Don’t Tell Mama!

Dont Tell MamaBarreca, Regina. Ed. Don’t Tell Mama! The Penguin Book of Italian American Writing. New York: Penguin. 2002.

I like reading anthologies in between the longer stuff. It makes both books read faster, if that makes sense. Don’t Tell Mama! is a mix of stuff it takes me forever to read and the stuff I could read all day. True to days of our lives, some stories are better than others. One of my favorite stories was from Louise DeSalvo, from Vertigo. It’s a simple story about bringing a man home for dinner and having reason to be angry at mom. Looking back on the scene, Louise says “If I could do that night over, I would remember these things and I would look across the table at my mother and say, Thank you. Thank you very, very much” (p 140). It touched me because there have been many times in my life when I’ve tried to please someone and thought my mother was playing the fool, going overboard to the point of embarrassing. Now, I realize she was nervous for me; wanted the best for me; anxiousness led to exaggeration. Another quote that hit home for me was, “self-loathing became my second skin” from Mary Saracino’s Ravioli & Rage story (p 488). Been there, done that. Or. “So whenever I was being chased, I’d head straight for the library. The library became my asylum, a place where I could go crazy and be myself without my family finding out” from Fred Gardaphe’s The Italian-American Writer: An Essay and an Annotated Checklist (p 222).
But, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are stories of humor, too. Chris Mellie Sherman’s story, “How to Marry an Italian-American Man” (p 496) is better described as what to do with him once you’ve landed an Italian-American husband. It’s damn funny and worth reading outloud to your spouse, Italian descent or not.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust chapter simply called “Italian American Writers” (p132).

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