Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town

Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town

by Kelly McMasters

Paperback(Second Edition)

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Overview

Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town by Kelly McMasters

Shirley seemed to be doomed from the beginning. Founded by a Vaudevillian huckster who touted it as a seaside haven despite the sand bar that blocks access to the shore, the town has been plagued by one disaster after another—a UFO, a childhood cancer cluster, and a mysterious federal nuclear laboratory in nearby Brookhaven that leaked toxic nuclear and chemical waste into the aquifer from which the residents unknowingly drew their well water.

This is Kelly McMasters' account of growing up in a cursed town and loving it anyway, and of a girl's awakening to tragedy and to a sense of mission. Told in a deliciously engaging voice, Welcome to Shirley balances the bitter with the sweet, the funny with the infuriating, in an unforgettable story of working class Long Island.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610397063
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 12/22/2015
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Kelly McMasters' essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, Newsday, Elle Décor, Metropolis, and Time Out New York, among others. She teaches writing at Columbia University and mediabistro.com and is the co-director of the KGB Nonfiction Reading Series in the East Village. She lives in Manhattan and northeast Pennsylvania with her husband, the painter Mark Milroy.

What People are Saying About This

Abigail Thomas

With echoes of such great writers as Thornton Wilder and Edgar Lee Masters and Upton Sinclair, McMasters has written an eloquent love song to her home-town, and a scalding indictment of the powerful facility that brought fear and death to her neighbors. This is a great book about small town America. It should be required reading for us all. (Abigail Thomas, author of Safekeeping and A Three Dog Life)

Suzannah Lessard

This intimate portrait of hardscrabble Shirley, Long Island and the ways in which activities at nearby Brookhaven Lab affected its citizens shows through individual lives-and deaths-how environmental injustice works. Native Kelly McMasters combines a warm personal perspective with vigorous reportorial objectivity to tell this gripping story of the underside of the Promised Land. (Suzannah Lessard, author of Mapping the World)

Lydia Millet

The heartbreak of this story is in the small details, which leave a lingering sense of lives that might be forgotten if they were not recalled here. Both personal and political, and steadily compelling, Welcome to Shirley is a thoughtful, delicate elegy to an ideal. (Lydia Millet, author of Oh Pure and Radiant Heart)

From the Publisher

"Powerful...debut explores the author's happy childhood next to a controversial nuclear laboratory that leaked toxic waste into a Long Island aquifer. McMasters follows up this moving material with pages that delve into case-study numbers and scientific quotes ... Sincere and expertly researched."Kirkus Reviews

"All places are mute till someone speaks for them—this book bears marvelous, scalding witness to the kind of horror that's been repeated in so many spots that we've almost gone numb. But no one will be numb after reading this account."—Bill McKibben

"Welcome to Shirley is an uplifting and disturbing tour of deep nostalgia for home and an entrenched institution that earns its designation as a Superfund site. McMasters slips along the fine edge between the personal and the journalistic; between profound nostalgia—she loves this place, and longs for it—and an adult reckoning with the realities of her gritty town. McMasters' voice is devastating in its clarity and urgency and great tenderness."—Meredith Hall, author, Without a Map

Meredith Hall

Welcome to Shirley is an uplifting and disturbing tour of deep nostalgia for home and an entrenched institution that earns its designation as a Superfund site. McMasters slips along the fine edge between the personal and the journalistic; between profound nostalgia-she loves this place, and longs for it-and an adult reckoning with the realities of her gritty town. McMasters' voice is devastating in its clarity and urgency and great tenderness. (Meredith Hall, author, Without a Map)

Suzanne Antonetta

Kelly McMasters delivers this all-American atomic town to us with a rare precision and beautiful nostalgia in the true Greek sense, a sickness for home. McMasters' is an American life as ordinary-and wholly remarkable-as our damaged industrial centuries: Norman Rockwell with his brush dipped in isotopes. (Suzanne Antonetta, author of Body Toxic)

Bill McKibben

All places are mute till someone speaks for them--this book bears marvelous, scalding witness to the kind of horror that's been repeated in so many spots that we've almost gone numb. But no one will be numb after reading this account.

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Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That's not even me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sat on her couch with a lit cigarette in her mouth and turned on some punk music, and went through the station
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kgranelli More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down!! The book starts out as a poignant story of a typical Long Island childhood (one that touched my heart and filled me with memories of my own childhood on Long Island), that, by chapter 3, runs parallel to the story of the Brookhaven National Laboratory and its negative effects to our environment. The story is both heartwarming and chilling and McMaster's writing style is captivating!!! I have referred this book to several people already who also felt as I did about it! What a story!!! It makes one feel the need to get involved in environmental advocacy.