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Jun 16, 2016 11:40 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Montauk Residents Share Stories Of Their Beloved Hamlet In New Anthology

Writer Willa Johann, reading from her essay in
Jun 20, 2016 9:57 AM

Members of the Montauk community, facing the intrusion of rising tides and summer visitors, came together to preserve their memories of old Montauk in an anthology that will be on shelves later this month.

“On Montauk: A Literary Celebration,” edited by novelist Céline Keating and writer Ed Johann, will include a collection of more than 50 short stories, poems and essays from 48 diverse authors. The book’s launch will take place later this month, followed by a series of reading events at which authors will share their works and memories of their beloved hamlet with the public.

“We wanted to capture the essence of the real Montauk, in our view,” Ms. Keating said after discussing the rapidly changing landscape of the town. However, she later pointed out that what was most important was the authors’ literary works.

“[The book] wasn’t much about the town of Montauk,” she said. “It was inspired by Montauk and how the town inspires writing. Together it’s a good balance.”

Both editors contributed one short story to the book as well, since they have both lived in Montauk for a considerable number of years. Ms. Keating’s story, titled “Home,” which won the 2014 Hackney Award in Short Fiction, is an excerpt from her upcoming novel. Mr. Johann’s heartfelt story, “In the Saddle,” focuses on his family and horseback riding.

Ms. Keating added that the book was fully funded through two online crowdfunding campaigns with 85 financial backers. They began the campaign on Pubslush, a crowdfunding website for literary projects, but that site soon shut down and the duo decided to raise the remaining funds with Kickstarter.

The book’s invite-only launch party was held at Woodbine Gallery in Montauk on Saturday, June 18, to celebrate the donors, authors and esteemed guests who all supported the cause. Each contributor received free copies of the book as the editors thanked them for their support.

This summer Ms. Keating will host a series of reading events to allow enthusiastic authors to share their works aloud in intimate settings such as bookstores and libraries.

There will be five readings on the East End and each one will be open to the public. She added that in order to have more authors participate in the readings, she thought that a series of events would be more practical than one larger event.

The first reading will take place in the A Tale of Two Sisters bookstore in Montauk on Sunday, June 26, at 2 p.m. It will feature seven authors and the anthology will be available for sale.

“I’m thrilled with it,” Ms. Keating said. “I really hope it represents what the local people see as Montauk.”

Other readings will be held in Sag Harbor on Friday, July 8, at 6 p.m. at Canio’s Books; in East Hampton on Monday, July 11, at 5:30 p.m. at the East Hampton Library, in Montauk on Wednesday, August 24, at the Montauk Library with a time yet to be determined; and in Riverhead on Sunday, August 28, at 2 p.m. at the Blue Duck Café. Early last year, the editors called for submissions of works that reflected the traditional setting, spirit and community of Montauk. In a few months, they gathered more than 100 works from people who shared fond memories of the town.

Although many works were submitted by writers they don’t know personally, Ms. Keating said that she and Mr. Johann spent much time soliciting pieces from individuals or writing groups they were familiar with. Mr. Johann was especially acquainted with local writers as he leads the Montauk Writers Group.

They wanted to choose pieces that gave a full picture of the traditional Montauk, while also prioritizing pieces based on literary quality.

“The first consideration was the writing,” Ms. Keating explained. “Other times, there was something that was just so touching. Those stories weren’t really from a writer but from the old-timers; they were more reminiscent.”

As a way of paying it forward, all proceeds from the book will be donated to the community. Ms. Keating said that the profits will be split between two local organizations, the Concerned Citizens of Montauk and the Third House Nature Center Inc.

“On Montauk: A Literary Celebration” is already available for purchase on the publisher’s website, hepdigital.com. After the publication date on July 7, it will be available in any bookstore and online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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