasis: how he’d finally fly free
and how she might accompany him,
as an audience travels with a performer,

Baylis Greene
April 19, 2018
Writers Speak wraps up, while Schultz and Schulman hit Canio's

Writers Wrap It Up

There’s still time. Time before the students scatter and the tumbleweeds chase each other across Stony Brook Southampton’s web of footpaths, before an army of golfers and a small city’s worth golf fans descend on Shinnecock Hills, just a 3-iron across County Road 39, come the U.S. Open in June. Time still, that is, to catch the final guest readers in the spring’s Writers Speak series on Wednesday, courtesy of the M.F.A. program in creative writing and literature.

Evan Harris
April 19, 2018
To be buried or cremated, that is the question for one skirt-chasing, peep show-visiting, Bukowski-reading baby boomer.

“Tombstone: 
(Not a Western)”

Francis Levy
Black Rose Writing, $17.95

To be buried or cremated, that is the question. “Tombstone: (Not a Western)” is an absurdist tour of one man’s neurotic approach to his own demise. Our mapless guide is the unlikable but very funny Robert Bernstein, a skirt-chasing, peep show-visiting, Bukowski-reading baby boomer with a serious case of male pattern self-absorption who is constantly trying to get a leg up in a world full of barriers to getting your obit in The New York Times. 

April 19, 2018
By Bruce Buschel

We were cleaning up the dinner
dishes with heads full of wine 
(and fantasies). Out of nowhere 
she said she had found a powdery 

mildew on her clematis. Gulp. 
I scoured the pots with extra gusto.
Then she muttered something 
about needing platycodon. Message 

received. Loud and clear. When all 
the dishes were tucked away she
asked if fritillaria would be okay with
me. Hot damn. Back in business! 


Bruce Buschel is a writer, producer, and director who lives in Bridgehampton.

Baylis Greene
April 10, 2018
Rocky Graziano and Tony Zale fought the fiercest trilogy of title bouts of the 20th century, matching an ex-con from the slums against an upstanding Midwesterner.

“Rocky Graziano: Fists, Fame, and Fortune”
Jeffrey Sussman
Rowman & Littlefield, $36

Let’s begin at the middle. Because for Rocky Graziano that also means the peak, his epic trilogy of title bouts with Tony Zale from 1946 to 1948, “the bloodiest, most intensely fought middleweight fights of the 20th century,” Jeffrey Sussman writes in his new biography, “Rocky Graziano: Fists, Fame, and Fortune.” They matched the immigrant slums versus the industrial heartland, he writes, “the streetfighter, the Italian delinquent, the ex-convict who fought like a junkyard dog against the upright, all-American, clean-living good guy.”

April 10, 2018
By Thayer Cory

Have you a place where, when the world ends, you want to be?
– William Stafford

Here where the sea

   breathes in and out

a steady pulse of always

 

Where sand-stunted pines

   and snarled underbrush

link arms around the house

 

Here between the scalloped hem

   of the tide line

and the smooth rim of the world

 

Where waves unfurl their ruin

   and primal shell homes

whisper Listen Now

 

I will be here where the dog chases

   sandpipers up the beach

April 3, 2018
A thorough and thoroughly engrossing guide to the 17th-century twists and turns that established the reigning British family’s unbroken line over the last 300-plus years.

“Daughters of 
the Winter Queen”

Nancy Goldstone
Little, Brown, $30

Next month, millions of people around the world will tune in to watch the royal nuptials of Prince Harry and the American actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle in England. For those not well versed in British history and wondering how the current royal family came to its enviable position, Nancy Goldstone’s new book, “Daughters of the Winter Queen,” offers a thorough and thoroughly engrossing guide to the “astonishing twists and turns” of the 17th century that established the over-300-year “unbroken line” of the reigning British family.

Judy D’Mello
March 27, 2018
Read in our often bewildering #MeToo world, Meg Wolitzer’s “The Female Persuasion” is an almost prophetic tale of gender and power, shaped by a sustained inquiry into relationships.

“The Female Persuasion”
Meg Wolitzer
Riverhead Books, $28

I wish a male reviewer had been assigned Meg Wolitzer’s timely and clever new novel, “The Female Persuasion.” It could have been an edifying exercise in literary biases, since Ms. Wolitzer has too often been labeled a writer of “women’s fiction.” That is to say, her stories vibrate with nuanced insights and observations, mostly about relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives, men and women, women and women. Or, as V.S. Naipaul, the Nobel laureate, called it, “all that feminine tosh.”

