These moving yet unsentimental stories recount scenes in the coming of age of Petey Bellapani, from age eight to adolescence, growing up in the Italian Catholic ethnic neighborhood of Bridgeport in Chicago. The scenes form powerful images of urban youth: A fire burns Petey’s home above a bakery. A neighborhood softball game takes an unexpected turn. And first love blooms next door and at the laundromat. The Logic of a Rose won the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction, selected by Gladys Swan.
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Billy Lombardo’s prize-winning The Logic of a Rose is as rich and vital as Bridgeport, the blue-collar Chicago neighborhood in which these stories are set. Lombardo knows this world intimately and writes with a naturalness that makes his streetsmart surface wholly convincing, but the seeming effortlessness of his storytelling depends on a sophisticated sense of craft and a deep sense of empathy.
Stuart Dybek, I Sailed with Magellan
Read this to find your heart bursting into song. Such is the utter love for humanity that infuses every line, glance and gesture in this spectacularly tender collection. At the book’s core is the centrifugal force of a neighborhood, an Italian corner in Irish Bridgeport. Out of its stoops and corners, Lombardo weaves poignant stories of emigration and acculturation. With an unerring ear for the keenness of childhood, Lombardo concocts Petey Bellapani, his central narrator. Him, you’ll want to adopt. This being impossible, you take him deep and hard into your heart.
Anne Calcagno, Pray For Yourself
Billy’s fictional recollections of Bridgeport run counter to the stereotypical descriptions of this historically political and often violent section of Chicago’s South Side. Reading them, one rediscovers the indomitable goodness that abides within the boys (and girls and punks) on the block and the citizen-parents who watch them from their two-flat windows above. No matter what calamities and deformities mar their lives, certain principles of empathy and compassion, passed on from neighborhood old to neighborhood new, flicker in the hearts of the worst and best. The only thing better than reading these tales is hearing Billy’s voice bring them to life with the passion and authenticity of one who has lived with and understood the good people of this hardscrabble corner of the city that works.
Marc Smith, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Slam PoetryAbout the Author:
Billy Lombardo began writing as a poet in the Chicago slam poetry scene. His fiction has appeared in such publications as StoryQuarterly, Other Voices, Cicada, and the Bryant Literary Review. He teaches fiction and directs the Service Learning Program at The Latin School of Chicago, where he also serves as the faculty sponsor for Polyphony H.S., a new national literary magazine for high school writers. A graduate of Loyola University, and a life-long resident of the Chicago area, Billy now lives in Forest Park with his wife, Elisa, a singer/songwriter, and his sons Seth and Kane. Billy writes for The Forest Park Post.
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