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Peter Fortunato
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Grazie mille, Kent and David!
Publishers these days can rarely afford publicity campaigns for their authors, and so I’m “branding” the book and branding its author; that is, being myself and advertising my book without braying like an ass. Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
Not only did I want to preserve certain childhood memories, but in Carnevale I wanted to give voice to the difficulty and the necessity of leaving home: in one way or another we all have to do this if we’re going to claim our own lives. Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
I wrote Carnevale hoping my language would primarily evoke two periods of American history: the first is the 1960s, when so much seemed possible; its counterpoint and contrast is the Great Recession of 2008, when so much felt wasted and bitter truths about art and the art market had to be faced, even within the walls of the academy. The later parts of the novel have many observations to make about painting and photography. (Below is a work of mine, Dance with Me, painted in 2019.) My childhood and adolescence weren’t completely blissful, and my family wasn’t financially well off, but life at a family restaurant and resort in Wappingers Falls often felt theatrical. Furthermore, as a young boy, the Place seemed to me a piece of Italy that had been relocated to the rural Hudson Valley. Like Guido, I’d lived in Italy with my parents for a time, and afterwards I experienced a sense of continuity with life at our restaurant, colorful and replete with drama. A carnival, so to speak, with galas and masquerade balls that I vividly recall. This material is part of my soul, and it’s represented in my poetry collection, Entering the Mountain, which came out in 2017. Those poems are closer to home and more distilled than the episodes narrated in the novel. I was at work on both simultaneously, but I felt free to take liberties with the novel that I didn’t want to indulge in the poetry. Sure, my poems aren’t to be regarded as autobiographical accounts, and yet I decided that Entering the Mountain, a mostly elegiac collection, would memorialize my family members. Carnevale is more celebratory. My feeling while writing it was that I could see some of my family playing the roles of the characters—well, sort of. None of the characters in the novel is a portrait of an actual person. A central event in Guido’s coming of age story is the fantastical masked ball, the Carnevale, or Mardi Gras party, that occurs at the Villa Giustovera. Although it’s fictional, the spirit of the event is true to the setting and characters of my own teenage years. Trite as it might sound today, during the early 1960s everything seemed to change from black and white to color, and I wanted to see those days and taste those highs once more; I wanted to preserve them in fictional amber. The characters and the setting, Guido’s solitary pleasures, his wild imagination, his snake hunting, his careful study of the lounge lizards that shoot craps with his father, his obsession with the Villa’s belle donne, and the psychic lessons imparted by his grandmother and her Tarot, all of these help to make Guido-the-person. The wish to preserve these elements help to make him an artist. (Below is photo taken a mere three weeks ago at a Venetian mask shop) In writing Carnevale I was able to animate aspects of my personal history by stretching them into fiction, largely through the invention of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
Different writers have different ways of trying to describe how characters and their stories come to life, but really it’s rather magical. Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
So I wrote a novel, and it’s just been published: Carnevale. The name means “carnival” and it refers to a gala masquerade party held at the family run, Italian American restaurant of the protagonist’s childhood. Sure, this part is based on my own youth, but no, the book isn’t truly autobiographical. I have mined some of the same material from my Italian heritage before in my poetry, but a novel is different—let me explain. Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Nov 14, 2019