Recent Stories: Books

Star Staff
July 14, 2016
You might think that “literary death match” refers to any Tuesday morning staff meeting in the beleaguered publishing industry, but in fact it’s a competitive reading, poetry slam-style, and it’s coming to Stony Brook Southampton’s Avram Theater at 7 Saturday night. Its double purpose? To hail the release of the new Southampton Review literary journal, courtesy of the college’s M.F.A. program in creative writing and literature.

You might think that “literary death match” refers to any Tuesday morning staff meeting in the beleaguered publishing industry, but in fact it’s a competitive reading, poetry slam-style, and it’s coming to Stony Brook Southampton’s Avram Theater at 7 Saturday night. Its double purpose?

July 14, 2016
Today’s headlines mirror the tension contained in every line of “The Butler’s Child.” Lewis M. Steel describes a life well lived, with one eye on a privileged upbringing as a Warner Brothers heir and the other on his chosen career as a revolutionary civil rights lawyer

“The Butler’s Child”
Lewis M. Steel
Thomas Dunne Books, $27.99

Star Staff
July 7, 2016
Neal Gabler has turned his culture critic’s sights on none other than Barbra Streisand for his new book, and he’ll discuss it on July 9 at 6 p.m. to lead off the Amagansett Library’s free summer reading series, Authors After Hours.

Neal Gabler, the author of hefty books on the founding of Hollywood and the history of gossip, has turned his culture critic’s sights on none other than Barbra Streisand for his new one. The book is subtitled “Redefining Beauty, Femininity, and Power,” and he’ll discuss it on July 9 at 6 p.m.

July 7, 2016
The New ­York City Board of Education, in its infinite wisdom circa 1955, divided a long-established school district in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn to create banjo-shaped Wingate High. Had it not, I would have gone to legendary Erasmus Hall and been a classmate of the soon-to-be famous Barbra Streisand. But would I have noticed?

“Barbra Streisand”
Neal Gabler
Yale University Press, $25

Star Staff
July 7, 2016
There are readings, and then there are readings out in the famous late-afternoon light of this water-surrounded place, taken in with a plastic tumbler of pinot grigio and soft cheese smeared on a cracker. That would be the Hampton Library’s Fridays at Five series in Bridgehampton, which begins on July 8.

There are readings — and out here in the Hamptons in the summertime you might say a lot of them — and then there are readings out in the famous late-afternoon light of this water-surrounded place, taken in with a plastic tumbler of pinot grigio and soft cheese smeared on a cracker.

June 30, 2016
Iris Smyles’s new book is a hybrid work, a mix of autobiographical fiction and humor writing that builds a witty, of-a-certain-moment novel. With an unpredictable blend of the confessional and the satirical, the absurdist and the heartfelt, Ms. Smyles chronicles the ins and outs and overnights of a 21st-century single writer-about-town who dwells in the country of her 30s, between youth and midlife.

“Dating Tips
for the Unemployed”

By Iris Smyles

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Mariner Books, $15.95

Baylis Greene
June 30, 2016
When it came time for Iris Smyles to meet with the publicity people at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to “do the usual thing of getting blurbs,” as she put it, for her book “Dating Tips for the Unemployed,” the ass-kissing and self-promotion could’ve sent her soul fleeing her body like a shirt ripped from a hanger. Instead, pausing in her consumption of some takeout, she noticed a promotion from the online company that had delivered it, a contest, really — your testimonial here, or something like.

When it came time for Iris Smyles to meet with the publicity people at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to “do the usual thing of getting blurbs,” as she put it over the weekend, for her book “Dating Tips for the Unemployed,” which came out this week, the ass-kissing and self-promotion could’ve sent

Star Staff
June 23, 2016
Montauk. It’s all the rage. But there’s cool Montauk, day-tripping Montauk, partying Montauk, and then there’s a somewhat more authentic Montauk, exemplified by the grizzled veterans of the fish-stinking rocky promontory who’ve put their literary heads together to come up with an anthology celebrating the place.

Montauk. It’s all the rage. But there’s cool Montauk, day-tripping Montauk, partying Montauk, and then there’s a somewhat more authentic Montauk, exemplified by the grizzled veterans of the fish-stinking rocky promontory who’ve put their literary heads together to come up with an anthology celebrating the place. 

June 23, 2016
While it is a truth that anyone who lives to old age will experience inevitable deterioration, the facts of each case go universally unacknowledged. The personal reality of decline is hard to express, takes time away from life itself, and conflicts with the abundance narrative — youth, marriage, sex, and childbirth are more celebrated. Who wants to dwell on death?

Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.

       — from “Gerontion” by T.S. Eliot

Baylis Greene
June 16, 2016
Chris Knopf has left the fabulous Hamptons behind for the browner pastures of the Bronx. In “Back Lash,” the seventh installment in what is the original of his several series of crime novels, the geographically pretentious reference has even been excised from the cover, the billing simply reading “A Sam Acquillo Mystery.”

“Back Lash”
Chris Knopf
Permanent Press, $29

Baylis Greene
June 9, 2016
Is history soft, malleable, open to interpretation? Or is it stiffly a matter of facts, immutable, regardless of the “perspective” (that overused word, at once inclusive and diminishing) of the beholder?

