Book Review: ‘A Hole in the Ocean—A Hamptons’ Apprenticeship’ Sandy McIntosh

Before it was Stony Brook Southampton it was Southampton College. And as a young writer attending the school in 1970, Sandy McIntosh, now the author of over a dozen books on poetry, business and cooking, had the great opportunity to learn from an exceptional group of artists living in the area. His new book A Hole in the Ocean—A Hamptons’ Apprenticeship (Marsh Hawk Press) is full of his amusing and engaging recollections of the great—and near-great—artists and poets who washed ashore here.

The book is full of episodes illustrating—in illuminated prose—the informality and wildness of these unique relationships. There was the time he was driving on Springs Fireplace Road in East Hampton and almost hit Willem de Kooning, who was haphazardly riding his bicycle and ended up off the road under some trees. McIntosh packed de Kooning’s bicycle in his backseat and drove the artist to his farmhouse opposite Green River Cemetery in Springs. He met the poet H.R. Hays, who was to be his freshman advisor, in the school parking lot; turned down a cocktail from Truman Capote at Bobby Van’s in Bridgehampton; was visited at home (at one point he lived across the street from painter John MacWhinnie on Moses Lane in Southampton) by the abstract painter Ilya Bolotowsky, who was there to convince him not to publish a story about a film they’d just finished making which Norman Mailer was tangentially connected to.

A Hole in the Ocean is a beautiful written recollection of a simpler time on the East End when main streets were quiet even during the summer and one could hear “the crashing of the ocean waves a half-mile away.” e.e. cummings said “A hole in the ocean will never be missed.” Neither should this book.

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