Don't Tell Mama!: The Penguin Book of Italian American Writing

Overview

This important collection reveals as never before the quality, extent, and variety of the Italian American contribution to American literature. Bringing together fiction and poetry as well as academic essays and newspaper articles from the 1800s to the present, this volume covers a wide field of cultural experience. Including many previously unpublished pieces as well as classic works, and enhanced by an insightful and entertaining introduction by Regina Barreca, Don't Tell Mama highlights both the unity and the ...

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Overview

This important collection reveals as never before the quality, extent, and variety of the Italian American contribution to American literature. Bringing together fiction and poetry as well as academic essays and newspaper articles from the 1800s to the present, this volume covers a wide field of cultural experience. Including many previously unpublished pieces as well as classic works, and enhanced by an insightful and entertaining introduction by Regina Barreca, Don't Tell Mama highlights both the unity and the diversity of the Italian American experience.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Five years ago, A. Kenneth Ciongoli and Jay Parini brought out the first collection of writing on the Italian-American experience, Beyond the Godfather. This year, in time for Columbus Day, comes this hefty, exhaustive anthology. Barreca, author of A Sitdown with the Sopranos and They Used to Call Me Snow White... but I Drifted, selected and edited these essays by more than 90 influential Italian-American writers. Following Barreca's introduction is a witty piece by her brother Hugo, who offers his impression of Italian-American storytelling: "it was considered to be telling close to the truth... if what you reported as your own actions had actually happened to somebody at one time or another." No such collection would be complete without selections from Gay Talese's Unto the Sons, Barbara Grizzuti Harrison's Italian Days, Mario Puzo's The Godfather and Pietro di Donato's Christ in Concrete, considered to be the first great Italian-American novel. In "Food and Fatalism," Wally Lamb offers his recollections of growing up in Norwich, Conn.; in a selection from Were You Always an Italian?, Maria Laurino makes sense of such dialect words as "stunod," or idiot. Barreca also includes great writers who don't necessarily write about the immigrant experience, such as Carole Maso, Don DeLillo and Evan Hunter. This is an introduction not just to great Italian-American writing but to great literature. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Spanning Italian American writing by 90 authors since 1800, this anthology consists of essays, poems, and fiction and nonfiction excerpts. The authors included range from the well known (e.g., David Baldacci, Don DeLillo, Evan Hunter, Ray Romano) to those many readers will be unfamiliar with, including a fair number of academics. Although most of the pieces are reprints, several authors have contributed original pieces; most notable are Wally Lamb's "Food and Fatalism" and Josephine Hendin's "Who Will You Marry Now?" Editor Barreca's (They Used To Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted) introduction and her brother's counterintroduction are informative and personal. They also consider the unifying theme of the works included the transforming nature of the immigrant experience and the resulting need to craft communities. In the end, this is a mixed bag: a bit academic for public libraries and a bit too popular for academics. There are not many books of similar scope, but Bill Tonelli and Huston Smith's The Portable Italian-American: The Landmark Collection of the Best Italian-American Writing is coming from Morrow in March. Interest in Italian Americans is high, so buy as warranted. Neal Wyatt, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142002476
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 1.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Regina Barreca is a professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut. She is the editor of seven books, including The Penguin Book of Women's Humor, and the author of four others. She writes frequently for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Hartford Courant.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Why Don't Tell Mama! The Penguin Book of Italian American Writing?
