As a writer, a musician, and a dreamer, Don believes that having an open heart, an open mind, and being able to seek out the best in others is invaluable. His books provide examples of unadulterated humanity, from despair to joy, from heartache to triumph.
His new book, “Real Men Wear Beige” is in stark contrast with his first book in terms of style and content, as it comes from a different time and place in his life. Its language and tone match the realism of the setting it represents. Real Men Wear Beige is about his journey through the criminal justice system and his incarceration after receiving a 5 year prison sentence on an official misconduct charge. The book reveals some hard, cold facts about prison life through a very expressive and provocative story and does so in a poignant and somewhat “tongue in cheek” manner. The book “Orange is the New Black” by Piper Kerman could be considered comparable in terms of its depiction of prison relationships, comradery and setting, but the incredible journey depicted in Real Men Wear Beige is a bit “rougher and tougher,” reflecting the differences between the women’s and men’s prison environment. The journey is intense, informative and enlightening.
His first book is titled “Be Strong, Be Tough, Be Smart.” It tells the triumphant story of raising his son who was diagnosed with autism at the age of four and went on to become a PhD in Engineering Physics, working with NASA and other space science institutions.
As a musician and songwriter whose musical career was at its height in the 1980’s, he has now come full- circle and has also recorded a Real Men Wear Beige Soundtrack featuring the songs he wrote while incarcerated to express the emotions and events swirling around him. The Soundtrack is available at www.rmwbeige.com
“This author brings a nuanced, wry perspective to the prison memoir genre.”
– Kirkus Reviews
A no-holds-barred account of life at several different levels of the American correctional system.
After being arrested for “official misconduct”—he cheated on his expenses while working as a government official—author Alfredano (Be Strong, Be Tough, Be Smart, 2014) embarked on a harrowing journey through different levels of the American correctional system, starting at New York City’s infamous Rikers Island jail and ending at a state prison. He candidly reveals his experiences behind bars, one he hopes show “what incarceration is all about.” “We deal with the idea of prison the same way we deal with cancer,” he writes. “We merely latch on to complacency and focus on the reassuring notion that ‘it could never happen to me.’ ” Alfredano provides few details of his pre-incarceration life, preferring to immediately plunge the reader into prison life. At Rikers Island, he faces “the absolute worst of humanity” in both the detainees and the correctional officers, spending four days in an observation cell where he witnesses a “psychotic kid” stick another cellmate in the eye with a plastic spoon. “I remember thinking that there were probably prisoner-of-war camps with better conditions than this,” he says. At the state prison, he has to strike a “delicate balance between staying out of trouble with the COs and commanding enough respect from fellow inmates to keep them from challenging you.” Alfredano is treading on somewhat familiar ground, Orange Is the New Black being another recent addition to the prison memoir genre. But this work benefits from the author’s distinctive, hard-boiled turns of phrase—a detainee at Rikers was “like some cartoon circus act on steroids”—and his sense of the absurd. In a county jail, he recalls, five of the inmates were related, the whole family having “apparently been in and out of [the] jail facility throughout the years like a vacation home in the Hamptons.” Alfredano also finds the humanity in such characters as a jailhouse lawyer who can’t write his own letters because he is illiterate. “Only those who have experienced living behind bars are able to know the veritable depth of their fellow man,” he observes.
The author brings a nuanced, wry perspective to the prison memoir genre.
Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2015
Page count: 142pp
Review Posted Online: March 18, 2016
A father’s guide to raising an autistic child.
In this debut—part memoir, part self-help manual—Alfredano chronicles his parenting journey. When his son Denny was first diagnosed with autism in the mid-1980s, there wasn’t very much information available about the disorder, so Alfredano became adept at dealing with his son intuitively. Early on, he found a successful approach: turn Denny’s “defenses” into resources. Like many autistic children, Denny relished routines, so Alfredano tried to make them work to their advantage. For example, Denny loved nature, so one of the author’s first breakthroughs was to regularly take his son for a walk, pointing out the exact same landmarks each time. Learning these individual patterns was crucial to his son’s success, but raising an autistic child wasn’t easy, and the author is honest about the patience and fortitude that was required. Denny went on to do remarkably well academically, even earning a doctorate, but his father is realistic about his son’s limitations: “Denny had triumphed over essentially all of his autistic behaviors and excelled communicatively,” he writes. “And yet at twenty-five years old, he still seemed to have no genuine interest in dating, in nurturing long-term friendships or relationships, or in going out to social gatherings.” A long, final chapter by Denny’s sister, Giada Star, is welcome, as it adds a unique, personal element and provides a very different take on Denny. There are moments when Alfredano’s tone is a bit preachy, as when he repeatedly reminds readers that their children should be their first priority. However, his overall approach is highly engaging and sympathetic. As he shares his story, he’s very open about his own failings, such as focusing too much on Denny’s interests at the expense of other academic topics. His conclusion—that Denny’s success must be taken in stride—gives the book a very human touch.
A thoughtful, helpful memoir about the challenges and pleasures of living with an autistic child.
Pub Date: April 26, 2014
Page count: 124pp
Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014
Real Men Wear Beige
Musician, Songwriter, Author, Vocational Training Program Director
Favorite line from a book
“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us. —Thomas Paine”
Passion in life
As a writer, a musician, and a dreamer, Donato believes that having an open heart, an open mind, and being able to seek out the best in others is invaluable. His books provide examples of unadulterated humanity, from despair to joy, from heartache to triuArtist's Spotlight by Michael James, Producer , 2016
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