Johnny Critelli: And, The Knifemen : Two Novels

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Scribner, 1996 - Fiction - 268 pages
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Set in Utica, New York, in the 1950s, Johnny Critelli evokes the richness, conflicts, lusts, and longings of an Italian-American community trying to embrace American culture as it clings to its own. In Utica, food, family, religion, and Joe DiMaggio are equally transcendent. Every extra penny in town in invested in Little League in a romantic homage to athletic greatness and to a Yankee line-up studded with Italian-American names. At the heart of this story are three generations of the author's own family and Johnny Critelli, a mythical orphan who may have disappeared years before Lentricchia's birth, but who continues to obsess him. Raw and rapturous, this novel extols the creativity of the mind and tenacity of the spirit. The Knifemen is an explosive, blunt-force evocation of the evil voices inside men. It presents a chilling, rapid descent into the mental hell of Richard Assisi, a respectable gynecologist and apparently decent man, who turns self-hatred onto everyone around him, especially those who love him most. Richard is a man moving through ordinary rooms and saying familiar things, but all the while with slaughter and misogyny in his heart. Intensely compelling, The Knifemen dissects the metaphysics of maleness, exposing the primordial lurch toward violence and blood lust.

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Johnny Critelli; and, The knifemen: two novels

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Written in an experimental style with Joycean overtones, these short novels center on the Italian-American community of Utica, New York. This work is about art and memory. While the main character is ... Read full review


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About the author (1996)

Frank Lentricchia is a novelist and ex-literary theorist. He teaches in the Program in Literature at Duke University. THE PORTABLE LENTRICCHIA is from a selection of his novels.

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