Bits: Rachel Lyon at ‘Writers Speak,’ Bill Bleyer Dives Deep, Social Realism at JJML

Rachel Lyon. Christopher Stella photo

Novelist Rachel Lyon Up Next in ‘Writers Speak’

With her debut novel “Self-Portrait with Boy,” Rachel Lyon has already turned heads at the Center for Fiction.

Long listed for the First Novel Prize, the author is just getting started — and, on March 6, will participate in the “Writers Speak Wednesdays” series of free author talks and readings at Stony Brook Southampton.

“Lyrically written, emotionally complicated, and surprising in many ways, it is hard to put down,” Diana Wagman said of “Self-Portrait with Boy” in the Los Angeles Review of Books. “It explores what constitutes success and fame and art. A single chance occurrence creates something out of nothing, and someone out of no one — but at an enormous expense. Rachel Lyon has given us much to think about.”

The “Writers Speak” series will continue with MFA faculty members Cornelius Eady, Amy Hempel, Susan Scarf Merrell, Paul Harding and Roger Rosenblatt in the panel discussion “The Art and Craft of the Redraft,” moderated by Associate Provost Robert Reeves, on March 13; poet Gary J. Whitehead on March 27; Amy Hempel and Julia Slavin on April 3; poet Sharon Dolin and writer Chloe Caldwell on April 24; and a showcase reading by MFA students on May 1.

The readings begin at 7 p.m. in Duke Lecture Hall at the Southampton campus, located at 39 Tuckahoe Road, each preceded by a reception at 6:30 p.m. and immediately followed by a Q&A and book signing. Admission is free. For more information, call (631) 632-5030 or visit

Bill Bleyer Dives Deep into Long Island Naval History

Starting with the country’s first amphibious landing on Plum Island, award-winning writer and Long Island historian Bill Bleyer will explore highlights of Long Island’s naval history — covering the British blockade during the American Revolution, the wreck of HMS Culloden, the sinking of the only American capital warship in World War I off Fire Island, and more — on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Montauk Library, located at 871 Montauk Highway.

A retired Newsdaystaff writer of 33 years, Bleyer is now the author of “The Fire Island Lighthouse: Long Island’s Welcoming Beacon,” “Sagamore Hill: Theodore Roosevelt’s Summer White House,” and co-wrote “Long Island and the Civil War.” Up next is “Long Island and the Sea: A Maritime History,” to be published by The History Press.

“Bleyer was part of the Newsday team that won a Pulitzer Prize for spot news coverage of the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1997,” a press release said. “He was also on the team that won the Newspaper Guild of New York’s 1984 Page One Award for a series about Social Security disability.”

Copies of Bleyer’s books will be available after a Q&A session following his talk, and admission is free. For more information, call (631) 668-3377 or visit

Mary O. Johnson: Social Realism Movement Meets John Jermain Library

Painting at a time between World Wars I and II, Mary O. Johnson contributed to the social realism movement with her art — and her daughter, Priscilla Johnson Ciccarello, will come by the John Jermain Memorial Library on Sunday afternoon to talk about it.

Johnson’s work will remain on view at the Sag Harbor library through March 30, and Ciccarello’s talk at 3 p.m. will coincide with an opening reception, starting at 2 p.m.

“Priscilla Johnson Ciccarello will talk about the life and work of her mother, as well as the family’s extensive efforts to create archive,” according to a press release.

For more information, call (631) 725-0049 or visit