Pink Slip

Pink Slip

by Rita Ciresi


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Pink Slip by Rita Ciresi

Lisa Diodetto's mother may be ready for her to get married but Lisa isn't.

At her sister's wedding she ducks when the bridal bouquet comes floating her way, and the only "eligible bachelor" in Lisa's life is her beloved gay cousin, Dodie.

Ditching her life as an underpaid, oversexed publishing drone in Manhattan, Lisa takes a lucrative spot at a more conservative company, and begins writing--on company time--a novel that pokes fun at corporate life.

Enter Lisa's main character: her new boss, Eben Strauss. A man of manners and caution, Strauss manages to bring out the best bad girl in Lisa. And before they know it, two very different people from two very different worlds are doing the one thing you should never do at the office: falling in love.

In her funny, familiar, heartbreaking new novel, the award-winning author of Blue Italian weaves a tale of family, work, sex, and love--and of all the things we try to leave behind but never really can. . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385323635
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/1999
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 7.84(w) x 5.26(h) x 1.04(d)

About the Author

Rita Ciresi is the author of Mother Rocket, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and the novels Pink Slip and Blue Italian. She lives with her husband and daughter in Florida.

Read an Excerpt

I Know You Are, But What Am I?--1985

On my twenty-fifth birthday, my mother gave me a man.

This was unusual. I hadn't received a gift from Mama since my father had a massive coronary four years before. After Daddy's death, Mama claimed I didn't appreciate her last birthday gifts (the turquoise nylon briefs and the plastic Pagliacci shower cap), nor did I carry the tote bag she had ordered after sending in sixteen blue stickers off the Chiquita bananas--so that would be the end of any largesse from her social-security check, thank you very much.

I started to protest, then thought better of it. "Fine by me," I told Mama. Because the tote bag showed a dancing twelve-inch Carmen Miranda banana shaking a pair of maracas to this message: just put one in your mouth. I needed those kinds of gifts like I needed the kind of whopper crotch infection I got after wearing those polyester birthday briefs Mama surely had picked out of a Railroad Salvage Store bin labeled: CHOO-CHOO CHEAPO ASKS SHOPPERS--CAN YOU BEAT THIS PRICE?  FIVE FOR A BUCK! Mama must have been having trouble with her bifocals that day, because not a single one of the five briefs was the right size. Either that, or she didn't like how skinny I was getting and hoped I would eat enough to fill out first a size six, then a size seven, and then three size eights.

Twenty-five was a big birthday for me--if only to put twenty-four behind me. On the cusp of my quarter-of-a-century anniversary on earth, I found in my kitchen cabinet a monstrous rodent chewing himself blue in the face on a Brillo pad, causing me to bag Brooklyn and my grunt job in publishing and move out to the 'burbs--Ossining, to be exact, where I had landed an assistant-manager position in the Editorial division of Boorman Pharmaceuticals, whose corporate headquarters squatted like a behemoth battleship in the middle of the lush Hudson River Valley. The job--or rather, the seemingly hefty paycheck attached to it--permitted me to rent an apartment with a closet and a real bathroom sink. I bought my first car--a silver Toyota Corolla--and wondered, as I drove it back to Connecticut to show it off to my mother and sister, if I would get free samples of drugs.

It was unusually hot for May, and my T-shirt was soaked through by the time I made it to New Haven. The only way I could afford the car was to have the dealer strip it of the power brakes, the power steering, the floor mats, the cassette player--and, unfortunately, the air-conditioning.

"You want me to remove the engine too?" the salesman asked.

"You can keep that in," I said, as I signed on the bottom line. After he asked me, too pointedly, if I'd like to take a ride up to Hyde Park in his fully air-conditioned Celica, I told him, "Sorry, I need to stay home and clean out my vegetable crisper." I honked my horn long and loud when I left the lot. Cocky men like that gave me the creeps--yet sometimes they had their uses. In my brief but wanton sexual career in the city, I prided myself on having whipped more than a few hopeless characters into datable shape--or at the very least I had pulled the plug on one sheepskin-lined water bed and trained its owner not to wear black shoes with tan pants, and vice versa. But the quest for a tolerable Friday-night escort was slow going. A girl could easily get discouraged. She also could get desperate. I posted the car salesman's business card on my freezer door, underneath a magnet that said MONEY STINKS, BUT BOY DO I LOVE THE SMELL! just as a reminder of that.

