Friday, October 2, 2015

Book review: The Kingdom of the Kid

Book review: The Kingdom of the Kid: Growing Up In The Long-Lost Hamptons
By Geoff Gehman (b. 1958)
State University of New York Press, Albany, NY 2013
238 pages

I stepped outside my comfort zone to read Geoff Gehman's memoir about some of his childhood years in the "long-lost Hamptons." I'm glad I did.

If you have a particular point of view about memoirs, either for or against, try to forget it and pick up The Kingdom of the Kid, and just settle in for the ride.

This is more than a prosaic romp through childhood memories, it is a paean celebrating a child's-eye-view of life.

Gehman is a writer who likes to "linger over words," that's my kind of writer. His prose, his stories, his memories…sassy, salty and singular.

Gehman is a poet, too. Repeatedly, he offers lush insight into his industrious youth, his friendships with the young and the old, his affinity for the place, the "long-lost Hamptons" where Geoff and his pals spent the good old days.

He describes the scene as he observed mourners in the Wainscott Cemetery:
"…I sat on my bike in the school parking lot, shaded by grand sycamores, and watched visitors treat the cemetery with reverence. They placed flowers by graves, prayed on their knees, cried on their backs. They stared at the sky, held séances in broad daylight, eavesdropped on eternity.

"Those pilgrims taught me the morality of mortality. Without asking anyone I learned to walk around the stones, to respect the dead as if they were alive."

In every chapter he offers another little piece of his heart.

Good reading. Real good.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.

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