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Eileen Obser | Newsletter

Spring 2019

An early sign of spring in the Hamptons is the Annual Guild Hall Artist Member Exhibition that opened this year on March 9. Now in its 81st year, this show features over 400 works in every medium from Guild Hall’s artist members. I love attending and meeting up with the local artists and writers who are part of our community. Among the many notable artists of historical interest who have been exhibited at Guild Hall have been Roy Lichtenstein, Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollack, Franz Kline, Jane Wilson, Fairfield Porter and Thomas Moran. More recent artists have included Larry Rivers, Andy Warhol, Elaine de Kooning, Julian Schnabel, Esteban Vicente, Audrey Flack and Paul Davis.

Among the less “arty” signs of spring, for me, are watching garden centers starting up for the season; landscapers, carpenters, and other contractors are back on the job; restaurants reopening, (i.e., The Clam Bar in Napeague, Bostwick’s in Amagansett, The Gig Shack in Montauk), and shops taking down their winter shutters and “see you in April” signs. What I love most, however, are the sights and sounds of nature: osprey back in their nests, the hundreds of peepers calling out from every pond, and green sprouts popping up in the gardens. Last week the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Montauk took place, the yearly event that sets off the season out here big time.

Larry Penny, who writes the Nature Notes column each week for The East Hampton Star, is on the road, looking for signs of early spring. He writes about skunk cabbage patches at Big Reed Pond in Montauk, and at other ponds all over the South Fork, including Bridgehampton where “I went to observe an overfilled wetland pond and was greeted by a rite-of-spring chorusing of 25 or red-winged blackbirds ringing from the tops of the trees, while a duck quacked on and off and a robin looked for food on a lawn edging the pond. Once spring begins in earnest, there is no stopping it.” Many years ago, I used to take hikes through the woods out here with Larry and other nature lovers. His knowledge and caring for the beauty of the earth and all its wonders haven’t diminished one bit.

“Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment.”

Ellis Peters

I was delighted to see the Broadway musical, The Band’s Visit, in January. Based on the 2007 Israeli film and the winner of ten Tony Awards in 2018, it had long been on my list. The show is closing on April 7. It was a great show and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.

My memoir, Only You, will be reissued, as a second edition, in April by Sunbury Press. Look for the book on Sunbury’s website or on Amazon. I’ll update my own website when the book is released, and I have some promotional ideas and events invitations lined up.

As I finish revisions on a novel, and wind up the memoir of my life in the 1970s I am also going through files, large drawers and cartons of them, to discard whatever possible. It’s amazing how much of our manuscript drafts, revisions, edited (by others) copies, clippings, drawings and photographs, marketing and publicity ideas, abandoned writing projects, correspondence going back decades, can overtake the office, and other rooms. I know I’m not alone with this problem. How do we part with our precious, oversized darlings? What if we should ever need to refer to them in the future?

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even if it breaks your egocentric little          scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings!”

Stephen King

We’ll be back at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton for a spring memoir writing workshop on Tuesday, April 23. The classes will run for six weeks, ending on May 28, from 1:30–3:30 p.m. The fee is $75; call the library to sign up at 631-537-0015.

Eve Karlin, of East Hampton, is on staff at Bookhampton and planning programs for the store. She’s started a book club that meets once a month at the Maidstone Inn in East Hampton. This Tuesday, April 2, I will attend, to meet up with Eve and the book club members, to discuss memoir, and Inheritance, the latest memoir by Dani Shapiro – an excellent book that I highly recommend. Eve is the author of City of Liars and Thieves, a historical novel about Manhattan’s first great murder trial. Published by Alibi, an eBook division of Random House, it is now being reissued as a paperback in May. Contact Eve for more information about the new book club at ekarlin@bookhampton.com.

Regarding Dani Shapiro’s current and past memoirs, this quote comes to mind:

“Writing a memoir is an act of love, or should be, not an act of revenge or self-indulgence or self-loathing or justification. It’s an act of love because it requires empathy and compassion. An act of love because it strives to tell the truth in all its complexity.”

Lee Martin

In his Good Old Days column in Great South Bay Magazine, Jerry Giammatteo, of Sayville, published an essay called “When Snow was Fun” in February, about his younger days when he enjoyed the sleigh riding and snowball fights, but how the thrill is now gone, as he gets older. In March, his essay was “Not So Fast” about meeting friends for dinner during Lent and agonizing whether to have meat on Friday. In April, his column will be about two Opening Days in baseball that have stayed in his memory.

The East Hampton Press Reflections columnist, Joanne Pateman, of Southampton, wrote about being home alone for the holidays with her husband this year, enjoying parties at the Parrish Art Museum, another with the Press staff, a concert, film, and dinner parties, which she details. Other columns included “Mud and Wine” (taking a mud bath in California wine country in 2018), and in February, “Couples in Love” about food people who “are flourishing at Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue and at Mecox Bay Dairy in Bridgehampton.” “Docent Dream Date” is about her tour of the Parrish, where she is indeed a docent, with Helen Harrison, the director of the Pollock-Krasner House in Springs, and seeing the art though Helen’s eyes.

Carol Dray, of Bridgehampton, wrote “Mother Repurposed” in the March 7 Guestwords column of The East Hampton Star. Long past the child-rearing days, her husband and she were recently called on to watch their baby grandchild for several days. Their fears of recalling and using Parenting 101 skills to do the task resulted in this essay.

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”

Maya Angelou

Emily Smith Gilbert, of Amagansett, my one-time student, and a fellow Stony Brook Southampton MFA alumna, is now Editor-in-Chief of The Southampton Review, the university’s literary magazine. Go to www.thesouthamptonreview.com to check out some of the current and past work published – and perhaps submit some of your own.

Tom Clavin, of Sag Harbor, has been touring the country with his latest book, Wild Bill, released in February by St. Martin’s Press, about (who else?) Wild Bill Hickok (“The true story of the American frontier’s first gunfighter”). There was a great review in The New York Times Book Review.

Books I’ve read recently or am reading now: Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, Draft No 4 – on the Writing Process by John McPhee, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, So Far, So Good: Final Poems by Ursula K. Le Guin, and I am perusing the 2019 Pushcart Prize XLIII Best of the Small Presses, edited, as in every year past, by Bill Henderson, of Springs.

Enjoy the beauties of the season, and keep reading and writing. Please stay in touch.

Eileen