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Cover for Welcome to Shirley

Welcome to Shirley

A Memoir from an Atomic Town

Kelly McMasters


List Price: 18.99*
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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.

PublicAffairs, 9781610397063, 328pp.

Publication Date: December 22, 2015

About the Author

Kelly McMasters' essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Newsday, Elle Dér, Metropolis, and Time Out New York, among others. She teaches writing at Columbia University and 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.