Sunday, February 24, 2013

Speaking to the Italian Community About my Book, an Experience to Remember

I wanted to share with you of an unexpected literary event that took place today. I was asked by Italian journalist Marco Luciani (who previously interviewed me on an Italian TV show and radio station) to participate in an event at Casa d'Italia, celebrating authors of Italian origin, specifically from the province of Abruzzo. My father is Abbruzzese, and so I was honoured to take part in this event that included Mary Di Michele, a well-known Montreal author and poet who is currently a full professor in the English Department of Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where she teaches in the creative writing program.

Mary Di Michele to the left and me to the right.

Mary Di Michele spoke of her work and read from her novel Tenor of Love published by Simon and Schuster Touchstone (see synopsis below) and also some of her poems, one dedicated to her late father which was very touching. She is such a lovely person and we exchanged signed copies of our books. My daughter bought her poetry book The Flower of Youth.

Me reading the prologue from my novel Daughter of Mine.

I addressed the audience in Italian and spoke of my writing inspiration and of the role Italy played in my novel. I also read from my novel Daughter of Mine. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of selling copies of my book and speaking to interesting persons of the Italian community, among them Connie McParland from Guernica Editions. It was a pleasant evening, and I look forward to reading and reviewing Di Michele's books in the upcoming months. I'm still wowed by the whole experience!

Here are a description of Mary Di Michele's books:

Tenor of Love by Mary Di Michele

One summer day in 1897, a young singer, Enrico Caruso, arrives at the home of the Giachetti family. He has come to Livorno to sing on the summer stage with Ada Giachetti, a famous and beautiful soprano. Ada's mother offers him a spare room, and before Ada herself has a chance to meet the unknown tenor, her younger sister, Rina, arrives home from the market and falls fatefully in love.

With the help of singing lessons from Ada, Caruso wins the leading role in Puccini's new opera La Bohème. Although Caruso loves Rina, it is Ada he adores, and they soon become lovers. Heartbroken, Rina becomes an opera singer too, hoping to take her sister's place. For decades, the two sisters are locked in a struggle to be the star on Caruso's stage and in his bed, while Caruso's voice grows more and more unimaginably beautiful.

But as his relations with the two sisters break down in scandal and tragedy, the now world-famous Caruso builds a new life for himself as the star of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. There, far from the drama and passion of Caruso's Tuscan life, a shy young American woman will win his heart and, taking the greatest leap of faith of all, supplant Ada and Rina as his one true love.

The Flower of Youth by Mary Di Michele

Written as a kind of historical narrative in verse, the poems in this collection depict the coming of age and sexual awareness of the great Italian writer and film director, Pier Paolo Pasolini. The time of this story is World War II; the place is German-occupied northern Italy. Unlike his younger brother, Guido, who took up arms to fight in the resistance, Pasolini chose to help his mother set up a school for the boys too young to fight or be conscripted. The situation ignited an internal war for the young Pasolini that nearly eclipsed the historical moment: a battle within between his desire for boys and his Catholic faith and culture. In addition to the poems that juxtapose Pasolini’s struggle against the backdrop of political and cultural fascism, the book also includes a prologue and an epilogue that details the author’s pilgrimage to the site and her research into the time that shaped Pasolini as a man and as an artist.

A big thank you to Marco Luciani, Mary Di Michele and Casa D'Italia for making this experience one to remember!