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I’m happy to announce that my reading and book-signing at the Holland-Alexandria Free Public Library has been rescheduled. I’ll be appearing there on Saturday, March 16, at 1 p.m. I’m looking forward to returning to my old turf in Hunterdon County in western New Jersey — I lived in Alexandria Township for many years and edited the local weekly paper, the now-defunct Delaware Valley News.

Here’s a photo of me posing with the statue of Rip Van Winkle in Irvington, N.Y.:
me and rip van winkle

Here’s an updated schedule of other scheduled “Rip” readings and book-signings:/em>:

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m., Highland Park Public Library, Highland Park, NJ

Saturday, Feb. 23, 1 p.m., Howland Public Library, Beacon, NY

Thursday, April 4, 5 p.m., Port Jervis Free Public Library, Port Jervis NY

Saturday, April 13, 2 p.m., Hunterdon County Library, Raritan Township, NJ

Monday, April 22, 6 p.m., Somers Public Library, Katonah, NY.

At each venue, I’ll read excerpts from my satirical modern-day “retelling” of “Rip Van Winkle,” talk a little about my longtime affection for the works of Washington Irving, answer questions, and sign copies for people who buy the book, which will be available for purchase after the reading. Admission to all events is free.

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“Rip” tide?

Three more readings and book-signings have been scheduled for “Rip,” my spoof of  Washington Irving’s classic “Rip Van Winkle.”

As previously announced, I’ll be appearing Saturday, Oct. 20, at 3 p.m., at the Briarcliff Manor (N.Y.) Library.

Now I’ve been scheduled for a reading and book-signing on Friday, Oct. 19, at 3 p.m., at the public library in Orangeburg, N.Y. –

In the springtime, I’ve been scheduled to appear on Thursday, April 4, at 5 p.m., at the Port Jervis (N.Y.) Public Library and on Monday, April 22, at 6 p.m., at the public library in Somers, N.Y.

Briarcliff is in Westchester County, N.Y., and is also well within range of Rockland County, Putnam County and southwest Connecticut. Orangeburg is off the Palisades Parkway between the northern border of New Jersey and the western side of the Tappan Zee Bridge, in the vicinity of Nyack and Nanuet, south of the Tappan Zee and north of the GW Bridge. Port Jervis is up near the Delaware Water Gap, sort of at the confluence of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Somers is in northern Westschester County.

At all four free events, I’ll talk a bit about my longtime affection for Washington Irving’s writing, I’ll chat a little about how I came to write my modern-day parody of “Rip Van Winkle,” I’ll read sample chapters from the book, I’ll take questions from the audience, and I’ll sign copies of the book, which will be available for purchase at each event.

More readings/signings are in the works. Details will be posted here (as well on Facebook and on my author page at amazon.com) as dates, times and locations are confirmed.

Mangia!

Above, my grandparents’ hometown of Scerni, in the province of Chieti, in the Abruzzo region of Italy.

The irony did not escape me. There I was, at a holiday weekend picnic/barbecue in a relatively affluent town in New Jersey, surrounded by friendly and  interesting and educated people — in a setting and surroundings where my Italian immigrant grandmother would have felt like she’d landed on another planet…if she even knew or believed in the existence of other planets,  seeing as she believed the moon landing and moon walks were faked.

(She also believed in the evil eye. And once, when we made a family trip to upstate New York and visited a place called Howe Caverns, we actually convinced Grandma DiGiovanni to take an elevator down into the caverns. We even got her to get into the flat-bottomed boat which took visitors on a ride on the cavern’s underground river — and she was fine until the lights were turned off, and bats fluttered around, and Grandma screamed hysterically because, I gathered, she believed we had been lured down into the home of the Devil).

My grandparents, long gone now, were from Abruzzo, from a small mountain town called Scerni in a province called Chieti. They came to America in the 1930s.  My grandfather was a farm laborer. My grandmother was a shepherd girl — she once described to me, in her broken English, the time a wolf attacked her flock of sheep.

I was in my 30s when my grandmother died, which means I have clear memories of her — and of her huge Sunday dinners, which are a hallmark of Abruzzo, especially in the small towns and on the peasant farms.

Peasant cooking, of course, produced meals that were hearty and filling — and used whatever ingredients were available, including parts of animals that more affluent folks might not even think about cooking and eating. Hence, we eat sausages, with ground up less-appetizing parts stuffed into the animal’s intestines, then cooked. Tripe? Yes, that’s the lining of a cow’s stomach, and it’s also of peasant origin. Lamb brains? Yes, my grandmother used to cook that when she would head down to the Italian markets on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, N.Y., and buy an entire lamb to cook for Easter dinner. The brain would be chopped up and mixed with eggs and breadcrumbs and parsley, then cooked right inside the roasted lamb’s skull.

I don’t think any of the people I was with last weekend would have eaten baked lamb brains.  Me neither!

But what I did cook as my contribution to the potluck meal — which lots of folks ate and liked —  was a good hearty peasant dish which I call, um, Grandma DiGiovanni’s Italian Cheese Patties.

Here’s the recipe:

Get two big round loaves of good Italian bread. Remove the crust (save to make bread crumbs) and break the insides of the two loaves into small pieces. Put the bread in a large bowl and add six beaten eggs and two cups of Parmesan cheese. Mix together well. The bread mixture must be sticky and moist enough to form into patties; if it’s slightly dry and crumbly, just sprinkle a little water on the mixture; if it’s VERY dry and crumbly, trying adding another beaten egg; conversely, if the mixture is TOO sticky, mix in some dry bread crumbs until the mixture can be molded into patties.