Baylis Greene
March 20, 2018
Chris Knopf’s latest mystery involves the clubbing death of a deep-undercover intelligence operative, black-jumpsuited ninja types, and the fine cabinetry and company of one Sam Acquillo.

“Tango Down”
Chris Knopf
Permanent Press, $29.95

It begins with a local’s dream: Construction on yet another too-large Hamptons house of questionable taste has been halted. But there’s a catch, as “facedown in a slurry of blood, sawdust, and cutoffs from the finish work going on around the windows and door frames” is the moneyed homeowner, one Victor Bollings, a high-powered international business consultant. He’s had his head stove in with one of his own golf clubs. Though one wonders, a driver? With the composites these days, you can almost hear the harmless ping.

March 13, 2018
Reading Martin Amis’s new nonfiction collection, “The Rub of Time,” you almost wish he wasn’t so proficient a fiction writer, and a world-class one at that. Success has thinned Mr. Amis’s need for grunt work.

“The Rub of Time”
Martin Amis
Knopf, $28.95

Sheridan Sansegundo
March 6, 2018
Alafair Burke’s “The Wife” asks a worrying question: If you suffer through a traumatic event, do you recover? Or do you just think you have recovered?

“The Wife”
Alafair Burke
Harper, $26.99

The first thing that hits you upon opening “The Wife” is its uncanny timeliness. Angela’s husband, a charismatic economics professor at N.Y.U., Jason Powell, is accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by a college intern. The book came out soon after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke and the #MeToo movement started and focuses on many of the same questions that until that moment had simply been swept back under the proverbial rug.

Judy D’Mello
February 27, 2018
A.J. Jacobs confirms the beguiling promise of ancestry-hunting: to construct a narrative for yourself that is more interesting than the one you’ve got.

“It’s All Relative:
Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree”
A.J. Jacobs
Simon and Schuster, $27

A decade ago there was no point even considering researching your roots if you weren’t prepared to spend days, months, or potentially years trawling through dusty registers and reels of microfilm. But now, people just sit at their kitchen table on an otherwise unexceptional weekday morning and drool saliva into a test tube.

Baylis Greene
February 20, 2018
How do you figure out what comes next after what gave your life meaning is gone?

“The Book of Resting Places”
Thomas Mira y Lopez
Counterpoint, $26

I don’t know if “tour de force” can be applied to a 23-page essay on death — big subject, limited space — but Thomas Mira y Lopez packs so much, so subtly and so smoothly, into “Memory, Memorial” that a reader can be forgiven for wondering. 

February 13, 2018
Philip Schultz’s new collection of poems, though steeped in loss, may well provide you with all you need to rise above pain and despondency.

“Luxury”
Philip Schultz
W.W. Norton, $26.95

In his latest collection of new poems, Philip Schultz explores the existential quagmire so many 21st-century inhabitants find themselves struggling to rationalize their continued existence within. Mr. Schultz’s “Luxury” is imbued with sadness and steeped in loss. In an increasingly godless world characterized by greed, suffering, incompetence, illness, and decreasing life spans, how can we continue to thrive? The poet seems to suggest that happiness is simply another human illusion, one we may need to reconcile using as a barometer of contentedness.

February 6, 2018
If there is a barometer for pints of blood loss in books on crime, Kerriann Flanagan Brosky has chosen a wide range of felonious activity — horrifying to mundane. The mercury level is in the middle.

“Historic Crimes of Long Island”
Kerriann Flanagan Brosky
History Press, $21.99

It has been said that it is in our very nature to enjoy reading about murders and mayhem, but only as long as those bloody tales are seen as safely removed from our own protected existence. Since the beginning of time, we humans have been quite fascinated by crime and punishment. It is an instinct and a passion. Whether our ancestors eagerly queued up to watch early Christians get stoned to death or waited for the next edition of The London Times to catch up on Jack the Ripper’s latest escapade of slaughter, for better or worse, murder has held the headlines.

Star Staff
February 6, 2018
The Star welcomes submissions of essays for its “Guestwords” column of between 700 and 1,200 words. Submissions can be sent for review by email, in text or Word format, to submissions@ehstar.com.

