Winter 2022

The Church – Arts Center (photo by Scott Frances)

During the pandemic, events slowed down considerably at our museums, theaters and cinemas. This past fall things opened up and, hopefully, the latest news of the Covid won’t reverse this. People are masked and often asked for proof of vaccination.

The mezzanine in this converted Methodist Church in Sag Harbor (above) includes a library and the floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the gallery display Eric Fischl’s portraits of artists who had some clear connection to the village in generations past. I had donated many books to the new library, and was asked for my novel, Three Rooms, Shared Bath. So now I am shelved up there along with John Steinbeck, Herman Melville, Betty Friedan, and so many famous authors who have, or had, ties to Sag Harbor.

In December I took a guided tour of Guild Hall, where art from the 2,500-piece collection was displayed in honor of the museum’s 90th anniversary. Among the artists on exhibit, were Roy Lichtenstein, Lee Krasner, Childe Hassam, Franz Kline, Audrey Flack, Fairfield Porter, Robert Motherwell, Andy Warhol, and far too many more to name here.

The artwork of Tony Walton, award-winning set and costume designer for theater and films, and former husband of actress Julie Andrews, is being shown in Sag Harbor at the Mark Borghi Gallery. Walton’s work for such plays as Pippin and Guys and Dolls, the films Mary Poppins, All That Jazz and so many more, was on display. Local writers, journalists, photographers, people I hadn’t seen in this long pandemic time, were at the opening. Tony Walton could not be there, but Julie Andrews, who lives out here, was.

I crossed the street afterward to visit the Romany Kramoris Gallery, where the annual “Small Artworks Holiday Invitational” was on display, with some 35 artists’ works on display. The show is on until February 20 and is always a delight.

“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”

— Pablo Picasso

“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.”

— Edward Hopper

On Saturday afternoon, October 23 I greeted people on the sidewalk outside Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor. Due to the pandemic, indoor events were not possible. It was a nice day and good conversations ensued, with friends and former students showing up. As I said in my last newsletter, it has been difficult planning book readings and signings during this Covid time. A few winter events are in the planning stage right now.

A lovely review in The East Hampton Star on November 18 by Jeff Nichols opens with, “Anyone who has rented out a room, in the Hamptons or Toledo, Ohio, for that matter, will identify with much of Three Rooms, Shared Bath.” Later, he writes: “When Diana is arguing/talking/negotiating with her tenants to follow basic rules, the words fly off the page like in a Noel Coward play. And that’s what keeps the pages turning…The other strength is her love of the simple beauty of the landscape, which…is contagious.”

I was a guest of author Linda Frank on “The Writer’s Dream” on LTV, our local television station, on December 8. We were together on Zoom. The show was taped and then released on You Tube on December 17. Go to LTV-You Tube-The Writer’s Dream and watch this half-hour broadcast if you’d like.

“Whatever you write, write because it comes from some very deep place inside you that you really need to express. Just make sure that you don’t stop till you get to the end.”

— Salman Rushdie

Our winter writing workshop will start on Tuesday, January 18 and run through February 22. We’ll meet in the large parish hall at the Catholic Church in Bridgehampton, as we did last year. It’s a huge space, and we have a small, talented, vaccinated group who are mostly writing memoir and personal essays. Karyn Mannix, one of our writers, who is also a well-known artist, is writing an autobiographical novel. She will spend the month of January working on the book in a small cottage she rented in Palm Springs, California.

In November, Tom Hannon released his book, Stocking Stuffers, Magical Christmas Gifts from the Heart, a collection of five stories created just for the holidays. “I put (this) together to bring holiday cheer to adults and kids. It’s been a tough couple of years, and we all need to warm our hearts.” The book is available on Amazon.

Joanne Pateman’s Reflections column of October 18 in The Southampton Press (The Express Group), titled “A New Season Upon Us” is filled with many reminiscences of her school days at Girls High in South Philadelphia, starting in fall, and of current, yearly autumn experiences: “Apple picking at Halsey’s in Water Mill and apple cider donuts at the Milk Pail complete our fall activities, along with pumpkin picking at Hank’s (and) Halloween, with its candy corn, witches, ghosts and goblins.”

The sad news is that this was Joanne’s last column. She died on December 17 after a bout with cancer. She was 74 years old, one of my early writing students, and a friend. In a tribute column another friend wrote: “Most people thought she would beat her cancer, because she attacked it like she did everything in life — with determination, a positive spirit and hard work.” This tribute ended with an Irish blessing: “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

Joanne was a wife and mom (and grand mom), a former model, graphic designer and advertising art director. Like me, she graduated from Stony Brook University Southampton with an MFA in creative writing. Photos of Joanne and all her columns are archived online and I hope you will look for them at The Southampton Press site online.

Another loss, on December 23, was that of Joan Didion, one of my favorite authors and a true inspiration for so many. She lived a long and productive life. May she rest in peace.

Tom Clavin’s latest book, Lightning Down: a World War II Story of Survival was published on November 2. This is the true story of Joe Moser, a 22 years old farm boy, who set off on his 44th combat mission over occupied France. Soon, he would join almost 170 other Allied airmen as prisoners in Buchenwald, one of the most notorious and deadly of Nazi concentration camps. This is a can’t-put-it-down inspiring saga of brave men confronting great evil and great odds against survival. See Tom’s book in bookstores and online, and look for all his other books as well.

Marilyn Levinson, who writes her Haunted Library Mysteries under the nom de plume, Allison Brook, published her fifth novel in this series, Death on the Shelf, on November 9. Clover Ridge librarian Carrie Singleton sleuths a murder at her best friend’s wedding in this latest mystery. At the wedding reception, the sweet occasion turns darkly bitter when surgeon guest, Aiden Harrington, topples into the chocolate fountain–dead. Uh-oh – what next? This series is a pleasure to read and another book will come in 2022.

“I am drawn to any story that makes me want to read from one sentence to the next. I have no other criterion.”

— Jhumpa Lahiri

Happy New Year! Keep reading and writing. Here’s to a healthy and productive year!

Eileen