Dan’s Hamptons Review Offers Top 50 Essays from Our Literary Contest

Hamptons essays cartoon by Mickey ParaskevasHamptons essays cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas
Cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas

A book of the top 50 rated essays entered in the Dan’s Papers Literary Prize for Nonfiction is now available for sale. Titled Dan’s Hamptons Review, the book contains winners of each of our competitions during the last five years, plus numerous other essays that didn’t win but were the top essays, just behind the winners, rated by our judges during these years.

The Dan’s Papers Literary Prize for Nonfiction has been offered every year since 2012, and entries in the 2017 competition can be made online (entries are accepted only online) right now at DansLitPrize.com. All must be between 600 and 1,500 words, reference eastern Long Island in a meaningful way, and be works of nonfiction—history, biography, description, reminiscence, humor, memoir, account of an incident or news.

Winners are awarded cash prizes and trophies. This year the entry window closes on August 1 and there is a grand awards ceremony at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall in East Hampton on Thursday, August 31. The grand prize winner receives $5,000. Two runners up receive $500, and three other entrants receive “judge’s choice” certificates. There are also prizes for our Emerging Young Writers contest—essayists who are age 25 or under. The winner in this category receives $3,000, runners up receive $500 and again there are three “judge’s choice” award certificates.

The 50 essays in Dan’s Hamptons Review were culled from thousands of essays entered. Among these 50 are those that have collectively won nearly $40,000 since 2012.

Dan's Hamptons Review
Dan’s Hamptons Review

The purpose of this competition is to promote essay writing on the East End. It certainly has been a big success. The idea for it sprang from the fact that for 30 years now, Dan’s Papers has promoted the artists of the Hamptons by featuring their works on the covers of the publication. This book, and this competition, is for the writers.

The gala awards ceremony at the John Drew Theater in East Hampton is a summer favorite. Since its founding, many literary lions have introduced the event by offering keynote speeches. They have included two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Caro, National Book Award winner E.L. Doctorow, National Book Award winner Tom Wolfe, Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Bernstein, Academy Award winner Jules Feiffer and Jefferson Lecturer Walter Isaacson. Readers of the winning entries have been Emmy winner Pia Lindstrom, Academy Award winner Mercedes Ruehl and Emmy winner and TV personality Dick Cavett.

The essays in this book are presented alphabetically by author. Joseph Antretter kicks it off with “Hampton Apocalypse Redux,” an account of an invasion by the summer people. “They seemed determined to occupy the town, not by winning hearts and minds, but by the mere shock and awe of the majesty of their own presence,” he writes. He retreats to consider counter-moves.

Ruth Bonapace offers the next essay “The Day of the Mollusk.” It won second prize in 2015. This 1,200-word essay is entirely about the author’s experience eating her first raw clam. “Men in aprons were taking their posts, sharp knives prying open grey hard shells, placing each pale glistening morsel on mounds of ice.”

The next essay is Bruce Buschel’s “Breadzilla Versus a Knot of Snakes.” He writes “Margherita juts her head out the half opened window and squints into the falling snow. The wind pins back her ears and whiskers.”

Is there a new John Steinbeck here? Perhaps a Truman Capote, Kurt Vonnegut, Edward Albee, Joe Heller, Irwin Shaw or James Jones? They all lived here.

Many businesses support this literary competition with sponsorships. Our major sponsor is Barnes & Noble. Others over the years have included Audi of Southampton, BMW of Southampton, Bridgehampton National Bank, Ben Krupinski Builders, Bobby Van’s, Hampton Jitney, Hamptons H20, Hamptons International Film Festival, Mini of Southampton, Montauk Rumrunners, Nest Seekers International, Ovation Travel, Perlman Music Program, Pierre’s of Bridgehampton, Porsche of Southampton, Serafina, Sotto Sopra, Southampton Inn and Two Trees Management. Individual support has come from Alec Baldwin, Jerry and Adrian Cohen, Mayor Mark Epley, Marc Goldman, Dede Gotthelf, Joan and George Hornig, Carole Konner, Jean Shafiroff and David and Jane Walentas.

Copies of Dan’s Hamptons Review can be purchased for $25 by emailing [email protected].

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