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Beyond The Godfather: Italian American Writers on the Real Italian American Experience written by A. Kenneth Ciongoli

 

Beyond The Godfather: Italian American Writers on the Real Italian American Experience written by A. Kenneth Ciongoli

Overview:

In the New York Times Book Review, Gay Talese raised the question, "Where are all the Italian American writers?" Two years later, editors Ciongoli and Parini respond convincingly with this anthology of essays by 23 Italian American writers. Memoirs in the first section reveal the truths of the people and relationships behind the stereotypes. Whether reflecting on rosary beads, the aroma of garlic sauteed in olive oil, a bigotry that labels a child "the smelly Italian," or the art of perfect ironing, these writers share abiding love and respect for their cultural heritage and engage readers with their poignant accounts. Some consider how these experiences shaped them as writers: Talese himself credits time spent in his family's dress shop as the source of his nonfiction writing style.

The next section provides analyses of Italian American literature, and a third traces some Italian American political struggles. Essential for Italian American readers and students, Beyond "The Godfather" is also a must for anyone who would know more of what it is to be Italian in our society and for those wishing to learn about the struggle between assimilation and the preservation of one's cultural birthright.

CONTIBUTORS: John Agresto, Michael Barone, Regina Barreca, Mary Cappello, Matilda Cuomo, Louise DeSalvo, Richard Gambino, Fred L. Gardaphe, Claire Gaudiani, Sandra Gilbert, Dana Gioia, Edvige Giunta, Linda Hutcheon, Maria Laurino, Frank Lentricchia, Alane Salierno Mason, Joseph V. Scelsa, Gay Talese, Anthony J. Tamburri, Marianna De Marco Torgovnick, Rudolph J. Vecoli, and the editors

Synopsis:

A long overdue collection of memoirs and scholarlyreflections on growing up Italian and American.

Publishers Weekly

The most vibrant essays here move the discussion beyond the Mafiosi stereotypes and offer new appreciation of the often discounted influence that Italian Americans have had on American literature and life. The first section (of three) is devoted to personal reflection. In this context, critic Louise DeSalvo describes the burden of being the one child 'selected by family elders to carry all the hopes for success for the family.' In the second section on the Italian American literary tradition, professor Fred L. Gardaph examines the keeping and breaking of the important code of omert, or secrecy. In the third section on particular aspects of Italian American heritage, Ciongoli, a neurologist and president of the National Italian American Foundation, argues for a return to the ideals of the Roman republic, ideals that inspired the founders of our own. Maternal influences run strongly for writers throughout this collection: Talese learns how to listen to stories, especially the parts left out, from his dressmaker mother who was sought out and respected by society women. Many children of immigrant families feel a sense of isolation, of not fitting in. The writers here have taken their differences, those magnets for discrimination, and used them instead as lodestones to success.

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Title: Beyond The Godfather: Italian American Writers on the Real Italian American Experience

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