IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT RAVIOLI by Paul Mantee

IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT RAVIOLI

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Herein, memories of an Italian-American childhood starring one Petey Russo, a scrawny kid diligently poring over his Charles Atlas magazines, contemplating the priesthood and what's under his stepmother's skirts. It's just after WW II in a San Francisco where there's still a stage show at the RKO Golden and they're still serving creamed chicken at the Haas Coffee Shop on Market Street. Petey's got a couple of problems, like: ringworm, Catholic guilt, an impossibly noisy family composed of grandmother Nonna and five uncles (""Nard, Balto, Vic, Dino, Charley, and Clo. Some of them were stevedores""), a divorced mom (""...Italian men...they all want to marry virgins...I don't think they make that flavor anymore""), and dad (""Christ, don't get me started""), but, above all, raging hormones. Backseat fumbles with semi-popular girls help on that score, though what Petey really yearns for is a date with Vonnie Cassidy, who knows about ballet and beef stroganoff. Mantee has interspersed these predictable adolescent woes with snippets of Petey's life in the present as a burned-out screenwriter in Hollywood, recently dumped by his girlfriend and striving to re-create Nonna's ravioli from a complicated recipe that includes things like calf brains and Swiss chard. The past and present Peteys aren't tonally different enough, and sticklers will wince at occasional lapses into disingenuousness. But mostly this is charming, plain, old-fun fluff.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1991
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Available Press/Ballantine