Explanatory Notes and Caveats to the Introduction
From Under the Rose: A Confession 1
"Introduction to Rocchietti's Lorenzo and Oonalaska" 6
Selections, Lorenzo and Oonalaska (1835) 8
"Sinatra's 'Associations' with the Mob" 15
"Holy Cards" 18
From Wish You Well 35
"Buried Alive by Language" 37
From Umbertina 42
"Classic and Good" 48
"My Grandmother, A Chicken, and Death" 55
"My Life in Funeral Parlors" 57
From Claiming a Tradition: Italian American Women Writers 60
From Miss Giardino 62
"Story of My Weight" 67
"Careless Love: How Women Get to Hell" 74
From "Macaronis" 75
"Grandmother" 82
From A Bridge of Leaves 83
"Ossi Dei Morti" 86
"Small Acts" 87
"True or False" 89
"Useless Knowledge" 89
"The Evil Eye" 90
"In Place of a Curse" 91
"On Flunking a Nice Boy out of School" 92
"Statement" 92
"Lifelines" 93
"Ellis Island" 101
"Youthful Religious Experiences" 103
"Poverty of Language" 105
"Infidel" 106
From Family Honor: An American Life 107
"The First Night of the Wake" 114
From Underworld 119
From Leaven of the Pharisees: The Dark Side of Italian-American Life 123
"I study Italian" 128
"I stash treasures" 129
From Paper Fish 131
From Vertigo: A Memoir 138
From Breathless 140
From "Ars Longa, Vita brevis?" 142
From Tender Warriors 148
From Christ in Concrete 153
"The Depot" 164
"Sabbioneta to Parma" 165
From Recollections of My Life as a Woman 166
From The Brotherhood of the Grape 172
"Hail Mary" 175
From Wait Until Spring, Bandini 178
"The Old Italians Dying" 190
From The Family of Max Desir 193
From A Perfect Time for Butterflies 198
From Tree of Dark Reflection 199
From Blood of My Blood: The Dilemma of the Italian-Americans 208
From The Italian-American Writer: An Essay and an Annotated Checklist 221
"The Tidal Wave" 228
"Mafioso" 229
"Tailors" 230
"Opening the Door: 19th Street, Paterson" 231
"Secrets" 231
"Cleared Away" 233
"Money" 233
"Planting a Sequoia" 234
"For Grandma Lucia La Rosa, 'Light the Rose'" 235
"American Sonnets for My Father" 237
"Woman with Tongue Sculpted in Cheek" 238
"Anniversary I" 240
"Litania for My Mother's Hands" 240
From "MANAYUNK: Growing Up in Philadelphia During and After the War" 242
"Godfather II: Of Families and families" 255
From An Accidental Autobiography 260
"Who Will Mary You Now?" 265
"The Discourse of un'Propria Paparone" 282
From The Paper Dragon 286
From The Blackboard Jungle 296
From "The Kiss" 300
From Ulysses in Traction 301
"After Victory" 302
"Food and Fatalism" 315
From The Grand Gennaro 333
"Wear It in Good Health" 337
"First Cousins" 347
From "Words" 353
From Leading with my Chin 358
From "Sitdown at the Heartland Hotel" 361
From Mount Allegro 367
From La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience 374
"Your Children Are Your Children, but Your Wife Is Just a Good Cigar" 375
"Duet" 382
"Show & Tell" 383
"The Old Men Are Dying" 385
"The Lion's Head" 387
"Friend" 388
From "The Virgin's Nose" (or Picking Up a Piece of the Pieta) 390
From The Loss of the Miraculous 398
From We Ride a White Donkey 399
From Via Madison Avenue! 409
From Dances with Luigi: A Grandson's Determined Quest to Comprehend Italy and the Italians 414
"The Shylock's Wedding" 417
"Grandmother in Heaven" 428
"1913" 428
"The Miner's Wake" 429
"Ida Parini (1890-1976)" 430
From The Apprentice Lover 431
"Someday I Will Read 'Dover Beach'" 435
"Perfect Love" 436
From "The Movies" 436
"Canticle from the Book of Bob" 441
"Lost Innocence of the Potato Givers" 442
"Long Time Too Long" 443
From The Godfather 444
From The Fortunate Pilgrim 460
"Dedicated to an Old Friend Whose Kindness I Shall Never Forget" 469
From Benedetta in Guysterland: A Liquid Novel 471
From Everything and a Kite 477
From The Quick 482
"Video Blues" 486
From "Ravioli and Rage" 486
From Huddle Fever: Living in the Immigrant City 492
"How to Marry an Italian-American Man" 496
"The Veteran" 498
From Unto the Sons 500
From Like Lesser Gods 513
"Failed Fathers" 514
"The Widows" 515
"Song of the Castrato" 516
From Misfits and Remnants 518
From Astoria 523
From A Cup of the Sun 524
List of Contributors 525
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