Here’s a Poets & Writers cover photo of Marilyn Monroe that was taken in 1955 when she was living here in the Hamptons. I keep it in my dining room, sometimes telling people that it was me when I was younger. A few actually believe me. I never could get through James Joyce’s Ulysses but, from a Time Magazine article in June 2014, Richard Conway writes: “One of the 20th century’s greatest novels, Ulysses is known for its revolutionary stream-of-consciousness narrative; countless readers and critics have praised it as a work of genius, while others damn it as an impenetrable, albeit ambitious, Modernist tome. But here’s something you may not know: Marilyn Monroe was a huge fan of Joyce.”

He continues: ‘Many who see the Ulysses picture seem to ask – was she  actually  reading it? The answer is likely straightforward: of course she was.’ ” Monroe, who was married to playwright Arthur Miller, told photographer Eve Arnold that she liked to dip into it, rather than read it chapter by chapter. She had a vast library, which included works by George Bernard Shaw, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, D. H. Lawrence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck, as well as Joyce.

You can Google “Marilyn Monroe – the books she read” to see this iconic photo, other photos, and lists of books she had in her library.

“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”

Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle

“The summer passed quietly. I busied myself as best I could, reading a good deal.”

Michael Cox, The Meaning of Night

On May 8 my daughter Suzanne was brought to the hospital emergency room. On May 11, she died of heart failure. She had a heart condition for a good part of her life, but this was unexpected. Since her death, at age 52, our lives have been consumed with her funeral, her home and pets, legal affairs, and so on. Almost eight weeks later, we still haven’t processed this incredible loss. Suzanne’s obituary can been seen online at: www.easthamptonstar.com/Obituaries/2017518.

The Hampton Library memoir writing workshop will resume on Tuesday, July 11, from 5-7 p.m. We will meet for six weeks, and end on August 15. Call the library in Bridgehampton to register at 631-537-0015. The fee is $75 and is open to all writers. Our May 16 library presentation: “Hampton Library Writers Read” was cancelled due to my daughter’s death. We will be rescheduling this event for the fall or next spring.

Our summer memoir writing workshop at the Connetquot Library in Bohemia will begin on Thursday, July 20, 1:30 – 3:30, and run for four weeks, until August 10. The workshop is free and is open to area residents only. Please call 631-567-5079 to register.

“Don’t be a writer; be writing.”

William Faulkner

Mary Vettel, of Hampton Bays, published a short story, “Lucky China Buffet”, in The East Hampton Star on April 13. Very clever plotting. Other Star contributors this spring included Diane Morelli, also of Hampton Bays, with her Guestwords column on May 11, “Get a Real Job” which relates how she “kicked off a series of feminist battles” within and outside her family circle. Also, Phyllis Italiano, of East Hampton, published a memoir piece, “The Hamper”, on June 15, a charming Father’s Day story about growing up in the Bronx and with her family. Her dad is a true hero in this tale and someone we can all admire. Another memoir piece, by Diane Hallett, of East Hampton, appeared the following week, Jun 22, called “Pa”. This is about her grandfather, and here is a quote:

“Spiritually, Pa lives with me always; he has transcended death in this way, and when I picture him, and when he helps me, he is in color, he is moving, and I hear his voice. He will not die until I do and perhaps when you’ve read this story, he will, in some small way, continue to live on with you.”

I encourage you to Google East Hampton Star, type in these authors’ names, and read their work.

Joanne Pateman, of Southampton, continues her bi-weekly columns in The Southampton-East Hampton Press. She’s written about her trip to France, and a feature about William Merritt Chase in Venice. On May 5, “Easter In Palm Beach with Trump” – about the crowded air traffic and security issues when she visited her son; “The Mystery of the Watermill Center” June 20, about a local arts institution. This week, she interviewed our former congressman, Tim Bishop: “Is There Life after Congress?” In April Joanne won second place for her columns in The Press awarded by the New York Press Association. Among the judges’ comments: “Her columns were filled with the find of nuances you’d remember days and weeks after reading them. Very solid, enjoyable entries.” Joanne is also a contributor to Edible magazine, most recently writing about baby goat season at the Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic, on the North Fork.

Joe Bonelli, of Oakdale, published “Those Oldies but Goodies – Dance, Dance, Dance” in the June issue of Great South Bay magazine. A retired music teacher and longtime musician, Joe loves writing about his favorite subject and we love what he has to say. In the same issue, Jerry Giammatteo, of Sayville, wrote, “Work – That Necessary Four-Letter Word.” Earlier, in April, his essay, “From the Bronx to Flushing to the ‘Burbs’ appeared.

In April, John Daniels “Joy of Story” featured a 99-worder by James Gallagher, of Ronkonkoma, and Diane Morelli, Jerry Giammatteo, and Chris Viscuso appeared in the May issue. John has retired the blog for now, but I hope he brings it back at some time.

If I’ve missed any recently published student writers, please let me know.

“I get a sentence, an idea, an image, and I start. I don’t know anything beyond it. I follow it.”

David Rabe

“The joy of writing is only surpassed by the joy of acceptance of what you wrote.”

Robert M. Lucas

I’ve just finished reading A Low Country Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life by Pat Conroy, published after his death in 2016. And before that, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro, which she signed for me at the Woodstock Bookfest in April. Both great reads. Joan Didion’s South and West: from a Notebook was also a pleasure. I’m a big fan of all three of these writers. On the reading table: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, When the Women Come Out to Dance, stories by Elmore Leonard, and Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The last two are rereads. And I’ll probably be rereading the first three listed here.

“…the reader who plucks a book from her shelf only once is as deprived as the listener who, after attending a single performance of a Beethoven symphony, never hears it again.”

Anne Fadiman

My birthday is on July 17. Other July writers include Herman Hesse, Franz Kafka, E.B. White, Henry David Thoreau, Hunter S. Thompson, and Ernest Hemingway. Notice: all men. A Google search revealed zero famous female authors. Hmm….

I wish all of you a happy summer. Keep in touch re my e-mail: eobser@yahoo.com.

Eileen