A PIECE OF EARTH by Kenny Marotta


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Young lovers stumble into Depression-era marriage. . . and epic Italian/American in-law problems--in a wry and affectionate first novel. Leaving the laments of mother Pla and the snarls of father Nino, Agnes Zammataro spends Memorial Day (wailing and picnicking at the cemetery) with the family of her intended, Mike Buonfiglio: kind father Louis; mother Madge, whose arias always return to her martyrdom in caring for her mother Antonia; and Nonna Antonia herself, a glowering ancient of a scorpion disposition--whose future accommodations are a Big Issue shadowing the ups and downs of Agnes and Mike's courtship. (Agnes initially refuses, point-blank, to shelter the old terror.) Meanwhile, Agnes' father Nino, master of the virtuoso insult, rages over his ""whore"" of a daughter--because she refuses to marry his boss' idiot-son, because she leaves home for a small basement apartment. Then, back at the Buonfiglio fortress, there's the arrival of long-lost Uncle Lino, Madge's brother--joyfully welcomed by the family (a potential keeper for Nonna!) while Agnes sees through his surface charm to the gangster-ish ne'er-do-well below. And finally, though Madge and Lino do some ruthless sibling bargaining, it's Nonna herself who quietly decides her own future. . . with help from bride Agnes, awakened by Nonna's tales of immigrant survival. An ethnic sparkler with some refreshingly acerbic undertones: a modestly engaging debut.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1985
Publisher: Morrow