Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer relates the travails of a group of privileged New England kids as they navigate an expensive, indulgent and raucous summer in Montauk in their late twenties. (References to Gatsby abound.) They commute from Manhattan for summer weekends at a rambling house referred to as the Hive, which is filled with an ever-shifting set of toned young people and high-end brand names.
These career-driven 20-somethings want an adult summer camp, and they need it. Glynn finds himself deeply lonely in the city, weighed down with anxiety that he’ll die alone. Following a series of frightening events, including a nearly fatal car crash and the death of his family’s matriarch, Glynn’s life seems to be spinning slowly out of control. With thoughts of his own mortality haunting him, Glynn begins to wonder why real and enduring connection has been so elusive.
When feelings for a male friend develop into something more, Glynn finds himself bearing the weight of a secret about his sexual identity. John is not the only member of the group figuring things out. A set of beautiful 20-something girls—Ashley, Perrie and Kirsten—are on their own journeys for love and connection. Ashley, memorably dubbed the Mayor of Montauk, spends the summer longing to find a handsome man she once glimpsed at a bar. Perrie finds a new boyfriend every weekend, while Kirsten flits between two inappropriate men. The other boys in the house, half of whom John refers to as “the finance bros” and half of whom are gay, don’t fare much better.
What endures about this portrait is how deeply human it is to be uncertain, to be driving a hundred miles an hour toward nowhere and longing to have a buddy in the car. This group of friends receive each other in all the Montauk messiness, from early morning runs for coffee to long conversations on the roof. They drink together, philosophize together, go to the beach together, admire each other and watch each other make terrible decisions. While reading this book, you are ultimately grateful that they have each other and are reminded of the precariousness of the emotional inner life that undulates just beneath the surface, even for people who look as though they have it all.