At home I found my older sister, Carol, parked on my mother's red plaid couch. Why Carol ever had gotten married was beyond me. She moved only two blocks away and visited Mama every afternoon. Her husband's name was Alfonso. Everyone called him Al. His middle name was Dante. Carol didn't even think this was funny. Al Dante was the ultimate in guido: He used to work for our father's cement business before Daddy died and the company went under. Al drove a gold Cutlass with a jacked-up rear. Al said, "Whazzadoin' now?" whenever he got annoyed at Carol--which was practically every time she opened her mouth--and every Friday night he took his bowling bag down to the Ten Pin. Once Carol begged me to come along to watch, and I actually saw Al make the sign of the cross before he sent the big black ball barreling down the alley. "Fuggin' A!" he hollered when the Holy Mother granted him a strike.

But Al loved Carol, in a way no man yet had loved me. I knew it from the way he came up behind her and licked--like a kitten lapping at a bowl of milk--the back of her neck as she washed the dinner dishes. And Carol loved Al, in a way I had yet to love any man--I knew it from the way she squawked, "Get outta here," and jumped so hard that dish soap flew like joyous Spumante bubbles over the faucet and dishwater dripped from the sink.

Sometimes I envied what my sister and her husband had together: a closeness that allowed them to sit in silence after dinner, Al crushing walnuts with my father's old pewter nutcracker and Carol using a silver dentistlike implement to pick out the meat, saving the particularly good-looking nuts to pop into Al's mouth. Other times I thought that what Carol and Al had between them was nothing more than what my own parents had possessed: a beat-up car, a chipped front porch, and a worn shag carpet. Like my mother, Carol wore an apron every day. Like my father, Al never dressed up except to go to a wedding or funeral. On such occasions Al would not let Carol wear high heels, because then she would be taller than he was. "Why don't you just tell Al to go blow?" I asked once, and Carol said, "Oh, for God's sake, Lisa, until you get married yourself, you just won't get it. You don't get it." Then she sighed as she bent over the creaking wicker laundry basket and sorted Al's underwear into one pile and hers into another. His and hers. His and hers. I watched her, horrified. If that was marriage, I thought, those two could have it.

The back door of my mother's house usually was locked against murderers, burglars, and aunts who wanted to borrow (without asking) my mother's prized no-stick lasagne pan. But the early advent of summer apparently had melted down Mama's caution. I let myself in through the screen door.

On the couch, Carol dropped her knitting needles and clutched the double skein of white yarn in her lap. "Lisa, you scared me. I lost count of my purls. Besides, you could have been a rapist!"

"Why don't you lock the door if you're so scared of that?" I asked.

"Because it's ninety degrees outside!"

"Tell me about it," I said, wiping my face on my wet T-shirt. "How can you knit in this heat?"

Carol resumed clacking her teal-green needles together. "I just got these new number nines," she said. "And this great white yarn for half price--" Then she brayed up the stairs, "Ma. Maaaaa! The working girl is here!"

There was a thud--my mother's feet hitting the ground as she rolled out of bed from her afternoon nap--and then the dull sound of something being dragged along the bare wooden floor. My mother came downstairs the way things usually got done in my family, culo avanti--or in regular English, bass ackwards. On each step Mama bumped a long brown box that reminded me of the cardboard coffin my cousin Dodici and I used to fashion out of the container that held our five-foot artificial Christmas tree.

Dodie and I were strange kids. We liked to play funeral.

"What's that?" Carol asked.

"For the birthday girl," Mama said. After making a real production out of dragging the box downstairs, Mama hoisted it up so easily I suspected there was nothing but tissue paper inside. She motioned me to sit down on the couch and put the box in front of my feet. Carol made annoyed clucking sounds as she gathered up her white yarn and looked so enviously at the box I could tell she hadn't a clue about the contents. The sheer size of the box seemed to promise that whatever was inside would make up for all those past bad gifts and prove that Mama was a real mother.

Then I remembered how the words real mother always were used as an insult in junior high.

YOUR UNIQUE SECURITY PRODUCT HAS ARRIVED! the outside of the box announced in green letters. With the sewing scissors Carol reluctantly offered me, I slit the tape. When I turned down the flaps, a man mannequin--dressed in a white V-neck T-shirt--solemnly gazed back at me. He was naked from the waist down. On his head he wore a navy Yankees cap exactly like the one that had belonged to my father.

"It's a dead man," Carol said. "In Daddy's baseball cap!"

"It's not a real uomo," Mama said. "Not a real man."

"I can tell that, Mother," I said, as I checked his groin and found only two white buttons--big as cream doughnuts--that connected his limp cloth legs to his more substantial body.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

Bret Lott

Ms. Ciresi's wonderful prose and generous heart work together pitch-perfectly here to render what we all hope for: a good love story.
—(Bret Lott, author of Jewel)

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Rita Ciresi's Pink Slip.

1. Why does Strauss retreat into boardroom speech when talking to Lisa about their relationship?

2. Lisa is usually a very direct person. Why isn't she able to tell Strauss that she stumbled upon his piece about his father in the story collection she picked up?

