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A Safe Place: The True Story of a Father, a Son, A Murder Hardcover – January 4, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1st edition (January 4, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679402829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679402824
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,014,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The author, a journalist and television editor, grew up on the mean streets of New York City's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s. He adored his violent, abusive father until, at age 14, he learned that the older man had murdered his first wife. This memoir recounts Carcaterra's discovery of his parents' history, an unrelieved litany of brutal, pathological acting-out by his father, contrasted with the strange compliance of his long-suffering mother, who never left her husband. While it offers few explanations for Carcaterra pere 's behavior or the author's success in escaping a childhood hell, this is a heartfelt, vivid tale with an agonizing denouement--even on his father's deathbed, Carcarterra could not say he loved him. Of interest to selected popular audiences and collections on domestic violence and ethnic studies.
- Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By OMalleycat on January 5, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read and enjoyed Carcaterra's Sleepers and followed it up with a reading of this book. I found the contrast between the two books startling.
Carcaterra has chosen to write from a first person point of view, which is certainly appropriate in a memoir. But he doesn't follow through with the conventions and limitations of this POV. He constantly gives information that he, as the narrator and a character within the story itself, could not possibly have witnessed. If he learned these facts and anecdotes by being told by someone else (as he must have), he needs to acknowledge that with "as she told me" or some similar explanation. I was repeatedly pulled out of the story by thinking, "<snort> Now HOW could he know that?"
Further, I was deeply disturbed by the loving detail lavished on descriptions of every beating Carcaterra's mother ever took from his father. I don't need repetitious blow-by-blow descriptions to understand that the abuse was constant and long-lived. I was a little sickened by what appeared to be relishing of recounting the horrors.
Finally, as was mentioned by a previous reviewer, I was bothered by the contention in this book that Carcaterra's entire life was unutterably changed by being told in adolescence of his father's crime. By my calculation, this revelation must have come shortly after Carcaterra was released from his time in a juvenile detention center (as depicted in Sleepers), where he suffered horrific abuse. No mention is made anywhere in A Safe Place of the dear friends described in Sleepers, nor of the crime, trial, and sentence that all went through together. This redoubles the doubt of the accounting of this part of Carcaterra's life. Is one book true and the other false?
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By John on March 1, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although I enjoyed this book, especially the harrowing and sometimes amusing descriptions of life in Hell's Kitchen, I was disappointed that the part of Carcaterra's life which must have had the greatest effect on him, his experience in the boys' home, described in 'Sleepers', was not even mentioned. Even the close friends he has in his 'Sleepers' account do not feature at all, which makes one wonder how factual their existence is and how credible that whole story is (although I'm sure he wasn't making it all up).
Caracterra attributes the change in his personality to the discovery that his father is a murderer, but surely the experiences in the boys' home had just as negative and life-changing an effect on him.
The story of Lorenzo's life is told well, with interesting parallels between his father's and mother's first marriages - I like the way they were juxtaposed.
I found his hero-worshipping of his father, even before he knew of his murderer status, rather strange, as it just didn't ring true that a child so abused would still love his father - maybe this is just my poor understanding of their relationship.
Ultimately, this is a worthwhile read, although not quite as gripping as 'Sleepers'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ryan the Lamanite on October 23, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I started off the book really enjoying it. I really like Carcaterra as an author and both Gangster and Sleepers are among my favorite stories. I enjoyed this book to a point but found myself cringing at the brutal discriptions of violence when his father was beating and sometimes raping his mother. I guess there was honestly a point where I ended up not wanting to live this life with him and subsequently not want to finish the book either. (Although I did finish it.) Carcaterra is a gifted writer insomuch as he uses his powers for good. I would have liked to see more of a connection to the Sleepers saga. I was disappointed that he never got around to connecting the dots between the two points in his life. C'est la vie! Good read if you arent looking for a extension of Sleepers and don't mind the brutal discriptive spousal abuse that occurs every other page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 1, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is truly a work of art...not in the traditional sense. Carrcatera tells the mazing story of his early life in a novelized fashion that grips from the beggining. He captures the lower east side atmosphere amazingly and keeps the reader riveted. In a sense, this is a perfect companion to Angela's Ashes. Roger Mayweather won the WBA Jr Lightweight Title in 1983 by KOing Samuel Serrano in the 8th round.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kristin Michalec on March 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The fact that this book is about his own life makes you feel the author and everything he has to say. This WAS his life, and all the details he writes makes you feel it even more just knowing that he didn't just write it, he lived it! The book is semi-reptative, but the descriptions are good. The book was hard to put down, but some parts got me thinking of my own family... Very good book, would reccomend!!! A+++++
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gypsy Wife on August 24, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Safe Place is not a book I would have chosen to read or even finish had it not been the selection for my reading group at work. The graphic violence is disturbing, and I might have put the book down because of it. I'm glad I didn't. I don't know whether this book and Sleepers are true, but I know this one is very well crafted with the exception of a little descriptive repetition here and there. The insight into the life of immigrants in Hell's Kitchen, and into the mindset of a wife who withstands years of beatings were worth the pain of reading about those beatings. What's truly interesting is that I refuse to watch The Sopranos or any other "mob" stories because I'm just bored with the whole Mafia scene. But here I was listening to great dialogue that sounded just like Tony Soprano, and understanding possibly why my significant other and millions were fascinated by that series.

Carceterra has a gift for authentic dialogue and a style that flows smoothly without being so smooth you forget what he's saying. He includes rich atmospheric detail that puts you there with the characters. He shows you what his life was like, what the times were like, without resorting to pop psychology or trite explanationv -- "You wanna know me? This is me."
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