THE BOYS OF BENSONHURST: Stories by Salvatore La Puma


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The latest winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, La Puma's book is situated, as the title says, in that mostly Sicilian section of south Brooklyn; the time is immediately before, during, and after WW II; and the boys are locals either headed already for the Army or--biding time until they're drafted--in pursuit of harmless entertainments (New Jersey burlesque theaters, for instance). But, meanwhile, some have become temporary buck privates in that other neighborhood army, organized crime. La Puma, with a fine ear for dialogue and dialect, as well as an equally satisfying prose style, paints lots of nice cameos: the kid in love with the Jewish girl who simply finds it less complicated to sleep also with her Mafioso married lover; the kid involved in a botched theater-robbery; people making ersatz olive oil; others being cured of minor ailments by Sicilian faith-healing; still another suffering the humiliations of buying a suit his mother is lustily haggling over. The stories fly away a little too much, become centered slightly too late in their course--but La Puma is obviously a talent, and much here is as touchingly sharp as an aging Kodak print.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia Press