Giovanna's 86 Circles: And Other Stories (Library of American Fiction)

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9780299212803: Giovanna's 86 Circles: And Other Stories (Library of American Fiction)

    These ten magical stories are primarily set in Pittsburgh-area river towns, where Italian American women and girls draw from their culture and folklore to bring life and a sense of wonder to a seemingly barren region of the Rust Belt. Each story catapults the ordinary into something original and unpredictable.
    A skeptical journalist scopes out the bar where the town mayor, in seemingly perfect health, is drinking with his buddies and celebrating what he claims is the last day of his life. A woman donates her dead mother’s clothes to a thrift shop but learns that their destiny is not what she expected. A ten-year-old girl wrestles with the facts of life as she watches her neighbor struggle to get pregnant while her teenage sister finds it all too easy. A high school girl hallucinates in a steamy hospital laundry room and discovers she can see her coworkers’ futures. A developer’s wrecking ball is no match for the legend of Giovanna’s green thumb in the title story “Giovanna’s 86 Circles.”
    Quirky and profound, Corso’s magical leaps uncover the everyday poetry of these women’s lives.

Finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award


Selected for “Best Short Stories of 2005” in Montserrat Review

Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association

Sons of Italy National Book Club Selection
 

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About the Author:

Paola Corso is the recipient of the 2000 Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize and was nominated for a Pushcart Press Editors’ Book Award. She is a New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow and author of a book of poems Death by Renaissance. A native of the Pittsburgh area, she now lives in Brooklyn and teaches fiction in New York City.

Review:

Giovanna’s 86 Circles is an appealing gathering of short fiction at a time when American culture is changing radically. Corso's characters are Old World people vulnerable to the assault of contemporary capitalism, but dreaminess relieves the stresses of their lives. Her prose is inviting in its clarity and music as she creates a world that is at once familiar and strange. Corso’s debut collection is at the same level of literary achievement as Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies and Junot Diaz’s Drown.”—David Huddle, author of The Story of a Million Years

"With her swift and gritty sentences, Corso conjures a world where houses were painted gray since the mill soot would turn them that color anyway, where Jell-O and pineapple salad stood for dessert. It was a humble if pinched society, down on its luck but at least rich in tradition. Corso honors that fact in Giovanna's 86 Circles, and then some." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



"Corso's strong ethnic narratives in Giovanna's 86 Circles are remniscent of those by Toni Morrison."-Pittsburgh Magazine

"Giovanna's 86 Circles is accessible, big-hearted fiction. Corso has, as has been written of Bruce Springsteen, 'a Catholic imagination.' Like Springsteen, too, she tends toward the apotheosis of everyday people struggling with faith of some species." -The City Paper

"Beautifully written, strong female characters, and adolescent themes will attract good readers to this little gem of a book." Pennsylvania School Library Association Young Adult Top Forty List

"Corso mixes myth and reality, fable and grit to illustrate the beauty, the power, and the necessity of storytelling. She makes a major contribution to the growing body of female Italian-American literature." -Rita Ciresi, Mother Rocket and Blue Italian

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