Tuesday, May 20, 2008

To live and die in Shirley, Long Island

I found myself in Politics and Prose bookstore last night here in Washington listening to Kelly McMaster talk about her book WELCOME TO SHIRLEY. As the New York City liberals start their annual migration east to the Hamptons this summer. Many will drive by the middle class town of Shirley. Kelly McMaster has penned a wonderful bitter sweet memior of growing up in this solidly middle class town before heading off to Vassar and becoming a writer. I grew up and still live about ten miles from Shirley and the about seven miles from the Brookhaven Labs which also plays an important part of McMaster's book. I can relate to the hard working middle class neighborhood and community she writes about. It is a segment of American society not often looked at by writers. Shirley is a town where bad things happen to good people and Brookhaven Labs has a history of good people doing bad things. McMaster captures the crossroads where these two forces meet. The elite Hampton's crowd will bypass places like Shirley and spend more of their lives stuck in traffic to reach their status Meccas of East and Southampton etc.... While in middle class towns like Shirley hardworking people go on with their lives and enjoy a beach just as any lovely as any in the Hamptons. McMaster captures their lives and deaths very poignantly in her book.

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