Montauk Bookshop owner Perry Haberman could not have been more pleased with the launch of Layla, the first novel by Montauk and Manhattan resident Celine Keating.
“This was the most successful event I’ve hosted since I opened,” said Haberman. The event, which took place this past Saturday, June 4, drew a crowd of close to 70. “I sold out of the book,” Haberman added. “I’ve already ordered more.”
Layla, included in a roundup of Best New Books by the Huffington Post, tells the story of a young woman’s political awakening during a cross-country journey in which she discovers secrets from her activist parents’ lives that are rooted in the 1960s. “I was really impressed and drawn in by the writer’s voice in the novel,” Haberman said in his introductory remarks.
Members of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, a resident-formed organization dedicated to preserving the environment and ecology of the historic town (Keating serves as vice president and editor of the organization’s newsletter), contributed music to the event. Former President Bill Akin and and current president Bob Stern played songs of the period, while Stern contributed his own rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Layla,” written for violin.
Keating praised Haberman and his promotion of the event, and expressed excitement about her book’s initial popularity. “Perry sold 40 copies in just an hour,” she said.
“I think it will make a great summer read. I would be so excited to walk down the Montauk beach and see someone sitting with Layla and its sand-dune cover. I really hope both young and older readers will find themselves in the book, since the story explores the tensions between generational values.”
Many attendees were thrilled as well. Montauk resident Marlene Coco said that she was “really enjoying every page” after purchasing her copy, while East Hampton resident Pamela Bicket called the selection read aloud by Keating “riveting.”
Ten Montauk and East Hampton residents who had just returned from an EHTPS hike in Italy along the Amalfi coast attended the Montauk Bookshop reading by Ms. Keating and said they especially appreciated the Lemoncello that was served. They also said they eagerly looked forward to reading the copies of Layla that they had just purchased.
Keating has been a part-time resident of Montauk since 1988. Her other published works include short fiction, music journalism and CCOM’s newsletter.