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East Liberty

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  34 ratings  ·  4 reviews
In the late '50s and early '60s, in a rough, Italian-American neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Bobby Renzo is growing up fatherless in the care of his beautiful and mysterious mother, Francene. At school the nuns worry about his single-parent home, but Bobby and Francene are happy. Occasionally she brings a man to her bedroom, and Bobby is shut out, but that doesn't happen ofte ...more
Hardcover, 207 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Banks Channel Books (first published September 2001)
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Aug 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers with a spine & a funnybone
Recommended to John by: a couple of good Italian-American writers
Bathanti's stories in the earlier HIGH HEART demonstrated admirable sympathy, intensity, & cold-eyed alertness. In EAST LIBERTY, though, he extends these qualities, not just achieving an entire novel's worth of drama, but a portrait in the round of a broken family & its bristling community. That community is Italian-American Pittsburgh in the 1950s, a working-class inner-city neighborhood such as doesn't exist any more, & so his book's also to be praised as a finely-chosen & -preserved archeolog ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I admit it--I want to read every single thing Bathanti has written. He's a master at creating a strong sense of place, and his setting details bring every scene to life. Although the narrator in this story stands true and leads the reader forward in a wholly engaging manner, it's Francene who grabs my heart. The story is compelling and the writing is expert, but the real power in this book is the way it pulls you, the reader, into a different time and place. Once there, you won't want it to end. ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it
A subtle and touching portrait of the love between a mother and son.
Gerry LaFemina
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
East Liberty is a coming of age story that examines the interiority of its child protagonist and an Italian American culture of another time, one with changing mores. The Libery of the title refers as much to the Italian American community of East Liberty as to the types of freedoms Bobby Renzo and his mother Francene seem to have, and yet how linked they are to their heritage, to their neighborhood, to each other, and to the often contradictory values of Church, heritage, and community.
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Joseph Bathanti was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. He came to North Carolina as a VISTA Volunteer in 1976 to work with prison inmates. Bathanti is the author of four books of poetry: Communion Partners; Anson County; The Feast of All Saints; and This Metal, which was nominated for The National Book Award. His first novel, East Liberty, winner of the Carolina Novel Award, was published in 2001. ...more

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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