Ovunque Siamo Press, 282pp
Literary collection of short entwined stories
Each of the twenty-one stories features a child, in-law, grandchild, other denizens of Singer Street, even the neighborhood itself, such as the tale of The Day Nothing Bad Happened. Guiseppa is the fulcrum of the tales, which slowly revolve through nearly a generation timespan, neatly tied with a death on both ends. Marrocco’s command of detail creates 3D pictures without overwhelming the senses. “Timing was everything” isn’t a cliché on Christmas Eve, when a most unusual role reversal occurs and we see tenderness beneath the trigger temper of Guiseppa’s son Nicky, who has little memory of his father. It is “sisters who help their brothers miss what they could not recall,” he thinks. Descriptions such as “Each letter looked like a little tombstone,” and Gramma’s blanket “was an itchy sort of thing, probably picked up on a clearance at Goldbatts’s by someone out shopping for something else entirely,” are amusing and poignant as they work to set the tone.
Guiseppa holds her family tight, a mother who defends her children and grandchildren under any and all circumstances and is held in the utmost esteem to her deathbed. She’s teacher, overseer, confidant, sly; the provider most of them don’t ever fully understand and appreciate. One of my favorite scenes is when Gramma counsels her young grandson John about his confession that he thought about everything and concluded there was no God. The fact that he even reluctantly told Guiseppa while believing he’d shock and mortify her, says so much about the power of her love. Guiseppa works to ensure all of her children stay true to the family, even if it means getting them brides or arranging for adoptions from Sicily. Family feuds, family secrets, family dreams all muddle together in a charming and thoroughly entertaining collection of generational stories wrapped sweet and sour, like pollo in agrodolce.