"meticulously crafted stories [that] explode like street racing muscle cars burning rubber in search of dangerous fun, holy nostalgia, impossible love, and the exchange of dreams across the back roads of America." --Paterson Literary Review"...his writing is exquisitely clear and precise. The uncanny, the off-beat, and the incongruous resonate throughout these stories."

--Southern Humanities Review

--winner of the Tartt Fiction Prize  

--winner of the D.H. Lawrence Award

Published by Livingston Press. Available at bookstores and online at and other e-tail outlets

A book cover with a doll laying in the grass.

“These stories, for the most part, are about the young, and the various kinds of loss suffered by the young—which is to say, the loss of innocence at the hands of experience. Those moments when we experience loss are defining moments. They shape character, serve as platforms upon which lives are built. In fascinating, and often painful ways, they expose life’s mysteries. They enrich us.

The settings in this collection are varied: Atlantic City, Key West, upstate New York, the back roads of the South and—for many of the stories—the streets of the Bronx. Place, like loss, is also a transformative force. It lives inside these characters, shapes desire and the actions that derive from desire.”

My brother Massimo, known to everyone except our parents as “Max,” fancied himself a student of the dark side of human nature, an unofficial investigator of the mysteries of the universe. In our East Bronx housing project, he was the neighborhood historian, having won the St. Helena high school history medal four years in a row. He was obsessed with the origin of things, the turning points, the moments of crisis that shaped the lives of heroic or infamous figures in this world’s drama.

He told me once he liked the order history superimposed--illusory, of course, and always in retrospect--on the otherwise random events of our lives. Day to day, he explained, there seems no overall purpose to what we do; but after you die, history steps in and says see, there was a pattern after all, your life did mean something, too bad you couldn’t see it.

From as far back as I can remember he filled me with stories about our section of the Bronx, Orchard Beach and the swamps of Pelham Bay, and the Catholic Protectorate with its wide, grassy lawns that gave way to our housing project in 1940: a “revolutionary” residential community designed to maximize space by clustering twelve- story hi-rise buildings around park-like ovals of trees and grass. On Saturday mornings when he was in junior high, he conducted walking tours around the project, moving from building to building, explaining the mythological significance of the terra-cotta gargoyles that graced our entrance ways or softened the sharp edges of our walls, the winged angels and reclining maidens, the beastly kingdom of bears, lions and eagles that distinguished our housing development from the dozens of other projects throughout the five boroughs.

In the years between 1958 and 1963, Max--who was five years my senior— introduced me to the hidden life of our world...