Through participation and excellence in American sports, Italian immigrants maintained ethnic identity and enabled it to change as they moved from Italians to Americans. In the process they fashioned new American identities while preserving older, useful aspects of Italianitá.
In this book we have not only the realizations of the mythical American dream, but also the failures behind the successes, something that has been missing in traditional histories, especially of Italian America. Every now and then you meet someone from your past and as you recount shared memories you realize there was more to what happened than your perspective; that new knowledge will forever change the way you recall that past. This is what will happen to you when you read Barney Bruno’s collection of memoirs, A Tear and A Tear in My Heart.
Vetere does what he knows best: he takes you into a world that’s familiar, but always in unfamiliar ways. This is the mark of a master.
“A film-like tragicomedy that is part Dickens, part Poe, and part Mel Brooks, but a tale that ends up all Vetere. This is what good writers do; they learn from their predecessors, and then as they work on their craft and develop their skills, they move from imitation to innovation.”
All This Talk of Love: A Novel.
Christopher Castellani takes the immigrant saga well beyond timeworn plots, showing us all that becoming American effects, but doesn’t erase, our being Italian.
“We didn’t go to Italy to sight see. We went so that my mother could visit the family she’d given up to marry my father, who’d emigrated to America after World War II.
We went so that my parents could introduce me to the “real” world—vivid, honest, and unspoiled— and so they could escape the harsh and colorless “new” world.
We went because my mother missed her best friends, her six brothers and sisters, who were still relatively young and very much alive.”
Through Gandolfini's fine talent, Tony Soprano began the move away from that traditional, patriarchal sense of manhood that came from an old European model in which violence and silence could bring and sustain honor. Through his therapy, he began to question the traditional order of things and his roles of husband, father, son, and gangster. And so, in this way he became a 20th century trickster. Society has always needed its tricksters and scapegoats to teach us what happens to those who dare to break taboos and social contracts. In the hands of Italian American artists like Gandolfini, the gangster as trickster did not represent Italian America as much as it presented the last stand for an outdated patriarchy in America.
Saviano is right. Silence is not the answer; protesting dramatic portrayals of mafiosi is not the answer. Italian Americans have spent more time and money fighting fictional mafiosi than they have fighting real mafiosi in their midst.
If you believe that the “Jersey Shore” show of MTV is really gangsters without guns, then you should do something about it. But since when have we become afraid of our youth? Since when has the public behavior of seven 20-something kids been something to pay attention to? This shows that kids don’t really know what it means to be Italian American outside of their family; it also shows that we probably don’t know our kids as well as we think we do. ... So don’t blame MTV; we have failed ourselves.
We may think we have created Italian America, but we have yet to create Italian Americans.
On January 21 (10am) the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute will host a colloquium entitled "Guido: An Italian-American Youth Style." Guest speakers include Professor Donald Tricarico, a sociologist who has been studying the "guido culture" for a number of years, and Mr. Jonny DeCarlo, a self-professed guido and a freelance writer.
Born out of the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” and the subsequent anti-defamation charges by national Italian-American organizations, the colloquium proposes an objective, intellectual investigation of this component of Italian-American youth, which is often ignored or misunderstood.
Some exponents of the Italian-American community have objected to the Calandra Institute holding such colloquium at all, seeing it as a "legitimation" of the guido lifestyle, ultimately playing into the hands of MTV and those whe defame Italian Americans.
Critics have singled out, among others, Fred Gardaphe, Distinguised Professor of Italian American Studies, for supporting the Calandra Institue's initiative and stating in a Time Magazine interview that the wave of negative response to Jersey Shore come from what he calls "irony deficiency" in the Italian-American community.
Here are Professor Gardaphe's responses to his critics and all those who believe in boycotting intellectual investigations.