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Don't Tell Mama!: The Penguin Book of Italian American Writing Paperback – October 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Five years ago, A. Kenneth Ciongoli and Jay Parini brought out the first collection of writing on the Italian-American experience, Beyond the Godfather. This year, in time for Columbus Day, comes this hefty, exhaustive anthology. Barreca, author of A Sitdown with the Sopranos and They Used to Call Me Snow White... but I Drifted, selected and edited these essays by more than 90 influential Italian-American writers. Following Barreca's introduction is a witty piece by her brother Hugo, who offers his impression of Italian-American storytelling: "it was considered to be telling close to the truth... if what you reported as your own actions had actually happened to somebody at one time or another." No such collection would be complete without selections from Gay Talese's Unto the Sons, Barbara Grizzuti Harrison's Italian Days, Mario Puzo's The Godfather and Pietro di Donato's Christ in Concrete, considered to be the first great Italian-American novel. In "Food and Fatalism," Wally Lamb offers his recollections of growing up in Norwich, Conn.; in a selection from Were You Always an Italian?, Maria Laurino makes sense of such dialect words as "stunod," or idiot. Barreca also includes great writers who don't necessarily write about the immigrant experience, such as Carole Maso, Don DeLillo and Evan Hunter. This is an introduction not just to great Italian-American writing but to great literature.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Spanning Italian American writing by 90 authors since 1800, this anthology consists of essays, poems, and fiction and nonfiction excerpts. The authors included range from the well known (e.g., David Baldacci, Don DeLillo, Evan Hunter, Ray Romano) to those many readers will be unfamiliar with, including a fair number of academics. Although most of the pieces are reprints, several authors have contributed original pieces; most notable are Wally Lamb's "Food and Fatalism" and Josephine Hendin's "Who Will You Marry Now?" Editor Barreca's (They Used To Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted) introduction and her brother's counterintroduction are informative and personal. They also consider the unifying theme of the works included the transforming nature of the immigrant experience and the resulting need to craft communities. In the end, this is a mixed bag: a bit academic for public libraries and a bit too popular for academics. There are not many books of similar scope, but Bill Tonelli and Huston Smith's The Portable Italian-American: The Landmark Collection of the Best Italian-American Writing is coming from Morrow in March. Interest in Italian Americans is high, so buy as warranted. Neal Wyatt, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 545 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014200247X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142002476
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #950,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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I can relate to backgrounds and the lives of those Italians and Italian Americans who have contributed so much to the American Dream -- BUT NOT WITHOUT STRUGGLE and heartfelt angst. But, what immigrants haven't faced hurdles and misconception?

Then there are the good times and successes that make these stories and poems worth digesting.

Ciao and Chow.
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By Ty on August 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you enjoy stories about Italian American's you won't be able to put down Gina Barreca's anthology. A notably missing work is a recent book that probably would have been represented had it been around in 2002 - Amatore Mille's ELEVEN DAYS IN AUGUST - a heartwarming memoir about a Wall Street sales executive who "vacations" from his NY job each year to rejoin his Italian family in their Italian sausage sandwich business at the Wisconsin State Fair - a must-read for lover's of Barreca's book!
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Format: Paperback
Once again Gina Barreca wows the reader with a wonderful book by a talented author who does beautiful anthologies as well. She finds the reality, the humor and the depth in any situation. Those who love her writing should check out "They Used to call me snow white, but I drifted" "The Penguin Book of Women's Humor" "Too Much of a Good Thing is Wonderful" and the Washington Post Magazine where once a month she and Gene Weingarten do a column together. They are publishing a book together in 2003 that will also be great.
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By A Customer on March 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
Into a medium sized book add: a little under one hundred Italian American writers spanning an almost equal number of years, a liberal amount of humor and irony, chopped up tragedy, mixed with redemption, olive oil (of course!), and finally one terrific editor (Gina Barreca). One need not stir liberally as the contents tend to mix and mingle well on their own. What do you get?
The most complex and multifaceted Italian American anthology that anybody has ever cooked up. Bravo!
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One, of the best books I have read so far this year, wish I could read more books like this one!
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