An affecting portrait of an artistically gifted family.

Maestro Satriano

DeAngelo’s (Germs on Our Mind, 2005) debut historical novel follows the tempestuous life of a brilliant Italian musician.

Forlorn after his wife dies during childbirth, Antonio Satriano decides to temporarily leave his five children in Italy with relatives and start a new life in 1882 America. A music professor and a composer, he lands in New York City with the intention of finding work and sending for his kids after three years. Meanwhile, his son, Pietro, establishes a reputation for himself as a virtuosic cornet player back in Italy and is awarded a professorship at Milan’s Royal Academy of Music. He soon leaves behind a promising career to meet his father in Kansas City, Missouri. Pietro does achieve considerable recognition for his musical prowess, but he repeatedly tarnishes his celebrity with public scandal: his first marriage quickly ends in divorce, and his second is to a mentally unstable 15-year-old. That relationship also ends—but only after Pietro finds himself in jail as a result of a raucous domestic dispute and is humiliated in open court. He weds a third time but later crashes an automobile while chauffeuring his mistress about town. Pietro is also preoccupied with vigilantly responding to his father’s growing alcoholism. Antonio’s problem becomes so ungovernable that his sons are reduced to burying his instruments so he can’t pawn them to buy more gin. DeAngelo tells the family’s story from multiple first-person perspectives: Pietro’s; his third wife, Musa’s; and Antonio’s. She clearly has a deep affection for her characters—Antonio and Pietro are representations of her real-life great-great-grandfather and great-great-uncle, respectively—and she draws them sympathetically. At the same time, she never shies away from presenting an unvarnished depiction of their foibles. Also, she provides an illuminating window into the venomous prejudices that Italian immigrants faced in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Overall, it’s a touching, often comic tale of cultural identity, passion, and artistic inspiration.

An affecting portrait of an artistically gifted family. 

Pub Date: June 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-71663-2

Page Count: 200

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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