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The Islands of Divine Music by John Addiego {An Excerpt}

The Islands of Divine Music by John Addiego {An Excerpt}

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Published by UnbridledBooks
The Islands of Divine Music is a novel of five generations of an Italian-American family finding its place in the New World. Against a backdrop of Immigration, Prohibition, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the new millennium, five generations of the Verbicaro family make their way from Southern Italy to San Francisco as each character brushes up against some aspect of the divine.
The Islands of Divine Music is a novel of five generations of an Italian-American family finding its place in the New World. Against a backdrop of Immigration, Prohibition, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the new millennium, five generations of the Verbicaro family make their way from Southern Italy to San Francisco as each character brushes up against some aspect of the divine.

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Publish date: Oct 1, 2008
Added to Scribd: Mar 27, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/21/2013

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A ROSE IN THE NEW WORLD
Rosari
 
S
ome came from the bottom of the boot to find a new life when theirswas unbearable, and some whispered the word
 America
over and over among their prayers and sought to present themselves new before Godin a new world. Rosari left Southern Italy and set sail into the unknownfor an additional reason: in order to escape prosecution for her prodigality.Her father, Lazaro Cara, was a gentle man, and some would say hewas too gentle. When his wife left him he gave up the chase after aweek of weeping and lugging his children from village to village in thehilly south of Italy. Rosari’s mother was a beautiful woman with wildlysad eyes, with thick black curls which played across her cheeks evenwhen she tried to keep them bound in a scarf. She dropped the wash inRosari’s arms one day, put on her nicest dress, and left. Friends andfamily lent her father a jackass and a shotgun, but he looked sillyholding the firearm in his arms like a baby wrapped in bunting. He wept,and Rosari and her older sister wept, and they walked from town totown with the jackass and ate cold potatoes and handouts fromstrangers and milk from their nanny goat, then returned home.Lazaro returned to his vocation, which was cutting the hair of themerchants and land barons and gossips in Reggio Calabria. Word camethat his wife had run off with a man named Gulia. Then word was she’ddumped Gulia, or there had never been a Gulia, or that a fat butcher named Benedetti in Napoli, who already had a wife and seven children,was keeping her as a mistress, or that she had been seen amonggypsies singing at a saint’s-day fair near Eboli. Then a cholera epidemichit, and the stories about his wife got swept out the doorway with thehair and were replaced by stories of death.The disease took the life of Rosari’s cousin Paolo and a newbornneighbor named Gino Emilio Ravetto. Lazaro had little work and lessmoney, the village had more activity in the cemetery with its ornatecrypts and sepulchres than it did in its piazza, so, two years after hiswife had left them, he and Rosari and Claudia rode a freight train toNapoli, a crowded, filthy, dangerous place. Maybe they were going to
 
 
beg her mother to come back from the butcher, Rosari thought, maybethey were looking for people who still cared about the condition of their hair, or maybe they were simply taking their grief to the open road asthey had when her mother had left. They hopped onto the moving trainand the father held his two girls and wept for miles along the steep andsooty coastline.Every dark eye and flowing tress in the city made Rosari’s heart jumpfor want of her mother. Around the corner would come a young womanholding a basket filled with mushrooms or Swiss chard, and for amoment the girl would think it was she. Through the window of thebarbershop where her father snipped hair and she cleaned the floor andshined shoes she might see a woman’s profile, somebody in a blackdress with a load of firewood balanced on her head, and Rosari wouldalmost cry out,
Mama! 
Most of the time she kept her feelings to herself,and mostly because she didn’t want her father to get started and havehim cry all over the head of some rich customer, but the keening for her mother overtook her now and then in the crowded apartment above thebarbershop, and the fact that Claudia soon left them didn’t help.Her sixteen-year-old sister was engaged to a Neapolitan stonemasonwithin a month of their arrival. Plump, quiet, simple-minded Claudia gotmarried and moved into her mother-in-law’s house the night of thewedding. Rosari, who had learned to read by age seven with the help of her father and the sisters at Santo Giovanni, her home church, lostherself in newspapers and books as a way to cope with the loss of her sister and the lost hope of finding their mother. She found many booksto choose among in the big city, on racks in a tobacconist’s, in thehouses of the merchants. The girl would run down the narrow streets,dodging carts and mules, and deliver clean linen to ladies who wouldlend her books about knights and damsels in distress. She was justeleven years old, a dark-skinned, scrawny girl with disheveled hair andher nose in a book, when Gratiano, a local criminal who liked a closeshave and a shoe shine, studied her.Debonair, articulate, yet hopelessly illiterate, Gratiano sat in the chair under Lazaro’s nimble fingers and watched the girl read a book half asbig as she was. She reads and writes? he asked the barber. At that timeonly one of every ten Neapolitans could read.Smart as a whip, Lazaro replied.If I could do that I’d learn English and go to America. And the girlthought of how she would marry this handsome man with the dark eyes

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