Friday, January 01, 2021

Twenty years @ Twenty-one closes with Laura at the Library

The Ghosts of Italy's in the stack!

At the very close of twenty years of adventures at 21 via Fontana I found THIS image on Laura at the Library’s Instagram feed; The Ghosts of Italy in her latest book stack.

The Ghosts of Italy (2016) is in extraordinary company here, in 2020 — stacked with a host of recently celebrated (traditionally published) authors: Douglas Stuart's Booker Prize winning novel, Shuggie Bain, Katherin May's, Wintering, and US Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway's Memorial Drive. 👀

Laura at the Library and I have shared the same tastes in books on her feed before and have had a bit of fun with the wide-eyes emoji...👀 But this list, this stack has me speechless.

Seeing The Ghosts of Italy included with these books in Laura's reading stack made *perennially challenged* 2020 go out with a certain literary flourish for this indie author. This may only be the beginning — Laura hinted Still Life With Saints is up next. Please stay tuned.


The Ghosts of Italy was a Library Journal curated selection for the Indie Author Project (IAP) Commercial Collections Memoirs Program for Queens Public Library and Garden City Public Library, New York.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas from via Fontana

Auguri di buon natale from Calitri — quiet and surreal.

As Italy is on full lockdown over these two holiday weekends, no family gatherings—a tough request for Italians, in this toughest of years, this morning is the quietest I have ever heard in Calitri. It feels like the world has shut down—not just the town, or the country. Much quieter than before...

As Italian Presidente del Consiglio Giuesppe Conte said in his Christmas address, 
“Un natale diverso, ma non meno autentico.”

Yet — This year has brought so much extraordinary creativity to light over all social media that it hardly seems we were alone at all. I feel particularly fortunate to have met my goal of publishing Still Life With Saints, with the help of my global team (!) of book and website designer Doug da Silva and editor Elen Turner who both worked virtually with patience and confidence. Very thankful for it and grateful for them, and all of you.

Merry Christmas from via Fontana.
May 2021 bring us all new hope and dreams.




 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Book Review: STILL LIFE WITH SAINTS

Still Life With Saints is a sequel to the 2016 The Ghosts of Italy, and continues the journey Angela Paolantonio began in her first memoir of her old country Italian family roots.  In this continuation, she moves from Los Angeles to the village of Calitri, where Italian women take her under their wings and help her explore her heritage.

There she continues her life and discoveries, transporting readers into a life journey that captures the village's culture, nuances, and sights and sounds with lovely descriptive passages: "How do I feel when I have to leave the place that is now running in my veins? I am lost. To walk the village each day is to walk within an Alan Lomax recording. The sights and sounds are authentic, the traditions deep and true. They are in the pastoral lilt of women’s voices in summer, heard from behind a beaded doorway, or men’s acapella singing in a grotto in winter, the tufa stone acting as a natural acoustic enhancer. I am transported by their longing..."

The introduction, in which she returns from a Christmas holiday in that village to feel newly lost in her Los Angeles environment, will feel quite familiar to any who have journeyed to another place, only to find its lure more powerful than the abode they once called home.

As Still Life With Saints returns to that world and explores it more fully and deeply, readers are transported by discoveries that lead to inevitable change: "One thing rang true and had been coming on for some time: the more I found myself embedded in the traditional ways of her old village—a novice to the slow-cultured pious life of the bundled women on via Fontana—the more I wanted to return to it, to live it."

Too many memoirs about such journeys gloss over the real day-by-day challenges of cultural transformation. One of the strengths to this account is that it pulls no punches, but delves right into that process: "The everyone’s fantasy of “living in Italy” was quickly dispelled by the culture shock and differences of this world to mine, or even to what Americans think as Italian life. Los Angeles’ Mulholland Drive to the Centro Storico and the legend of water; from the fountains of via Fontana to the Colorado River and the engineering feat of bringing water to the village and Los Angeles, religious, pagan, and all in between the challenges of living here then. No American shower was the least of it in my new, two-room stone house. There was no heat, no landline, no internet, no TV or radio, up to love loss and reverse immigration consequences. Leaving not the village but the USA behind."

The result is a powerful survey of family roots, national ties, and the journey Angela Paolantonio embarks on as she moves between two very different worlds; one of them both familiar and alien at the same time.

From myths and legends to romance and a form of 'reincarnated soul journey', Still Life With Saints proves even more captivating than its haunting predecessor The Ghosts of ItalyIt's a top recommendation as a powerful memoir both for prior readers and newcomers interested in cross-cultural encounters and life changes. 

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review



Wednesday, October 28, 2020

STILL LIFE WITH SAINTS | Tutti i santi e morti



Angela Paolantonio is the author of THE GHOSTS OF ITALY (2016).

In her new book, STILL LIFE WITH SAINTS (2020), she trades Mulholland Drive for via Fontana to live in the house where her Italian spirit was born, on a magical lane among the women of the village who take her under their wing and into their lives. 

Call it magic, serendipity, or maybe a dispatch from a past life Angela is compelled to listen and act on her inner voice. In her sequel to The Ghosts of Italy she's no longer out of her league. Italian folklore rules her days. STILL LIFE WITH SAINTS the song of her nights.

STILL LIFE WITH SAINTS
 Italian Adventures of Magical Spirit  

December 2020. All Stores.