This book’s characters, and their neighborhood, will stay with readers long after they finish it.


Sgambati’s debut novel, set in New York City in the mid-2000s, celebrates a father’s fierce love for his son.

Lenny Lasante had been accepted to Columbia University, but when his father suddenly died, he dutifully took over the family’s market in Queens and his dad’s role in it. He’s now a hardworking single father who desperately hopes that his own son, Frankie, will have a better life and, above all, get out of the neighborhood. Lenny’s chief worry is Big Vinny DiCico, his childhood pal who’s now a mobster. Frankie’s best friend happens to be Vinny’s son, Gennaro; in fact, they’re lovers. The narrative kicks into high gear after someone kills Gennaro; he did so to get revenge on other members of the DiCico family, who’d killed his cabdriver father. Later, Lenny makes contact with Frankie’s mother, who’d abandoned them years ago, and Frankie becomes a writer. Sgambati is a debut novelist but a much-published short story writer who’s won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize, among other awards, and his experience shows. The recurring motif of escape begins with the very first sentence, when snails—an Italian delicacy—try to sneak out of a sack in Lenny’s market; later in the book, Frankie sets them free. Dualities abound, contrasting Lenny and Big Vinny, Frankie and Gennaro, and Glenhaven in Queens and Taormina in Sicily. The past and present come poignantly alive in Frankie’s fevered dream—practically a prose poem—featuring him and Gennaro as young lovers a century ago. However, the prose isn’t all lyrical in style, as these lines delightfully testify: “Tootsie gave Mrs. Greco a puckered smile and a nod, as if she were forcing empathy through a sphincter.”

This book’s characters, and their neighborhood, will stay with readers long after they finish it.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77183-306-6

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Guernica World Editions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?


This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet