Among the many reviewers praising Chris Castellani for his 2013 novel All This Talk of Love was New York Times Book Review contributor Maria Russo who referred to the cold shoulder even a prominent Italian-American author like Gay Talese would receive from the publishing world. "No Italian-American writer has achieved the popular stature of a Scorcese or a Sinatra," Russo quotes Talese as saying, adding that Castellani, through his character Frankie, who hopes to make it as an author, has "elegantly captured the essence of Talese's argument" in his final installment of the trilogy about the Italian-American immigrant experience.
Castellani, a South End resident who also is a director of Boston's non-profit creative writing center, Grub Street, has spent fourteen years dissecting the Grassos' hopes and dreams. Loosely based on his own experience as a son of Italian immigrants growing up in Wilmington, Delaware, the first book in the trilogy, A Kiss from Maddalena (2003) won the 2004 Massachusetts Book Award; the second, The Saint of Lost Things (2005) was a BookSense (IndieBound) Notable Book. "I wanted to dramatize traditional village life in the first novel, the lives of hard-working immigrants and the husband and wife in an arranged marriage in the second, and the family tensions between tradition and modernity in the third," Castellani told an interviewer for Psychology Today. "I started writing about the Grasso family in 1999, and over the past fourteen years they’ve been the best companions a writer could ask for: inspiring, vexing, challenging, hilarious, faithful, tender, complex, sometimes elusive, surprising and, of course, always loving. They are my other Italian family, and it will be very hard to let them go. My guess is that, when I do, I will be just as nostalgic for them as they have been for their home."
Castellani is on the faculty of the Warren Wilson MFA program and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. He was educated at Swarthmore College, received his Masters in English Literature from Tufts University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University.
The event is sponsored by FOSEL and, thanks to your contributions, free. We offer refreshments. The author’s books will be available for purchase and borrowing. The library is fully handicapped accessible thanks to FOSEL’s fundraising. The library is located on Tremont Street between West Newton Street and Rutland Square. Seating is limited so come early.
Tuesday, February 25:
Michael Lowenthal, novelist, short-story writer, editor and teacher of creative writing,will read from his most recent The Paternity Test, which describes the voyage of a gay couple trying to save a marriage by having a baby. His previous work includes Charity Girl and The Same Embrace. During Lowenthal’s valedictorian speech at Dartmouth College in 1990, he revealed he was gay, prompting The Dartmouth Review to editorialize that he had ‘ruined the ceremony.’ The New York Times reported he received a standing ovation, however, so all was not lost.
Tuesday, March 18:
Max Grinnel, otherwise known as The Urbanologist. Grinnell’s focal point is the urban condition. He teaches at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Boston University, where he helps students learn about urbanism, architecture, planning, and related topics.
Tuesday, April 8:
Poet Colin D. Halloran, who served with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in 2006. A former public school teacher, Colin works with students and teachers to find ways in which poetry can inform the media’s and historians’ portrayals of war. His debut collection of poems, Shortly Thereafter, won the 2012 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award.
Tuesday, April 29:
Anita Shreve, award-winning author of numerous books of fiction, including the international bestseller The Pilot’s Wife. which was made into a movie of the same name and was an Oprah Book Club selection. Her new novel, Stella Bain, has just come out to excellent reviews in the Boston Globe.
Tuesday, May 20:
South End author Wendy Wunder (The Probability of Miracles) will return to talk about her latest novel, due out in April 2014, called The Museum of Intangible Things.
Tuesday, June 10:
William Landay, award-winning author of crime fiction including the New York Timesbestseller Defending Jacob, The Strangler and Mission Flats.