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Ethnic Fiction

The Italian Daze: Notes from a Lost Traveler

This book is a hybrid text. In one sense, it is a collection of stories; but the protagonist is the same throughout and the stories appear in chronological order, so that the book is a kind of fragmented but coherent bildungsroman or romanzo di formazione, as readers watch the protagonist mature, learn from his mistakes, as his many experiences with friends, lovers and acquaintances help him grow in his understanding of Italian Americans, Italian, Italy, and life itself, especially in relation to his own ethnic and national identifications. By following the protagonist, readers may learn what he learns, but they can also keep distance enough to critique what he comes to understand and thereby achieve a richer understanding of themselves.
The protagonist in question is a Jewish American, originally designated almost Kafka-style as M but now renamed as Mel; we follow his Italian American and Italian-related experiences and connections in the course of his life from his early teens to his old age. The book opens with an introduction by a famous Italian critic, Alessandro Carrera. Then comes an invocation—a Jewish awakening to Italian foods, performers, and their like. The core is composed of four parts involving twelve texts, and then a double coda—all materials joining together to cover early loves, travels with an Italian American wife, and then subsequent Italian-American romances and encounters in Italy. With reflections on Jewish-Italian relations, and depictions of key Italian cities and towns, the book includes some of the paradoxes in Italian and Italian American life, as well as the author’s concerns with Italy’s Fascist period, the Holocaust, the mafia, afro-phobia, and recent turns of Italian politics. The text concludes with a double coda, portraying Mel and his three successive wives in a series of demonstrations political and otherwise, as well as a final fantasy of being old and virtually hapless in Rome.

Alternate Titles: Dazed: A Lost Traveler and his Italian Days (or Ways) Or: Lost: A Traveler’s Gaze at Italian Ways (or Days) Read more »

Lines on the Border

Lines on the Border presents twenty short stories dealing with the life and evolution of the protagonist, Ben, a young and confused California-based Jewish American professor, through his interactions with a growing cast of friends, lovers, and family members on and beyond the San Diego-Tijuana border..
Part I, “First Crossings,” presents early visits and relations, mainly dealing with Ben’s troubled first marriage; Part II, “Love & Loss on the Border and Beyond,” mainly deals with Ben’s post-marital searches for love on both sides of the border and further south.
Part II, Two Farewells, deals with Ben’s parents and new Latino friends and the circumstances that cause him to leave the border area. Perfect for fiction lovers and those interested in border themes Read more »

Judicial Indiscretion

The Santa Fé Trail sets the scene for drug running, money laundering, treachery, murder, and challenges to character, as Judicial Indiscretion plays out in the cactus-studded New Mexican Rio Grande Valley landscape.
Following the ritualized murder of a respected judge in Mimbres County, New Mexico, a local attorney, David Madrid, is indicted and arrested for the crime. Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Linda Lawson of The San Diego Times, prevails upon her long time friend Matt Lucas to assist in the defense of David, her brother Read more »

The Jillie Effect

Jillie Lange is a feisty and resourceful 15-year-old who should be at home in St. Louis. Instead, she’s fleeing town on a Greyhound bus with her mother, Ada, along with money and incriminating papers belonging to a crime boss. Arriving in Phoenix, they encounter police detective Luis Faro, a man suffering severe vertigo and mired in guilt resulting from an automobile accident that killed his wife. Assigned to investigate Ada and Jillie, Luis finds himself on a collision course with the revenge fueled mobster at the same time he learns the accident that killed his wife was no accident Read more »