PHILISTINES AT THE HEDGEROW by Steven Gaines

PHILISTINES AT THE HEDGEROW

Passion and Property in the Hamptons
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Gaines has written a page-turner, and the Hamptons have a historian and folklorist who fits them like a glove. Gaines turns from his usual ho-hum celebrity bios (Obsession: The Lives and Times of Calvin Klein, 1994, etc.) to the rich and dishy cultural history of the Hamptons from the time when Georgika’s Pond, one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the world, was the fishing ground of a lone Indian named Jeorgkee. He traces unending Hamptons litigation and squabbling from Goody Garlick in 1658 up to Martha Stewart (Goody Garlick was tried for witchcraft, and Martha has an ongoing feud with her neighbor, real-estate mogul Harry Macklowe). In a series of nonfiction novellas, Gaines tells stories of huge egos in small villages: millionaire broker Allan Schneider, who brought big-city real-estate savvy to the Hamptons; Evan Frankel, called the Squire of East Hampton, who thumbed his nose at old money by building a synagogue at the entrance to the village. While others might fight over lovers or money, in the Hamptons it’s property all the way: who owns it, where it’s located, and who gets to control the overpriced and frequently hideous housing built on it. Most interesting, Gaines recounts the history of The Creeks, the largest estate in East Hampton, from its creation by artists Arthur and Adele Herter to its recent reconstruction by paranoid billionaire Ron Perelman. In between, The Creeks belonged to eccentric artist Alfonso Ossorio and his deceptively quiet lover Ted Dragon, who befriended Jackson Pollock and who made The Creeks into a piece of neo-expressionist art. Gaines does a deft job rescuing their story from oblivion—and writes about all the oddities of Hamptons life with contagious zest. With the dropping of names from Wyandanch to Spielberg, Book Hampton should have trouble keeping it in stock.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1998
ISBN: 0-316-30941-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998




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