The summer I turned 18, my parents went away to Europe and I lived with my grandmother in our family’s rambling summer home in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. It was an unusual housing scenario. My grandmother was the grande dame of an elite summer colony that had begun hosting cocktail parties and picking blueberries in the New Hampshire hills even before her own grandparents had bought the house in 1905.

Meanwhile, I was there in the house expressly to escape the confines of the upper-crust world. A bony, scowling, and acne-pocked iconoclast, I’d never fit in at my prep school back in Connecticut. But there in New Hampshire, hanging out with my friends, year-round residents all, I’d been able to flourish — to recast myself as a wry comedian and a sort of visiting scholar capable of leading… More…