Heroes of the big, little world

(This is adapted from my commencement address to The Ross School in East Hampton, where I grew up, earlier this month.) When I was growing up, great writers abounded in the community, and I wanted to be one. It was more the idea of the writers and their lives that appealed to me than their actual work, to be honest. The prominent writers here when I was a kid were very macho, focused on war stories and gangsters, and I was more inclined toward Virginia Woolf and Henry James. I would take long, long walks on the beach, in every season, in the rain and snow, and I would let my mind unfurl long narratives of observation and feeling. I was so sad, I was so happy, I longed for so much. I didn’t e

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