The Boys of Bensonhurst: Stories

Salvatore La Puma, Author, Puma Salvatore La, Author University of Georgia Press $13.95 (136p) ISBN 978-0-8203-0891-3
These urban folktales about the Sicilian-Americans in a Brooklyn neighborhood during World War II have an ambitious purpose: to describe a cultural group that is sometimes romanticized in films and novels but rarely examined. La Puma, winner of a Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, endeavors to limn the rest of the picture, and his Bensonhurst is filled with such characters as the son of mute parents who translates their wild gesticulations, a teenager who sees no reason to fight in the war but is afraid he will be branded a coward, a wife who takes to her sickbed and refuses to leave it although she has recovered, and other immigrants and first-generation Americans influenced by old superstitions, Catholic guilt and the appeal of petty crime. Unfortunately, La Puma doesn't dig deeply enough past the mannerisms of his characters and brings a wistful regard rather than a critical eye to their lives, but he has done the next best thing, brought them accurately to print. (February)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1987
Release date: 02/01/1987
Genre: Fiction
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