Rockaway Beach, 2001. Sarah, a painter from southern California, retreats to this eccentric, eclectic beach town in the far reaches of Queens with the hopes of rediscovering her passion for painting. Sarah has the opportunity for a real gallery showing if only she can create some new and interesting work. There, near the beach, she hopes to escape a life caught in the stasis of caregiving for her elderly parents and working at an art supply store to unleash the artist within. One summer, a room filled with empty canvasses, nothing but possibility.
There she meets Marty, an older musician from a once-popular band whose harmonies still infuse the summertime music festivals. His strict adherence to his music and to his Jewish faith will provoke unexpected feelings in Sarah and influence both her time there and her painting.
Rockaway is a time capsule love letter to a quirky, singular town, in a time before an entire community was brought to its knees in the events about to occur in September 2001, and to an entire town that faced tragedy again when it was summarily devastated eleven years later by Hurricane Sandy. It is the startling new fiction by a writer praised by
A single, 34-year-old artist frets about her talent, nurses a drinking problem, and embarks on a nonrelationship with a man more than 20 years her senior in Ison s thin third novel (after The List). When Sarah flees her clingy parents and stagnant life in Southern California to spend the summer of 2001 housesitting in Rockaway Beach, in the borough of Queens, New York, her future looks full of promise. With expensive tubes of paints and carefully stretched canvases in tow, she vows to dedicate her time to art. But after days (and too many pages) turn into weeks of staring at the walls and downing various alcoholic beverages, Sarah has nothing to show for her time but a pale sketch of a shell. A tentative affair with aging, kosher-keeping rocker Marty and a trip to see a friend in Connecticut (new mother Emily) prove equally unremarkable, except for a bizarre, out-of-place moment when Sarah is pressured to practice breastfeeding her friend s child. By the end of this haphazard tale, readers will be wondering if Sarah has finally achieved her artistic breakthrough, or just a nervous breakdown after one too many glugs from a bottle of cooking sherry.