Against a backdrop of Immigration, Prohibition, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the new millennium, the Verbicaro family make their way from Southern Italy to San Francisco to the Yucatan, finding ways to reinvent themselves as each of them brushes up against some aspect of the divine, or the profane. The family matriarch, Rosari, is a little girl whose family flees Italy because her prodigality is exploited by illiterate kidnappers. When she and her father reach San Francisco, she meets the man she ll marry, a handsome, fiercely strong peasant named Giuseppe Verbicaro. Rosari and Giuseppe s oldest son, Narciso, a handsome and dim-witted dandy, barely evades disaster by his simple-minded innocence and luck. His passionate brother Ludovico, a talented third-baseman in the old San Francisco minor leagues, falls prey to the illicit dreams of a wise guy from the Gambino family. Their youngest brother, Joe, a brilliant child and shrewd businessman, is ashamed of his ethnicity and, in particular, his father, in part because Giuseppe, wandering North Beach, believes that God directs him to marry a teenage, pregnant Mexican prostitute named Maria. Further senility, faith, or vermouth convinces the old man that Maria s child, Jesus, is the product of an immaculate conception. The event is both a family disgrace and a bizarre blessing. The child s life and death have a profound effect on Giuseppe s progeny, particularly Joe s children: Penelope, who flees the country following involvement in deadly anti-Vietnam War activities, and her brothers Paulie and Angelo, who are inspired by the young Jesus to embark upon a quest of several thousand miles to heal old wounds and recover the family s lost, but most-prized spiritual treasures.
Used availability for John Addiego's The Islands of Divine Music
October 2008 : USA Hardback