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LAST STOP ON THE 6   by Patricia Dunn


by Patricia Dunn

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-59954-173-0
Publisher: Bordighera Press

A woman returns home to New York City and confronts her past in Dunn’s novel.

Theresa Angela Campanosi, a financially strapped, Italian American activist with a “tough-Bronx-girl vibe,” fled to Los Angeles, consumed with guilt over a fateful night of teenage carelessness that left her brother Jimmy paralyzed. Ten years later, when her mother mails her a one-way ticket home for Jimmy’s last-minute wedding, Angela knows something else is up. Her fears are confirmed when she returns to the Bronx to find Jimmy missing—the first in a string of difficulties that brings Angela in contact with various elements from days gone by: her childhood friend Billy, an artist and recovering addict working for Angela’s family’s exterminating business; her alcoholic father, who’s preoccupied with Jimmy’s childhood acting career; a closetful of plastic saints; and an unsavory man called “Fat Freddy” and his thuggish cronies. As seen through Angela’s eyes, the novel paints a portrait of a Bronx where a progressive anti-war activist still needs a “red slut dress” to do a business transaction with neighborhood muscle. Angela soon reveals herself to be an unreliable narrator, however, whose “bulldozing” manner seems to run in the family: Her mother is the queen in a hive of overbearing personalities, fuzzed by clichés but nevertheless complex in their motivations. The characters’ constant bickering, which sometimes feels more scripted than reflective of real life, brings the novel to a head at Billy’s art show, where “creepy-crawlies” take center stage in more ways than one. Set against the backdrop of America’s 1991 involvement in Kuwait and addressing addictions of all kinds, the novel dabbles in moralism but refuses to sacrifice its fast pace to pause for deep reflection. Ultimately, Dunn’s novel is a primer on the strength of family and the frailty of memory and a reminder that the only way we can truly understand those we love is to stop and listen; after all, Dunn reminds us, “forgiveness can’t happen in silence.”

A novel that brings the Bronx to teeming life with a wry marriage of drama and humor.