I’ve updated this review a bit.
Giovanna and I grew up together, so I’d been looking forward to this book. I’m very happy to share some thoughts.
“In My Neighborhood” is divided into three sections. In the first, Giovanna tells stories of growing up in an Italian neighborhood. The reader is steeped in the sights, sounds, and smells of these experiences and I found myself getting hungry for some good Italian food. Here is an excerpt from “Angela Maria, My Grandmother.”
There were countless garments you sewed
with your 5 daughters, including my mother
everyone sitting at the kitchen table
hand stitching collars and sleeves onto sweaters.
You picked bushels full of red tomatoes
grown in a backyard garden
You’d chop an simmer them fresh in a pan
with basil, garlic, and onions
always making your Sunday sauce from scratch.
At the butcher shop
you hand selected live chickens
feeling their necks till you found a fat one.
In the second section, our narrator leaves home, begins to explore her sexuality, and what it means to take your family and culture with you out into the world and how that changes over time.
The third section tells of leaving home and how, sometimes, our families love us even when they don’t understand us.
The tales told in these poems and stories are strong, identifiable, and honest. I highly recommend Giovanna Capone’s work.