If you are partly “Italian-American” (as I am), and that ancestry stems from you being a product of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. between about 1870-1914 (as I am), it’s likely you grew up with a complicated relationship with Italy.
My maternal great-grandparents were all Italian immigrants. My grandparents were born in the U.S. Some in my mother’s U.S.-born generation were reared to be utterly indifferent to Italy.
Perhaps World War II had an impact. Benito Mussolini had been a difficult, divisive subject in families like mine pre-war. However, after he joined the war in 1940, and particularly after he declared war on the U.S. in late 1941, he became America’s enemy who needed to be smashed and that was that.
Yesterday I realized it has now been over a month since I’ve shared any of the Distances rough draft here. I worked more on this part yesterday also, and thought as I finished that it merited a “sneak peek.” It all “happens” in “James’s” mind shortly after he has landed in Italy for the first time and is being chauffeured to a Rome hotel along with three rather familiar women.
As you may know (two novels in) if you drop by here regularly, “James” has much of me in him. “Lucy,” his grandmother referred to here, has a great deal of my late grandmother in her. His grandfather, “Jim,” the central focus of this excerpt, has lots of my late, maternal grandfather in him.
Just a word of kind warning. If you have not read the first two books, there is a slight “spoiler” in here. But I think it’s worth sharing nevertheless and if you read it I hope you enjoy it:
Uh, writers…. and memories…. and sources.
If you’re like me also, you may think lots about those you’ve loved who are gone and who when living left an outsized imprint on your life. Fictionalizing them is gut-wrenching. (To say nothing of writing them as entirely themselves.) Drawing upon memories of your long-deceased grandparents can be an especially rough experience.
Have a good Friday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