Mold the mixture into patties, then fry them in good olive oil until both sides are golden brown (don’t overcook and turn over the patties carefully with a spatula). After the patties are golden brown on both sides, simmer them for two hours in a good homemade tomato sauce.  After two hours, remove from sauce….and, mangia!

 

Don’t get caught napping! “Rip” now available as Kindle edition

Hooray! My short novel, “Rip,” a 20th-century parody of “Rip Van Winkle” (Rip is a toll collector on the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown…he and his ne’er-do-well friends, the Sleepy Hollow Boys, do battle with a group of feminists who take up the cause of Rip’s wife….) is now (finally!) available as a Kindle edition.

Here’s the link to obtaining a million dollars worth of laughs for just $4.99….That’s less than a Big Mac Meal….Way less than going to the movies…Less than (can you believe it?) the Sunday New York Times…In other words, don’t get caught napping like old Rip Van Winkle — buy your Kindle edition now!

Great writing! Great price! Great holiday gift!

My novel “Rip,” a parody of Washington Irving’s classic “Rip Van Winkle,” is available at these locations:

Nighthawk Books, 212 Raritan Ave., Highland Park, N.J.
Book Garden, 26 Bridge Street, Frenchtown, N.J.
Half Moon Books, 35 North Front St., Kingston, N.Y.
Whimsies Incognito, 35 South Broadway, Tarrytown, N.Y.
Market St. Market, 95 Market St., Lowell, Mass.

If you don’t live in the vicinity of one of these stores, you can order “Rip” online:

Great holiday gift (perfect stocking stuffer for the readers on your gift list)! Great price (just $12.95)!

Amazing! My book’s on Amazon!

My novella “Rip,” the funniest book since Dick Cheney’s autobiography, is now available for purchase through Amazon! (It’s only available in print form at the moment; Kindle edition should be available within a few days).

It isn’t just a great work of humor/satire/parody/stock market tips/advice to the lovelorn/travel writing/political analysis/historical fiction/zombie lore/fashion forecasts.

It’s also only $12.95, about the price of a large pizza (without toppings), which means “Rip” is the perfect Christmas gift for your more bookish friends, who will (if they find my book under their tree or in their stocking which they’ve hung by their chimney with care in hopes that Nicholas DiGiovanni’s “Rip” will be there) think that you are right on the cutting edge of American, nay, world literature.

They will be wrong, of course, but let’s indulge them (and me) in this nice fantasy!

Here’s what Black Angel Press publisher Steven Hart had to say about “Rip” —

RIP VAN WINKLE MEETS THE SIXTIES (AND FEMINISM)
IN A HILARIOUS RETELLING OF WASHINGTON IRVING’S VENERABLE TALE

Imagine Washington Irving sitting down for a friendly drink and spinning yarns with Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon, and you’ll get an idea of the flavor of Rip, Nicholas DiGiovanni’s satirical retelling of Irving’s venerable story about ne’er-do-well Rip van Winkle.

DiGiovanni brings Rip van Winkle into the Sixties, finds him gainful employment as a toll-taker on the Tappan Zee Bridge, and makes his long suffering wife a charter member in the feminist movement just starting to sweep the country.

There’s a lot more packed into this story, but you’ll just have to read it for yourself. Suffice to say that once you’re done, you’ll understand why novelist Christian Bauman (In Hoboken, The Ice Beneath You) calls DiGiovanni “a master storyteller.”

This handsomely produced Black Angel Press edition includes the full text of Washington Irving’s original tale, giving readers the chance to savor two great storytellers at once.

Visit http://www.blackangelpress.com and you’ll find a link to order the book through Amazon. You’ll also find links to “About the Author,” “About the Book” and “About Black Angel Press,” as well as information about other Black Angel titles.

Lest we forget

This is the latest in a series of essays titled “Man Has Premonition of Own Death”

How is it possible to forget when your own father died? I’m not talking about the day or the month. I’m talking about the year! I can never even remember what year it was when my father died! Thank God for Google and online newspaper archives. Here’s my father’s obituary, which was printed in his local daily newspaper:

DIGIOVANNI, NICK J. – Nick J. DiGiovanni, age 69, a lifetime resident of Yonkers, passed away September 24, 2002 at Sound Shore Medical Center, New Rochelle, NY. Mr. DiGiovanni was born in Yonkers, NY, on December 18, 1932 to the late Nicola and the late Luisa DiGiovanni. He served honorably in the US Air Force (1952-1956) and afterwards, was employed as a programmer for the Yonkers Board of Education. He is survived by his beloved wife…his devoted children…and his eight loving grandchildren…Wake to be held Friday, September 27, 2002 from 2-4 and 7-9 pm at SINATRA MEMORIAL HOME, INC, 601 Yonkers Avenue, Yonkers, NY. A Religious Service will be conducted at the Funeral Home Chapel at 1 pm on Saturday, September 28, 2002, followed by entombment at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale.

Do you believe in ghosts? Today I got this feeling, started thinking about my father and trying to remember when he died, and decided to google his obituary — and today is Sept. 24, which happens to be the sixth anniversary of my father’s death.