Summer 2018

This newsletter is going out a few days late. I just returned from a two-week journey, a Road Scholar tour of the Pacific Northwest. We visited Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria, and San Juan Island in Washington state. We did plenty of moving around, took lots of buses, trains and ferries to and from our destinations, dragging our luggage up and down from our rooms and to vehicles. Very tiring at times, but we saw so much, and met such wonderful co-travelers, that it was totally worthwhile. The other half of “we” was Marilyn Levinson, my good mystery writer friend (Murder a la Christie and many other books); see her website, Her latest book will be coming out in September, under her nom de plume, Allison Brooke, called Read and Gone.

In Portland, we spent some time in Powell’s City of Books, the largest used and new bookstore in the world, occupying an entire city block and housing over one million books. I would have liked to spend many hours, even days, exploring this wonderland. While in Victoria I visited Munro Books, another noted, lovely bookstore.

“Here in the corner attic of America, two hours’ drive from a rain forest, a desert, a foreign country, an empty island, a hidden fjord, a raging river, a glacier, and a volcano is a place where the inhabitants sense they can do no better, nor do they want to.”

I did no writing, nor did I keep lists on this vacation. There was so much to see and to do, and schedules to follow, which left barely any time to get into think-and-write mode. I also did very little reading, which is unusual for me.

“To get away from one’s working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one’s self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change.”

Charles Horton Cooley

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

St. Augustine

July will be a busy month for me, with my son, Jeffrey, coming from California to visit next week. There will be two family gatherings here on Long Island, so all my relatives will be together, celebrating birthdays (including mine), a high school graduation, etc. There are also many local events and benefits on the calendar that I hope to attend.

The Hamptons are crowded to the max with tourists, “summer people” as we call them. The challenge is to avoid the villages and the main roads as much as possible, along with the shops and supermarkets. For writers and artists, this means: stay home; do your work: read, write, research. This is the best time for you to hibernate and get those jobs done.

On Tuesday, July 10, our summer memoir writing workshop begins at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton, from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Ten writers are welcome to join, and the list is filling up. The six-week series ends on August 14. Call the library at 631-537-0015 to register.

“Don’t just plan to write – write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.”

P. D. James

I have followed Elaine Marinoff Good’s memoir-in-progress for the past six or more years, chapter by chapter, draft by draft. Treasures: the Memoir of an Artist is the title of her book. Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, Elaine passed away in May, at 82 years of age, just as the book was ready for publication. She lived in Bridgehampton and Manhattan and took my writing classes early on. I became her editor, and we developed a close bond. I’ll miss her friendship, her intelligence and wit, and her talents as a writer and artist. She wanted so much to see her book published, and I will let you know when that happens. Elaine had asked me, a year or so before she passed, if I would please take her cat if and when she died. I said yes. And so, I now have adopted her beautiful 10-year old female cat named Krissy. It took a while for her to adjust, but now Krissy follows me everywhere, hanging out in my office (as my late, beloved cat, Boris, used to do) when I’m here at the desk. See Elaine’s obituary and the story of her career as an artist at:

Daniel Simone, of Amagansett, has published a new book, The Pierre Hotel Affair: How Eight Gentleman Thieves Orchestrated the Largest Jewel Heist in History. Written with Nick “the Cat” Sacco, “the sole surviving perpetrator”, this nonfiction work that “reads like fiction”, according to reviews I’ve read, was released in May. On June 1 Daniel did a reading at Bookhampton. See Wikipedia for details about Daniel and his books.

Jerry Giammatteo, of Sayville, published an article, “Of Luncheonettes and Candy Stores” in the Good Old Days column in the May issue of Great South Bay Magazine.

In the April 19 issue of The East Hampton Star, Jerry published a letter describing his trip to Washington, D.C. with a friend to attend the March for our Lives. “Though uncertain about what to expect, it was one of the best things I have ever done,” he writes.

The May issue of the Independent newspaper, here on the East End, featured an article on Phyllis Italiano, of Springs. Originally from the Bronx, Phyllis married and settled in Bayport. Meanwhile, her sister, Anna, known to the world as Anne Bancroft, had won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Helen Keller’s teacher in the film, The Miracle Worker. Five years older than Phyllis, the two sisters shared a special bond. “She was my sister, but she was like my mother and my benefactor.” And more: At a young 82, Phyllis is a celebrity in her own right, hosting and producing her own talk show on LTV called “The Democratic View.” She’s also working on writing her memoir.

Joanne Pateman continues her Reflections columns in The East Hampton and Southampton Press. She recently wrote about Almond Zigmund, who created Artists and Writers Night at Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton. “A sellout crowd of 70 people – architects, writers, artists and their friends – eat and drink together” and Almond “has recreated the classic French salon with good food, fine wine and stimulating intellectual exchange.” Follow Joanne’s columns in the paper or online.

When I left my teaching post at the Connetquot Library in Bohemia last summer, I recommended that they hire Jill Evans to take my place. Jill was my writing student at Suffolk County Community College and, after I left that job two years ago, she took over my class. Jill told me recently that she will be teaching a four-week course at Connetquot Library beginning in October. Hurray! I’m very happy for the memoir writers in the groups I taught there for many years. She will be an excellent workshop leader.

I’m catching up on two weeks of newspapers and magazines, but also have The Journals of May Sarton on my table, and I Know Some Things: Stories about Childhood by Contemporary Writers, an anthology edited by Lorrie Moore, among other books.

An old quote some of you may remember:

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

Erma Bombeck

A happy Fourth of July to all of you. Have a wonderful summer, and keep in touch.