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Lost Hearts by Vincent Panella

Lost Hearts

by Vincent Panella

226 pages
Short stories linked and separate.

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Category: Fiction
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About the Book
The twenty-three stories in Lost Hearts comprise a candid account of growing up and growing old, today in America, and over one hundred years ago in Sicily. While the stories can stand alone, they are also linked. Taken in sequence they make up a continuous narrative, what E.M. Forster called "the chopped string of the tapeworm of time."

Original Sin, the opening story set in rural Sicily in 1900, pushes a father-son conflict to its tragic conclusion. The protagonist, Peter Marino, emigrates to America and returns fifty years later to reunite with the woman he was forced by circumstances to abandon. Peter's descendants,including his grandson Charlie and those around him, now carry the narrative. The setting changes to Queens in the 1950's. Five boys form a gang; a young man at a church dance gets a taste of group violence; a high school student obsessed with The Odyssey comes to understand and identify with the English teacher who habitually falls asleep while the class is reciting the poem; a young man seeking revenge likens himself to New York's real life Mad Bomber. In other stories an aspiring young writer rents an apartment next to an older woman bitterly struggling with her life and art; a married man meets an old girlfriend at a job fair; an addicted gambler discovers that winning is really losing, and a once domineering father faces death with the son who was his enemy for so many years.

Those familiar with Mr. Panella's memoir, The Other Side, Growing up Italian in America, published by Doubleday in 1979, might be tempted to conclude that Lost Hearts is a novelization of that book. There is some truth in that observation. But while memoir is fact colored by memory, fiction suffers no such restrictions. Fiction whether long or short is life given form. Characters inspired by real life assume a fictional identity of their own. The same for real life places and events. If a writer can manage this oldest of tricks, the reader will accept his world.

In his invocation to the Muse in Paradise Lost, John Milton pleads, "...what in me is dark, illumine, what is low, raise and support." Whether Lost Hearts answers this prayer is for the reader to decide.



About the Author
Vincent Panella Vincent Panella grew up in Queens and now lives in Vermont. Doubleday published his memoir, The Other Side, in 1979, and his novel, Cutter's Island, won a ForeWord Magazine award in 2000. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and the former Writing Specialist at Vermont Law School.



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