The Italian American Reader: A Collection of Outstanding Stories, Memoirs, Journalism, Essays, and Poetry

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9780060006662: The Italian American Reader: A Collection of Outstanding Stories, Memoirs, Journalism, Essays, and Poetry

The Italian American Reader has been seven decades in the making. It could simply and accurately be described as a dazzlingly smart and lively collection of superb works by some of America's most gifted writers. All their surnames happen to end in vowels, true, but that need not affect your enjoyment of this volume one way or the other. America, too, is an Italian name ending in a vowel.

Inside, there are nearly seventy excellent things for you to read -- excerpts from novels and memoirs, short stories, essays, and poems -- by the living and the dead, the famous and the obscure. Some date back to the 1930s; others were freshly hatched in the twenty-first century. They are variously moving, funny, poignant, lusty, biting, reverent, witty, loving, angry, and wise. They deal in the most profound aspects of our lives no matter who we are: home, love, sex, family, food, work, God, death. Many feature familiar Italian American characters, settings, and themes, but not all.

No matter what they are about, they are all in the end about who and what we are, the essence of history and memory and blood. There are gangsters in here, but there are grandmas too, along side lovers and fighters, thinkers and doers, cops and robbers, poets and grocers, sinners and saints. There are plenty of moms and pops and aunts and uncles and cousins. Frank Sinatra and the Virgin Mary make appearances.

This anthology is a genuine landmark -- the first general-reader hardcover collection of writing by Italian American authors. It is part manifesto, part Sunday dinner -- a gathering of voices old and new, some speaking in the accents of another age, some completely contemporary and assured, all together for the first time. To stand with all the other popular media images we represent, now, at last, one exists in written form, the literature of Italian American lifethe past, present, and future, which is also America's future.

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About the Author:

Bill Tonelli is a journalist and magazine editor in New York. He is the author of The Amazing Story of the Tonelli Family in America.

From Publishers Weekly:

Tonelli, a former editor at Esquire and Rolling Stone magazines and author of The Amazing Story of the Tonelli Family in America, offers this personal and solid compendium of Italian-American voices. After enumerating the accomplishments of other Italian-American artists (singers, musicians, actors, film directors), Tonelli compares these highlights with those of other immigrants and asks whether Italians, in fact, need to be recognized for literary accomplishments. The answer is yes, and Tonelli thematically arranges 68 stories, poems and excerpts from memoirs and novels by such categories as "Home," "Mom," "Work" and "Death." The selection of contributors (some dead, most still writing) is anything but perfunctory, and none of the selections gives a stereotypical picture of Italian-Americans (in fact, several contributors even refuse to identify themselves by ethnicity). The book opens with a section from Don DeLillo's Underworld and includes a piece each by Evan Hunter and Ed McBain (who are one and the same, of course). Kim Addonizio and Tom Perrotta have pieces under "Sex, Love, and Good Looks"; no tome of Italian-American literature would be complete without Camille Paglia, Gay Talese, John Fante and Pietro DiDonato. While Tonelli doesn't shy from stories about or figures of the Mafia (Nick Pileggi contributes a section of Wiseguys, as does Victoria Gotti from Superstar), Mario Puzo's only piece is from his first, underappreciated novel, Fortune's Pilgrim, about the immigrant experience. Nick Tosches sets the tone of this beautiful volume with a bold homage to the granddaddy of Italian-American literature, Emanuele Conegliano, better known as Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist for La nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosu fan tutte.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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