Picano expands on the autobiographical essays of his previous book, True Stories (2011).

In this sequel, Picano reflects on family, relationships and the various cities of his past, most notably New York, where he was active in the pre- and post-Stonewall gay community of lower Manhattan. There, he took part in “ad-hoc vigilante protection squads” for gay men, enjoyed a bourgeoning literary community and frequented the seediest bars of Greenwich Village. Picano also examines in depth his relationship with his older brother, Bob. Like Picano, Bob was gay, but unlike Picano, he was struggling financially, addicted to drugs and most likely HIV-positive. In light of this, Picano revisits the tension in his early family life and his father’s “plan for feudalizing his sons” as well as his mother’s favoring the older boy above all else. These tensions forced Picano to eventually run away from home—he “led the exodus out of Queens and into Manhattan”—and perhaps to his becoming the more successful brother. This sense of success shows in Picano’s prose, as his narration can be melodramatic and boastful. He casually name-drops literary superstars such as Michel Foucault or hints at the celebrities he might have kissed in dark restaurants. He also lists the glamorous places he’s visited and the fabulous apartments he’s inhabited. But Picano keeps his stories from feeling too overindulgent through brief, carefully reconstructed moments that expertly reveal character and complex dynamics. The bittersweet last words of his soul mate or the whole of the collection’s best piece, “The ‘Nick’ Diaries,” in which his brief journal entries relate a confusing pseudo-romance with a straight man in LA—it’s in these moments that Picano’s stories become the most engaging. His writing is most moving when he’s reflecting on AIDS and HIV, a theme that connects each story and has affected so many people in his life. “When I first moved to L.A.,” he writes, “people here, eager or pleased to know me, always asked why I had moved so relatively late in life. ‘Everyone died,’ I told them.”

An intensely personal collection centered on the survivor of a fascinating, chaotic time.

Pub Date: June 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1937627157

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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