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.
And 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.