Posts Tagged ‘My Cousin the Saint’
“At a time when I should be spending my time reading documentation in advance of next week’s annual meeting of the bishops of the United States, I found myself totally engrossed in a book, which I highly recommend to anyone. Titled My Cousin the Saint (Harper Collins, 2008), this masterful account was written by Justin Catanoso…”
So begins the Nov. 14, 2010 blog entry by Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla. My book was brought to the bishop’s attention by an old friend from my boyhood days in Wildwood, NJ who now lives in St. Pete. The rest of the kind and gracious review is here.
“Just let me say that I have seldom been as captivated by a personal story as I was by this one, finding it hard to put my iPad on ‘off,’” Bishop Lynch writes.
The Second Annual Festival Italiano will be held on Sunday, October 17, in downtown Greensboro. They’re getting started around noon on the 300 block of South Elm Street, just as the Crop Walk is finishing nearby. I’ll be at Tent 21 with books for sale and signing. Story and details here. Goes until 6 p.m. Lots of food and fun. Free admission. Perfect weather predicted. Come by a get a book or three!
Further details at the festival web site, here.
Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT has put up a nice web site to promote my talk there on November 3. Very much looking forward to it.
Another nice surprise. I accepted an invitation to speak at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., on Nov. 3, at the campus library. Topic will be some variation on the theme of my previous 85 book talks — my cousin the saint, as well as issues of faith, family and miracles. A local bookstore will handle book sales. HarperCollins Speakers Bureau — ideal for all your public speaking needs — is expertly handling the details.
Now that My Cousin the Saint has been out a couple of years, calls for media interviews stopped about a year ago. But I had a delightful one this morning on Sirius XM Satellite Radio with Gus Lloyd, who hosts the drive-time program Seize the Day on the Catholic Radio Network.
Gus was prepared with excellent questions and lots of enthusiasm. It was a pleasure to talk with him and whomever was listening earlier today. Thanks Gus, and thanks to Emily, your producer, too.
So many things about this time of year that remind me of the amazing and memorable month I spent in Italy exactly four years ago in doing research for my book. This day particular day, June 25, was both joyful and tragic. My day started with my cousin Giovanna, who drove me the 25 miles from Reggio Calabria to the hillside village of Pentidattilo, where Padre Gaetano had his first church and parish. We spent a few hours that morning wandering through the abandoned village. It was spectacular. On the drive home, however, I learned that Piero Catanso, the family patriarch and legend of the legal community in Reggio, had died suddenly that morning of a heart attach at age 65. Late that afternoon, my interpreter, Germaine, took to me Piero’s niece’s apartment, where the viewing took place just a few hours after Piero had died at the hospital.
My emotions that day were so conflicted and confused. I wondered if in doing the research for my book if I had actually encountered more than I was prepared to handle, whether I really was a part of this Italian family, whether it was necessary for me to return home to America a week early and put this entire book project on hold. But while my spiritual faith was always up for grabs, my faith in my Italian relatives held strong. The week I spent in Reggio after Piero’s death gave me incomparable insight into what it means to be a Catanoso in Italy, what it means to be part of such a large and loving family, and not incidentally, what it means to be related to a saint. A real saint, as in St. Gaetano Catanoso. I will always be profoundly grateful for that.
I know Piero’s wonderful wife Adriana and his grown children, Claudia, Allesandra and Natale, miss him as much today as they did the day he died four years ago today. The fact is, I miss him, too. And all of them as well.
My Cousin the Saint received about 15 reviews in print and online, including a so-so Publishers Weekly review pre-publication. My biggest review (aside from a nice mention in The Washington Post) was The Philadelphia Inquirer on a Sunday in August 2008. That never would’ve happened if not for the graciousness of Inquirer Editor Bill Marimow, who met with me one morning in his office and introduced me to the paper’s book editor. I was able to make my case in person; he went for it. I remain grateful.
That said, the Times Book Review remains the Holy Grail for writers, and it’s absolutely unattainable for 99 percent of us. That’s because of both the avalanche of books published annually and the Times’ peculiar methods for selecting books to review (many of which simply cannot have potential sales of more than 200). Making the Times Best Seller list is easier than getting reviewed — and that’s really hard!
In any event, this blog post is worth reading, if you care about such things. An excerpt:
“When I worked as an editor at Doubleday and later as an agent doing business with most major publishers, there was a constant lament about the Times’s cultural blindspots. This lament was rarely given voice beyond whispered conversations because hope sprung eternal that the newspaper would come around in time to review an author’s next work, rather than consign it, too, to oblivion. Well, good luck with that. Many authors have waited their whole lives for a nod from the gray lady.”
Here’s a link to a recording of my speech on March 15 at the Penn State Forum at the Nittany Lion Inn on the campus of Penn State University: http://wpsu.org/radio/single_entry/LL-2851/pennstateforum
An interesting Q&A follows the speech. Thanks to Katie O’Toole of the Forum for moderating.
“My Cousin the Saint: A Search for Faith, Family and Miracles”
Monday, March 15, 2010
Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Speakers have been announced for the 2009-10 Penn State Forum Speaker Series. The series features several luncheons, modeled after the National Press Club Speaker Series, which include a presentation by an invited speaker, followed by audience questions. The luncheons are held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Nittany Lion Inn or the Penn Stater on the University Park campus of Penn State.
Co-sponsored by the Penn State Bookstore and the offices of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, the Penn State Forum Speaker Series is open to the general public. Tickets for the Penn State Forum are $15. To purchase tickets for any or all of these events, contact the ID+ Office, located at 103 HUB-Robeson Building, University Park, call (814) 865-7590, or visit http://www.idcard.psu.edu/forums/ online for more information.