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Has a writer ever been more productive in death than Kurt Vonnegut? It’s a mini industry, from posthumous collections of his unpublished short fiction (“Look at the Birdie,” “While Mortals Sleep”) to the hefty Library of America volumes of his life’s work, the most recent of which, “Novels & Stories, 1950-1962,” came out in April. In October, Delacorte will release a book of his letters and Vanguard will publish “We Are What We Pretend to Be: First and Last Works.”
At a recent morning assembly at an elementary school not far west of the Shinnecock Canal, the guest reader, Jay Schneiderman, was introduced as a renaissance man, if not exactly in the following words: former East Hampton Town supervisor, legislator who finally broke the County Road 39 traffic logjam, vanquisher of that tough old pol George Guldi, drummer, and now, author and illustrator.
The opening salvo of jangly guitar licks on “Ex Post Facto,” from Chris Campion’s new EP, is so arresting, practically spellbinding, it raises the question of the extent to which pure sound, at once propulsive, insistent, and melancholy, can be a character in a 4-minute- and-50-second rock ’n’ roll tale. Instrumentals can of course call to mind all manner of emotions, but what about embodying, say, futility, or striving, or loss? Any one of those could be standing over your shoulder as the disc spins.
Should you pick up the new Southampton Review expecting familiar contributors, you’d be right and wrong. First of all, who’s going to complain about opening a journal to more poems, four of them, by Billy Collins? That star of versification known for a peerless sense of humor is here contemplative — digging up an old toy truck in his backyard and thinking of the past, or pondering the oddity of the writing life.
Look Ahead, Writers
February on eastern Long Island. It can seem like the calendar’s equivalent of 3 a.m., when nothing good happens, not even snow. But using the down time to plan for better days — how about July? — is Julie Sheehan, the director of the M.F.A. program in creative writing and literature at Stony Brook Southampton, who sends word of a boatload of writing workshops bound to set heads nodding in appreciation.
Unlike the rest of us, when asked for advice Philip Galanes doesn’t have to wonder if it’s flattering or if an honest response would touch the third rail of social intercourse. As the “Social Q’s” columnist for The New York Times, it’s his job, and he’ll take on all supplicants and entertain all embarrassments.
Beyond the professional veneer, the hell of other people is further mitigated because he writes, largely, from the comfort of his East Hampton home.
We’re all different people every day, as is said. You might be a Broadway singer and actress reprising “Camelot” with Jeremy Irons one day, playing opposite Matthew Modine’s Thomas Jefferson the next, and going on to headline the Noel Coward Awards, maybe squeezing in a dinner with Alec Baldwin.