A warm crowd turned out on Friday evening to welcome Robert Goolrick to BookHampton. Mr. Goolrick earned a loyal fan base with his two previous books, the wonderful novel A Reliable Wife and the heartbreaking memoir The End of the World as We Know It. He returns to the Shenandoah valley of his childhood in his latest novel, Heading Out to Wonderful (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill).
Goolrick spoke of the ways his Southern upbringing influenced his craft, describing it as a culture rich in storytelling and gossip. Memories of real people populate his pages, people with hidden pains and unknown pasts.
Many years work in copywriting also influence Goolrick's writing, teaching him to compress many pages of description into as short a sentence as possible.
Eric Alterman spoke on Saturday night to a large crowd at BookHampton in East Hampton, who gathered to hear him discuss his latest book, The Cause (Viking), a history of post-war American liberalism.
Alterman spoke of varying definitions of liberalism, from the classical liberalism that embraces Milton Friedman and Margaret Thatcher to the New Deal liberalism that reigned in America from the days of FDR to the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson. As Alterman describes it, however, the liberal consensus began to fall apart with the rise of civil rights movement and the subsequent departure of the South from the Democratic voting base. Alterman argues that modern liberals should embrace the label instead of shying away with euphemisms such as "pragmatic progressive," which have become standard for left-of-center politicians.
A lively debate broke out after the talk as audience members offered their own opinions of contemporary politics.