Perfect for the nightstand, along with a sliver of cannoli and some decaf espresso.

THE ITALIAN AMERICAN READER

A COLLECTION

An eclectic, even eccentric collection—poems, fiction, and essays—by Americans of Italian heritage.

Tonelli (The Amazing Story of the Tonelli Family in America, 1994) is a wise guy—not in The Sopranos sense but in the old-fashioned smartass way that must have annoyed his schoolteachers. “If Philip Roth had been one of ours,” he quips, “his grandmother would have chopped him up and buried the pieces under her tomato plants.” This tone pervades the selections as well. Arranged thematically (Home, Mom, Death, etc.), the pieces feature the well known (Don DeLillo, John Ciardi, Jay Parini, Richard Russo, Philip Caputo, Dana Gioia) and the lesser known (Luigi Funaro, Beverly Donofrio, Lucia Perillo, and a host of others). There are also selections by Evan Hunter and Ed McBain, although the editor’s notes do not reveal that they are the same person. Tonelli also neglects to tell us which pieces are fiction, which nonfiction, so readers who wonder will have to research it themselves. Many of the pieces are touching or instructive or fun to read. Ciardi’s poem about his mother is poignant, as is Parini’s about his grandmother. Kim Addonizio contributes a hot little poem about sex, and Pat Jordan writes with emotion about a pool game between him and his 76-year-old father. Ray Romano waxes wise about his unconventional Dad, and John Fante’s excerpt reminds us why we should no longer neglect his wonderful work. Mike Lupica catches us up with former baseball star Tony Conigliaro, whose heart attack sentenced him to a wheelchair. Maria Laurino offers a first-rate memoir about Versace, Armani—and her mother, arbiter of style in Laurino’s youth. Gregory Corso’s poem about baldness will get a laugh: “Best now to get a pipe / and forget girls,” he sighs.

Perfect for the nightstand, along with a sliver of cannoli and some decaf espresso.

Pub Date: March 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-000666-8

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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