The Star welcomes submissions of essays for its “Guestwords” column of between 700 and 1,200 words. Submissions can be sent for review by email, in text or Word format, to submissions@ehstar.com.

Please include a short biographical author’s note. Submissions should be final drafts. We cannot accept multiple versions of a piece. Selected work will be published in the newspaper as well as on our website, easthamptonstar.com.

Jamie Bufalino
January 30, 2018
BookEnds — a workshop established by Susan Scarf Merrell and Meg Wolitzer of Stony Brook Southampton’s M.F.A. program in creative writing.

Six aspiring novelists — all graduates of Stony Brook Southampton’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing — are sitting in a conference room on campus waiting to meet their mentors and receive the latest critique of their work. They’re pioneers, the first students chosen to take part in the BookEnds program, a new workshop established by the faculty members Susan Scarf Merrell, author of the critically acclaimed novel “Shirley,” and Meg Wolitzer, whose novels include the 2013 New York Times best seller “The Interestings.” 

January 30, 2018
Pushcart calls itself the “best of the small presses,” but its mission is large, and the big, meaningful questions humanity must ask can be found inside.

“Pushcart Prize XLII”
Edited by Bill Henderson
Pushcart Press, $19.95

There’s something downright virtuous in welcoming the Pushcart Prize every year. Hello, you editors, writers, and all concerned, I am with you, voting with my reading time for the independent. Read: the not corporate. Let us perpetuate the spirit of independence by participating! 

Pushcart calls itself the “best of the small presses.” Small how? In scale of production, perhaps, in how much cash enters and runs the endeavor, but not, clearly, in breadth of mission. The big, the meaningful, the questions humanity must ask can be found here.

January 23, 2018
“Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel” is the monumental result of Francine Klagsbrun's decade-long effort to understand the woman who became prime minister.

“Lioness”
Francine Klagsbrun
Schocken Books, $40

January 17, 2018
Nathan Sanford of Bridgehampton had a significant yet undervalued early influence on issues like universal suffrage, voter apathy, and political patronage.

“Reluctant Reformer”
Ann Sandford
Excelsior Editions, $29.95

Can a family member be a dispassionate biographer, even when writing about a distant ancestor, or will the romance of family legend and lore lead to a loss of objectivity? 

Kurt Wenzel
January 9, 2018
“Don’t Save Anything” contains a number of James Salter pieces that are indispensable, many of them rescued from boxes stored in places reachable only with a ladder.

“Don’t Save Anything”
James Salter
Counterpoint, $26

It is a near certainty in publishing that when a writer of renown passes away, a year or so later a haphazard collection will appear in bookstores. It is almost always a flimsy thing, this book, which may include some uncollected magazine pieces, a few poignant letters, a book review or two, some lost poems — any scraps the writer’s estate can find to pad what is advertised as the final word of a great writer. Twenty-six dollars, please. 

This was the fear in learning the daunting title of a new book of nonfiction by James Salter (who died in 2015), “Don’t Save Anything: Uncollected Essays, Articles, and Profiles.” 

January 9, 2018
A new poem by Philip Schultz in memory of Robert Long

    The dispersion and reconstitution of the self.

    That’s the whole story. — Charles Baudelaire

In memory of Robert Long

January 2, 2018
“Deadly Cure” by Lawrence Goldstone, a medical detective story set in Brooklyn in 1899, could have been written about the current opioid crisis.

“Deadly Cure”
Lawrence Goldstone
Pegasus Books, $25.95

“Deadly Cure,” a new novel by Lawrence Goldstone, the author of several previous novels as well as a number of nonfiction historical works, takes place in New York City at the dawning of the 20th century. It is September of 1899, and the brand-new age of electricity. “Reading was so much more pleasant by incandescent light. These rooms were his first that did not use gas or oil.”

December 26, 2017
The origin story of Lou Reed, from Long Island wiseass to victim of electroshock therapy to tutelage under the poet Delmore Schwartz.

“Lou Reed: A Life”
Anthony DeCurtis
Little, Brown, $35

In the veteran rock journalist Anthony DeCurtis’s new biography, “Lou Reed: A Life,” John Cale expounds on his Velvet Underground bandmate’s songwriting: “Lou comes to terms with himself in songs. It’s like somebody discovering their identity.”