East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

New York and my father


I am putting the finishing touches on a new story, the deadline is two days away. I’m working on another author’s bible, and I’ve enjoyed the writing so far. I like the characters, the set-up, the concept.
As I usually do, I used the web to research a bit the canonical elements. In this case, I used Google Maps to reconnoiter the area in New York in which the main character lives.


And I found to my surprise that the main character lives about a block away from my father’s place when he lived in New York.
It gave me a weird turn.

Back in the early ‘60s, my dad left Italy and moved to the US, to New York, where his family had some relations. He was young and bold and had stars in his eyes. He worked as a baker, while he looked around to find his place.
He met people, and fell forever in love with New York.
He was all set to apply for citizenship and leave Italy behind for good, but his mother got wild at the idea, and mounted a very operatic, big drama scene, and he had to come back.
Once back, he found a job in Turin, he met my mother, etc.
In my personal opinion, he never got over that missed opportunity, and I think he held a grudge with his mother for ages because of her moral blackmail.

So here I am now, writing a story in the places he described and told us about, with that strange mix of nostalgia, regret and total fascination.
It became easy, when I had to create a character to help the hero, to think about my father.
Ray_Liotta_Deauville_2014_2And so I wrote him into the story.
Oh, I did a lot of changes.
This character is not my dad… he’s rather my dad as portrayed by Ray Liotta.
But the core is there. My father when he was young and full of hopes, not the tired, frail, scared old man I assisted in his last years. That thin, eager young man, with a mind for numbers and a severe dyslexia the priests in school had tried to cure by beating him. The smart, funny guy that used to hang out with Actor’s Studio students, and had once cooked a quick dish of spaghetti for Shirley Maclaine.
The man in the know, savvy to what goes on.
Cool, relaxed, smartly (but cheaply) dressed.
I think that was his idea of heaven – to be in New York, young and smart and free from his overbearing mother and the hunger and desperation of post-war Italy.
Eating a Sinatra Special at Defonte’s.

I think I owed the old man this much.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “New York and my father

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your account, Davide. The synchronicity of that overlapping city block: a speck in that enormous metropolis, that road not taken that everyone can relate to with so very well and with such sorrow. I also took care of my father in his waning years, and note here that he spent long months in Italy during the war. Moving stuff indeed. Thank you.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.