Geoff Gehman writes two interviews per month for the Mauch Chunk Opera House here in Jim Thorpe. They probe the unusual, the seldom-told, the insightful aspects of a performing artist’s career, and can be found by visiting the Opera House website, www.mcohjt.com
Geoff Gehman’s The Kingdom of the Kid: Growing Up in the Long-Lost Hamptons (SUNY Press) is a funny, fond, frank memoir about a special place at a special time teaching a kid how to be special.
Over six years Gehman was changed, forever and for good, by a host of remarkable characters. Baseball hero Carl Yastrzemski. Literary hall of famer Truman Capote. Race-car champion Mark Donohue, who conquered the wicked track where Mario Andretti befriended Paul Newman. A classic-car museum. A penny-candy shop. A newspaper. A cemetery. A dead general store.
Kingdom is three houses under one roof. A vivid biography of Long Island’s South Fork in the late ’60s to early ’70s, the last time the Hamptons were a middle-class paradise. A poetic pilgrimage to understand a schmoozing, boozing social bulldozer of a father, who ended his son’s reign on the East End by selling the family home without his wife’s permission. An unusual, exceptional Boomer coming-of-age story about the beach, drive-in movies, rock ’n’ roll, first friendships, fast cars, faster women, alcoholism, divorce, suicide and the redemption of building a bridge back to your lost island.
This is a tale for anyone who has lived or has wondered about living in the Hamptons, anyone who rode shotgun on the tailgate of a Ford LTD station wagon, anyone hungry for a juicy slice of Don McLean’s “American Pie.”
Gehman is a former arts writer for The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. and the author of Down But Not Quite Out in Hollow-weird (Scarecrow Press), an epistolary film biography of Eric Knight, screenwriter for Frank Capra and author of the novel Lassie Come-Home.