A Safe Place: The True Story of a Father, a Son, a Murder

Overview

On his deathbed, Mario Carcaterra asked his son, Lorenzo, a simple question: "Do you love me?" Lorenzo's answer was equally simple, although heartbreaking. His answer was "No." A Safe Place is an extraordinary document, truly distinguished nonfiction that details a relationship startling for its violence and passion, devastating in its psychological ramifications, yet important and even uplifting for its ability to grab hold of and confront the truth. At one time, of course, Lorenzo Carcaterra did love his ...
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Overview

On his deathbed, Mario Carcaterra asked his son, Lorenzo, a simple question: "Do you love me?" Lorenzo's answer was equally simple, although heartbreaking. His answer was "No." A Safe Place is an extraordinary document, truly distinguished nonfiction that details a relationship startling for its violence and passion, devastating in its psychological ramifications, yet important and even uplifting for its ability to grab hold of and confront the truth. At one time, of course, Lorenzo Carcaterra did love his father. Yes, the older man was rough, often shockingly violent - beating Lorenzo's mother and Lorenzo himself - but such violence was a way of life in Hell's Kitchen, New York, in the fifties and sixties. And the violence was often tempered with warmth and affection. Lorenzo and his dad sat side by side at the fights at Madison Square Garden, they savored Italian ices on street corners in the summer they took the subway to the ballpark to root for their beloved Yankees. And then, when Lorenzo was fourteen years old, he learned that his father had murdered his first wife, had smothered her with a pillow in a jealous rage when she threatened to leave him. This news shattered Lorenzo. He couldn't look his father in the eye, couldn't respect the man he had respected above all others, couldn't feel love for the man he adored. Worse, he became terrified for his own future: Did he, Lorenzo, have that same murderous rage within him? The question began to haunt him, to dominate his life. And he began to hate his father, a hate that festered and grew as his father became more and more abusive to Lorenzo, to Lorenzo's mother, to the world around him. A Safe Place is a book of many dimensions. It is an evocative portrait of a time gone by, a time of Italian immigrants standing in fire-hydrant showers in the sweltering New York streets, a time of both great innocence and great fear. The book is also, in many ways, an intimate biography of two people, Lorenzo's parents: hi
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this memoir, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra recalls growing up in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen in the 1950s and 1960s, a crime-ridden area populated mostly by Irish and Italian immigrant families. He lived with his father Mario--ex-boxer, butcher and small-time con man--and Mario's second wife, the author's mother. Known in the neighborhood as a man with a hair-trigger temper, Mario beat his wife and his son mercilessly for years. On a trip to Italy, where the then 14-year-old author learned that his father had been imprisoned for killing his first wife, the small bit of love he felt for him turned to hate. After Mario's death in 1988, however, Carcaterra became nostalgic about the trips to Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden that they had enjoyed together, and he realized that he had loved his father. The book is psychologically harrowing, and readers will probably conclude that, despite having an articulate and forgiving son, Mario was a monster. 40,000 first printing. (Jan.)
Library Journal
The author, a journalist and television editor, grew up on the mean streets of New York City's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s. He adored his violent, abusive father until, at age 14, he learned that the older man had murdered his first wife. This memoir recounts Carcaterra's discovery of his parents' history, an unrelieved litany of brutal, pathological acting-out by his father, contrasted with the strange compliance of his long-suffering mother, who never left her husband. While it offers few explanations for Carcaterra pere 's behavior or the author's success in escaping a childhood hell, this is a heartfelt, vivid tale with an agonizing denouement--even on his father's deathbed, Carcarterra could not say he loved him. Of interest to selected popular audiences and collections on domestic violence and ethnic studies.-- Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679402824
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/4/1993
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 315

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2008

    One of the best books you will ever read!

    This book is truly a must read! It is by far one of my favorite books due to its ability to enrapture the reader and take you on an emotional journey through the life and times of Carcaterra himself! Gut-wrenching at times and tear-jerking at others, this book will never cease to keep you on your toes. A true gem of a book, it is the perfect follow up to Carcaterra's 'Sleepers' (another truly amazing book), or is equally perfect on its own. Give it a try! You won't be disappointed!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2009

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