Recent Stories: Books

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,

April 7, 2016
The persona of Dan Giancola’s “Here’s the Thing” has been around the block and then some. The book’s title establishes the hip persona whose contemporary clichés are a cover-up for dealing with a dark world.

“Here’s the Thing”
Dan Giancola 
Street Press, $15 

 

The persona of Dan Giancola’s “Here’s the Thing” has been around the block and then some.

Star Staff
April 7, 2016
She may be “the best-selling author of 23 novels,” as the promotional materials say, but did you know Jodi Picoult wrote five issues of Wonder Woman for DC Comics? Just one tidbit from the Nesconset native’s long and successful writing career, which began with getting two short stories into Seventeen magazine while she was still at Princeton.

She may be “the best-selling author of 23 novels,” as the promotional materials say, but did you know Jodi Picoult wrote five issues of Wonder Woman for DC Comics? Just one tidbit from the Nesconset native’s long and successful writing career, which began with getting two short stories into Seventeen magazine while she was still at Princeton. 

Star Staff
March 31, 2016
Curious about Guild Hall’s new Guild House and the artists in residence therein? Saturday is your chance to hear two of them read from their work: poetry by Tom Yuill, the author of “Medicine Show,” called a mix of “down-home plain speech and European high culture,” and fiction by Iris Smyles, whose “Dating Tips for the Unemployed” will come out in June.

Those Guild House Writers

March 31, 2016
Having been assigned Louis Begley’s new novel, “Kill and Be Killed,” I have, I confess, committed the first sin of book reviewers. I did not finish the novel. I apologize, but I just could not. If Mr. Begley and his publishers deign to read this modest review, they will undoubtedly use this admission to disregard any momentary sting my words may cause them, then chalk the whole thing up to snark.

“Kill and Be Killed”
Louis Begley
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $25.95

Baylis Greene
March 24, 2016
You’d think by now the paperback release would’ve gone the way of the rooftop aerial antenna. It can’t all be about convenience for air travel, can it? Consumer-friendliness, maybe? But by the time the cheaper paperback comes out, the Gorilla Grodd of retail, Amazon, has already had its way with the price point. To say nothing of the e-book.

“The Whites”
Richard Price
Picador, $16

 

You’d think by now the paperback release would’ve gone the way of the rooftop aerial antenna. 

March 17, 2016
Nearly 30 years ago, I donated a collection of family letters from the World War I period to the New York Public Library. In her acknowledgment letter, the head of the library’s manuscripts department stated the importance of having “records of the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary times.” I was constantly reminded of that admirable turn of phrase as I read Patricia Luce Chapman’s thoroughly charming memoir, “Tea on the Great Wall: An American Girl in War-Torn China.”

“Tea on the Great Wall”
Patricia Luce Chapman
Earnshaw Books, $19.95

March 10, 2016
“The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship” is a narrative of comradeship and grief, of love and woe. Paul Lisicky offers an honest and sometimes raw account of his relationships with two major players in his life, and outlines the intersection of loss that marked his experience. The work takes up Mr. Lisicky’s friendship with the writer Denise Gess — a long and intimate friendship of 30 years. He describes her vitality, her magnetic quality, her passion for writing and talking about writing.

“The Narrow Door”
Paul Lisicky
Graywolf Press, $16

Sheridan Sansegundo
March 3, 2016
The Pushcart Prize is celebrating its 40th anniversary; 40 years of bringing us the very best new writing from America’s small presses, whose sheer passion and strength of purpose keep them afloat in the face of the multinational publishing behemoths. Celebrate is the appropriate word.

“Pushcart Prize XL”

Edited by Bill Henderson

Pushcart Press, $19.95