“East Hampton”

Richard Barons and Isabel Carmichael

Arcadia, $24.99

Is history soft, malleable, open to interpretation? Or is it stiffly a matter of facts, immutable, regardless of the “perspective” (that overused word, at once inclusive and diminishing) of the beholder?

June 2, 2016
By Bruce Buschel

After your first cup of Peet’s
you remember you can’t write
code and never could hit a curve

You can’t mobilize an army
brat and you haven’t a green
thumb to while away the rosy day

After a second cup of Peet’s
you remember you can’t deracinate
a spleen and can’t even find one

June 2, 2016
Stars-in-the-eyes young poet meets literary and art world icons in the Hamptons. And re-meets and reconsiders. And admires. And continues to honor and to create his own work.

“A Hole in the Ocean”

Sandy McIntosh

Marsh Hawk Press, $16

May 25, 2016
Of contemporary spy novelists, Alan Furst is the undisputed king of historical espionage. The majority of his 14 novels are set in Europe during the 1930s and ’40s, dealing primarily with the machinations of resistance fighters and spies — with a love affair or two thrown in for good measure. At their best they are atmospheric and suspenseful, occasionally lyrical, and often infused with a dash of erotic heat; Mr. Furst is the rare contemporary novelist who writes well about sexuality.

“A Hero of France”

Alan Furst

Random House, $27

May 19, 2016
In the famous arrogance of youth, old age is the shore we’ll never reach.

“The Lioness in Winter”

Ann Burack-Weiss

Columbia University Press, $30

Thomas Bohlert
May 12, 2016
Especially in a presidential election year such as this one, it is timely and interesting to delve into the backgrounds of the forces that are shaping the political scene. Neil J. Young has given us a detailed and thought-provoking history of one of those movements in “We Gather Together: The Religious Right and the Problem of Interfaith Politics.”

“We Gather Together”

Neil J. Young

Oxford University Press, $34.95

Star Staff
May 5, 2016
Friends, now is the time to hear your neighbors rise up and read from their workshopped essays, the result of their efforts in a class led by Carla Riccio of the Hayground School, who’s a former Dial Press editor, by the by. It starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

Essay Readings at Rogers

Friends, now is the time to hear your neighbors rise up and read from their workshopped essays, the result of their efforts in a class led by Carla Riccio of the Hayground School, who’s a former Dial Press editor, by the by. It starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

Baylis Greene
May 5, 2016
“Think about it this way,” Jason the neck-tattooed motorcycle aficionado says to his adopted daughter in Simon Van Booy’s new novel, “Father’s Day,” explaining his lack of even one date during her two decades in his life, “I’m a single parent with no money, a dead-end job, a fake leg, bad teeth, and a criminal record. Plus I’m a recovering alcoholic. What loser could ever love a person like that?”

“Father’s Day”

Simon Van Booy

Harper, $24.99

April 28, 2016
There are several historians who have given those of us who reside on the end of Long Island a series of enlightening books that examine epochs from our past with careful scholarship and surprising conclusions. Within the last 20 years, these authors have unearthed remarkable documents that open up what was once a foggy past obscured by folklore, misconceptions, and Eurocentric posturing.

“The Saltwater Frontier”

Andrew Lipman

Yale University Press, $38

April 21, 2016
Antje Katcher's posthumous collection, "Catechism," traces her poetry's arc from liturgical influences to the tranquillity of nature to personal history.

“Catechism”
Antje Katcher
Three Mile Harbor Press, $15

Biddle Duke
April 19, 2016
William Finnegan, a staff writer for The New Yorker, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography on Monday for his memoir, "Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life," the story of a coming of age of a sport and a man.

William Finnegan, a staff writer for The New Yorker, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography on Monday for his memoir, "Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life," the spellbinding story of a coming of age of a sport and a man.

April 14, 2016
Alida Brill has impeccable timing. The assignment to review “Dear Princess Grace, Dear Betty: The Memoir of a Romantic Feminist” came on March 8, International Women’s Day. And the book will be released this month amid an election cycle full of conjecture about the fate of Hillary Clinton, the first woman to launch a serious presidential campaign.

“Dear Princess Grace, Dear Betty”

Alida Brill

Schaffner Press, $24.95

Star Staff
April 14, 2016
Paul Lisicky, whose new book, “The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship,” has drawn an inordinate amount of praise and attention, including the full treatment from The New York Times (a weekday review followed by one in the Sunday supplement a month later), has won a Guggenheim fellowship. The category is creative arts, according to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation’s website, with general nonfiction listed as his field of study.

Paul Lisicky, whose new book, “The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship,” has drawn an inordinate amount of praise and attention, including the full treatment from The New York Times (a weekday review followed by one in the Sunday supplement a month later), has won a Guggenheim fellowship.

April 14, 2016
From Grace Schulman’s 2013 collection, “Without a Claim.” Ms. Schulman, who lives part time in Springs, will be awarded the Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal for lifetime achievement on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the National Arts Club in Manhattan.

Seeing, in April, hostas unfurl like arias,
and tulips, white cups inscribed with licks of flame,
gaze feverish, grown almost to my waist,
and the oaks raise new leaves for benediction,