The Long Italian Goodbye

Robert Benedetti

245 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 1930754663


Language: English

Publish: 1124089200000

The Italian neighborhood surrounding Oakley Avenue on Chicago’s West Side in 1948 is a Tuscan village transplanted from northern Italy thirty years before. Joey is ten, an only child born of the Great Depression, weaned on the lustrous myths of the neighborhood’s gangster past, and reveling in the cooking of his Tuscan grandmothers. This is, for Joey, that special year when boyhood ends, a year of extremes of joy and grief. He earns money by delivering coffee to the black workers in the neighborhood factory, and becomes aware for the first time of the place of black people in his world. During the traditional summer retreat of the neighborhood’s mothers and children to a rural Michigan lakefront town, he experiences the first stirrings of romantic love, but also the numbing pain of the death of his best friend. He comes to doubt the very existence of God, and learns that life is not what he had imagined, that even the joy of a kiss will be forever tinged with mortality. He returns to the city a changed person, his faith shaken but his conscience awakened, and he takes his first small stand against injustice. As the year ends, his family moves away from the old neighborhood and Joey leaves behind its sights, sounds, smells, and people, especially his first love Benita, and a big piece of himself. “Robert Benedetti has written a beautiful first novel. For readers who long for another time when the family table was the center of the world, when being Italian American meant you came from a great place to make a new country greater still, when cultural divides seemed liked impossible rivers to cross and yet some did, this is the story for you. Simple, graceful, filled with humor and love, “The Long Italian Goodbye” is a portrait of a boy growing up in Chicago surrounded by love and the reality of loss. You will laugh and cry, and be very sad to leave the world Mr. Benedetti paints so splendidly.” Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of QUEEN OF THE BIG TIME, COOKING WITH MY SISTERS, BIG STONE GAP I wish to congratulate you on a beautifully written book. It is hard for me to believe that this is your first novel… Joey is described so well that it makes me feel this is real biography… You describe all the people just as well…everyone seems more real than fictitious. I feel Joey’s problems, pain, and love throughout the from his experience on the school grounds, to the death of his grandpa, to his attachment to Benita. Not only do you bring your people to life, but you do the same for the neighborhood where Joey lived his first ten years. –Ernest J. Gaines, Award-winning author of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman, A Lesson Before Dying (Oprah Book Club selection) and A Gathering of Old Men. I loved it! “The Long Italian Goodbye” is charming and honest and totally absorbing. I could see and feel both the characters and the neighborhood. I could almost taste the food. And ahhh, those terrible moments of childhood that we just can’t forget. Joey’s shame and humiliation when he wet his pants. The death of his protector and the way you handled it was quite wonderful. Sad without being maudlin in any way. Just the right tone. –Marilyn Levy, Author of Run For Your Life, The School Story, and Bride of the Wind. Dear Beny, Thank you, thank you, thank you……for the novel, for writing the novel, and for capturing the precious transitions from childhood to adolescence as well as from pre to post WWII life in Chicago. The novel is absolutely delicious!!!!!! and it held all the more poignancy for me on two grounds. First, I have been writing a painful chapter in my personal medical history for the past ten weeks……hence my delay in writing you. It climaxed in a massive attack of rheumatoid arthritis in my hands, which have been useless these past five weeks. Although they are on the mend, I am writing with considerable pain….so be not surprised at an abrupt closur

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