Harried in the Hamptons

There's nothing like a bout of harsh winter weather to set off daydreams of curling up in a cozy chair with a book. To me, this is the ideal time of year to read something light and funny - I don't want to add to the doldrums of winter with a grim and depressing tome. This brings me to a book that was a particular pleasure to read.

Lapham Rising by Roger Rosenblatt is the story of Harry, a curmudgeonly recluse who lives on a small island and writes for a living. He lives alone, but for his talking dog Hector, who provides little in the way of comfort. While Harry leans toward liberalism (as long as it doesn’t require him to talk to anyone), Hector the dog is a scolding evangelist and would certainly be a Republican if he could vote. Nevertheless, life is bearable until an ostentatious multi-millionaire purchases the island directly across from Harry’s house and sets about building an atrocious McMansion.

Every day Harry awakes to a cacophony of bulldozers, hammers and the like. His first attempt at protest involves piloting a radio-controlled boat to his neighbor's island with a note attached: "Mr. Lapham, tear down that house!" When this tactic fails, Harry creates a sort of Rube Goldberg machine to bring the millionaire to his knees and show his dog a thing or to about living by one’s principles.

This was a laugh-out-loud book for me, which is a rarity. There’s nothing better than a "stickin' it to The Man" story even if "The Man" barely notices the assault.