3. What was the main reason for the disintegration of Lisa and Strauss's relationship?


The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Rita Ciresi's Pink Slip.

Customer Reviews

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4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had no empathy for any of these characters, all of whom seemed under-developed. The romance was non-existant, the sex scenes mechanical, and the protagonist ridiculously stupid. Beyond that, there seemed to be no plot arc, just a series of plodding steps as the protagonist trudged through her life. Plot points seemd to be added for shock value, not because they added anything valuable to the story. I could keep going but I'm sure you get the idea.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lays down takes off clothes and rubs puzzy waiting for aiden
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the hunters den
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He kisses her lips, sighing. "Hopefully we are good."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She smirks winking. "Guess we'll have to wait and find out,"
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book gives insight into different religions, unbringings, and lifestyles. It is a great read that is sure to open your eyes. I couldn't put it down! I look forward to reading more books from this author. Definitely a new favorite.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the beginning of the narrative, Ciresi keeps us entertained and interested in action, characters, and emotions of this book. I found it amazing that she could portray corporate life without one half page of boredom, but boring is not a adjective in her world. Although I am not Italian I thought the book recalled the limitations imposed on children of any faith and the conflicting realities when they grow up. I just loved her spunk, moxie, or chutzpah. Her honesty in divulging her feelings, and experiences that may not be 'politically correct' is what makes the book so personal and poignant. Her gay cousin is so perfectly drawn, and the other characters are equally 'unfuzzy.' Most women would love this book, especially working women, single women, and women with gay friends-- I totally admire Ciresi( and even thought while reading the book that I had no business thinking I was an author when people out there can write like she does,) but that is a compliment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't care about any of the characters in this book. I should have skipped this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed this book. It reminded me a little of my own Italian family. I particuarily loved the mother, who reminded me of my grandmother. I only have two criticisms and they are a) the cousin getting aids I found to be slightly cliched. (Only becuase every book I read with a gay male in it he gets hiv/aids); b) I would have liked it if there was an epiloque at the end to explain better how struass and lisa ended up and to see if the families got along. I really did enjoy this book. I loved the honest writing and strong emotion that Rita Cerisi portrays.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down!!! I just finished reading it, and although I have never heard of the author before, I loved every minute of it! I laughed, cried and felt very connected to the characters. I just saw that she has a sequel to it, I can't wait to pick it up!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will make you cry, smile, feel good about yourself and make you laugh out loud like a crazy person! It contains all the elements of a great book! You will remember the characters and the events even after you finish reading it. Ciresi is a genius who has so graciously put her talent in the spotlight so the entire world can read her books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was amazing. you cry out of sadness from this book but as well as out of happiness. even after the read you cant stop thinking about the book and the characters. for a good read, pick up this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Decided to give this book a shot- although I haven't really heard about this author before. This book was awesome! It was a bit drawn out in the beginning regarding her "masculine ways", but the story of Lisa (Elisabetta) herself at work and with her cousin and especially her boss, makes this book one you don't really want to put down. I much enjoyed this novel. Highly recommend it for a fun and memorable read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a college course entitled Contemporary Novel and I couldn't have enjoyed it any more. This is, hands down, the best book I've ever read. One knows a book is good if, even after 400 pages, you don't want it to end. Three months later and I'm still thinking about Lisa!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book out of a whim. And am I glad I did. I loved it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. This is a wonderfully raunchy, bittersweet, satisfying love story. One of those romance classics you keep picking up just to reread the best scenes again. And not at all trashy--the satiric humor is dead-on and the prose is just terrific.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rita Ciresi has captured life in an Italian family to a tee. Born and raised in an Italian-Catholic family in New Haven, I was pleased to read how accurate her description was of my old neighborhood...right down to the Q bridge references!!! She is a wonderful writer! For those people in search of a good book with wonderful characters, buy this one today. Thank you, Rita, for bringing me back to my old neighborhood without me ever having to leave my home in Georgia.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I began this book, I wasn't sure if I would like it, in fact I kept putting off reading. Once I delved into it, I couldn't believe I waited so long. This is an amazingly fun and touching story to read. Truly inspirational. I can't wait to read her three other books. This is a talented writer that should keep telling stories!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was funny and sad all at once. Ciresi has a wonderful gift for language and making her characters incredibly human AND endearing. I loved the portrayal of corporate life and office gossipers--all TRUE! I couldn't put this one down, and I couldn't hold back the happy tears at the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was wonderful! From the first page tell the last... You always want to know what is going to happen next.I could barely put this book down. This women is a wonderful writter and I am glad I got this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, because it has its funny moments as well as the serious ones, much how life really is. There were moments that I could really relate to her, and there were others that I didn't, but overall, I would recommend this book.