Born and raised in Mastic Beach, Matthew McGevna, recalls a winter evening where a Westhampton Beach cop, patrolling the Jessup Lane Bridge, pulled him and a friend over and told them to go back to where he came from.
That incident prompted McGevna to write a semi-fictional short story that appears in a recently-released book, called Long Island Noir.
Long Island Noir, McGevna says, is a collection of 17 stories of stories that are edited by Kaylie Jones, of Sagaponack.
"The collection as a whole exposes the underside of the Gatsby image of Long Island many people have. It's about people who are down-and-out in different ways. Some are down-and-out economically, like my characters, others are down-and-out morally, spiritually, and physically."
McGevna says his story, called "Gateway to the Stars," which appears first in the anthology, aims to expose preconceived notions people have of an area like Mastic Beach/Mastic/Shirley.
"Mastic Beach lacks the sort of economic power that is needed to help itself. When you have no economic power, which is basically equivalent to having no political power, you become voiceless. I'm inspired to write about Mastic Beach, not just because I'm from there, but because I think it's important to give a voice to the voiceless. Because nobody is going to stand up for them," he said.
For using his voice, McGevna has created some controversy — when the book first hit the stands, one reader told him that he "besmirched" Westhampton Beach and their cops, who are only trying to keep the rif-raff out.
"What he seems to gloss over is that my character's brother is going to Dune Road to rescue him from a pedophile. So the riff-raff is already in his community," said McGevna. "But because he's wealthy riff-raff, he's not really riff-raff. So long as the pedophile is not from Mastic Beach, I guess."
McGevna, who is the editor of Sachem Patch and holds a BA in English and MFA in Creative Writing from Southampton College, will be signing copies of the book on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the as part of ' summer author series.
Also at the signing will be Shira Nayman, author of A Mind of Winter.
For more book signing events across the Hamptons this summer, .