This week’s other featured books, “A Case for the Dead Letter Detective,” by Lori Brack, and “Hard Toward Home,” by C.D. Albin, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.
THE BOOK: At Home in the New world.
PUBLISHED IN: 2018.
THE AUTHOR: Maria Terrone.
THE EDITOR: Anthony Tamburri, press founder and publisher.
THE PUBLISHER: Bordighera Press is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to the literature and scholarship of and about the cultures of Italy and its diasporas. Since 1989, the press has published works spanning award-winning poetry and prose to groundbreaking scholarship and research.
SUMMARY: At Home in the New World begins with two essays from my childhood (Italian American, Catholic) and goes on to explore the anxieties and obsessions of my life, as well as the personal meaning of my Southern Italian heritage. I write about the people who strongly influenced me, including my parents and, perhaps surprisingly, WWII-era men like my father and veterans in general. I’m a proud, native New Yorker and so its locations and urban flavor figure prominently. At Home in the New World describes how I’ve come to feel a sense of belonging and connection despite the vast changes in my city. On a personal note, I’m basically a serious person, but I like to think that I’m not afraid to write about subjects such as gloves and shoes that might seem superficial at first glance. They aren’t, and I enjoy exploring these obsessions with both humor and attention to historical research. At Home in the New World was a Finalist for the 2019 Eric Hoffer Book Award.
THE BACK STORY: I didn’t realize I had the possibility of a book until I saw that over a period of about four years, I’d written and published a good number of mostly memoir-type essays. Reviewing them, themes began to emerge. And so, the book is divided into five sections. “Hide and Seek” focuses on some mysteries I’ve encountered. The opening essay, “Mystery, Menace, and Early Sorrow,” was named a Notable Essay in the Best American Essays 2019, and centers on my first witnessing, as a child in the hospital, what I considered adult evil. Other sections: “Obsessions,” which includes such topics as my CPA-brother’s surprising fixation on guns and mine on gloves and cooking; “The Italian Thing,” about trying to investigate my heritage, especially the buried secrets related to parents of the Sicilian grandfather I never knew; “At Work: Factories and Fifth Avenue,” on my various jobs, from supermarket cashier to typing veterans’ psychiatric reports as a teenager to working at a Manhattan beauty company, and finally, “From New York to the World,” a section that explores my relationship to my city over the years.
WHY THIS TITLE? “At Home in the New World” is the title of the last, culminating essay in the book. My city is an ethnically diverse, international hub almost unrecognizable from the mid-twentieth century place where I grew up as a baby boomer. At Home in the New World is ultimately my way of coming to grips with the new, more complex but ultimately more interesting reality. And perhaps because of my Italian American roots, the title essay focuses on food as the great unifier.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? My book is both intensely personal but also touches on universal themes: family; the human need for connection; the individual in a changing society; the effects of war. It also includes humor in unexpected places and lyricism because, as a poet, I like to find beauty in the ordinary—I can happily meditate on a favorite, falling-apart cookbook. Potential readers: those interested in New York City, past and present; those drawn to the perspective of a baby-boomer; readers interested in things Italian American; readers who enjoy lyrical prose writing and poetry.
“I love this collection of essays by Maria Terrone…Subtly crafted, witty, honest, it brings to life a New York one instantly recognizes: an international city, ranging from the factories of Long Island City to a Fifth Avenue beauty company to shooting ranges to Catholic schools. A world where a woman might lose herself in preparing foods from many countries to dreaming of fashionable clothes and out-of-this world watches and shoes, while taking those graffiti-soaked subways to summer jobs in New York’s cubicles and windowless offices. All of it memorably realized here on page after page in a language which only really fine poets can evoke, realizing for us, her lucky readers, a world shared in truth by so many of us.” — Paul Mariani, author of The Whole Harmonium: The Life of Wallace Stevens.
“This is a fascinating collection of essays, driven mostly by Terrone’s sense of wonderment and curiosity about the world around her…Terrone has the power to pick the reader up and transplant them into her world. Her prose is skilled, shifting between light and dark but always with the power to make even the most mundane activities seem magical.” — —Jane Wright, Litro.
“Reading Terrone’s essays, filled with honesty and vulnerability, I began to feel fortunate for the chance to know her; I felt like I was making a new friend…with exquisitely detailed recollections, Terrone brings to life the people she worked with, revealing her belief in a shared humanity as she does so.” —Elly Hong, The Common.
AUTHOR PROFILE: In the early years of my career, I worked as a journalist, magazine editor and in corporate communications. In 1990, I joined the City University of New York, first as director of public relations for Hunter College and later, after moving to Queens College, as the head of its communications operation. But from my earliest childhood, I wrote poetry, putting it into a draw. It was only after I worked at Hunter that I summoned up the courage to show my poems to a few poets on the faculty, and they urged me to take my talent seriously. And so I did, reading literary magazines and the works of contemporary poets I admired. I began to have my poems accepted by POETRY magazine and other journals. Over time, three of my full-length collections were published. There is a lot of information about me and my work, with excerpts, on my website http://www.mariaterrone.com. More recently, I found how enjoyable it is to write essays—I can write lyrically, but much more expansively in prose, which is very satisfying.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: Some years ago, my Italian heritage had little bearing on my work. But as my ethnic self-awareness grew, my writing changed. At Home in the New World recognizes the journey of so many who’ve come to America, and my own coming of age in my evolving city. I believe this book has particular relevance today. In her review for At the Inkwell, Kait Burrier writes: “This collection arrives at precisely a time when America’s interest in immigration is piqued…it has the potential to spark conversations on the many ways people find themselves at home in the ever-changing new world that is America.”
SAMPLE CHAPTER: Go to amazon.com. Under Books, type Maria Terrone. At Home in the New World will be my first book listed. Click on the image and then click “Look Inside” at left to view table of contents and samples of writing.
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