In Search of the Perfect Ravioli

Paul Mantee, Author Ballantine Books $9 (214p) ISBN 978-0-345-37261-1
Los Angeles screenwriter Peter Russo's marriage has ended, and he has been struck by a whopping case of writer's block. So he indulges in a marathon ravioli-making session punctuated by telephone chats about pasta and life with his long-divorced parents and excursions into his past. This charming and earthy first novel vividly evokes the trials and absurdities of growing up--or trying to. As a boy, Peter found it tough enough just dealing with his stepmother Harriet, who was furious for 13 years (``except when we had company''). Then, when adolescence struck, he really got crazy, developing ``two one-track minds'': one focused on religion (on entering a diocesan school, Peter ``became Catholic all of a sudden''), the other preoccupied with seeing girls naked. Woven into Peter's history are a host of characters, like grandmother Nonna and her basketball-shaped spaniel; the camp counselor adept at the ``movie-star kiss''; the incomprehensible Bohemians whom Peter met when the Navy posted him to Hawaii; assorted nuns and priests; and a chatty typewriter that reminds Peter he's just ``chickenshit.'' (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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