October 11th, 2010 09:14 EST
A Haunting, Unique Tale of Redemption
Not many writers about the Mafia have listened to the notorious Frank Costello, Vito Genovese and Tony Gallo chatting over glasses of home-pressed Oro marsala in a kitchen, but Djelloul Marbrook, author of Saraceno, did, and he celebrates it with a poet`s ear in this haunting tale.
Saraceno, a novella by this prize-winning poet, has been released as an e-book by Bliss Plot Press in most e-reader formats. An audio version will be available soon.
Saraceno may be downloaded here:
Review Copies of Saraceno are actively traded to this day on the Internet, often demanding high prices. The work received high praise when review copies were sent out in 2005, but its original publisher failed before the book was distributed. In the meantime Marbrook won the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Prize for his first book of poems, Far From Algiers (Kent State University Press, 2008) and has now published a second book of poems, Brushstrokes and Glances, as the e-book revolution gathers momentum.
Here is what some reviewers had to say:
" Saraceno is an electric tone-poem straight from a world we only think we understand. An heir to George V. Higgins and David Mamet, Djelloul Marbrook writes dialogue that not only entertains with an intoxicating clickety-clack, but also packs a truth about low-life mob culture The Sopranos only hints at. You can practically smell the anisette and filling-station coffee. "Dan Baum, author of Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death and Life in New Orleans (Spiegel & Grau, 2009)
" "a good ear for crackling dialogue " I love Marbrook`s crude, raw music of the streets. The notes are authentic and on target "
"Sam Coale, The Providence (RI) Journal
" Strongly recommended as a remarkably crafted tale.
"Midwest Book Review
" Not just another run-of-the-mill mafia novel, Saraceno is very strongly recommended as a remarkable crafted tale that will have a particular appeal for readers who appreciate the unique tale of a Mafia thug`s transformation "Small Press Bookwatch
" This lyrical and violent, funny and sad, hot and cool novella haunts us. Try it. " "Ann LaFarge, Taconic Weekend
" Haunting " when I finished, I kept remembering pieces. " "Carol Walters, Director, Sandhills Regional Library System, N.C.
" "a mature artist whose rich body of work is finally coming to light. "
"Brent Robison, editor, Prima Materia
Marbrook`s stepfather, Dominick J. Guccione, to whom Saraceno is dedicated, was a respected businessman who saw many of his childhood friends on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan become Mafiosi. He`d been a childhood friend of Lucky Luciano. He experienced firsthand the Mafia taking root in the New World and he explained to his stepson that the bigotry Sicilians encountered in America "similar to that now felt by Hispanics "had much to do with the transplanting of the Mafia.
While Marbrook was working in a Greenwich Village club during college the club owner left a brown bag of uncut heroin with him for safekeeping. Rejecting the risk of taking a fall, Marbrook put the bag on a ledge in a storm drain. His boss beat him so badly he had to be hospitalized. In revenge he took some of Genovese`s men to the heroin, and the gang eventually hijacked the club owner`s enterprises.
Marbrook remembers these voices vividly. They echo in this story of cruelty, murder, loyalty, friendship and transformation. So do the voices of the criminals and theater people he knew in Hell`s Kitchen where he worked. He sold newspapers on Eighth Avenue to Costello, Marlon Brando, Robert Alda, Vivian Blaine, Richard Kiley, Alfred Drake, Cab Calloway, and "in the poet`s words "the incomparable Gwen Verdon.
Saraceno is not the now familiar tale of greed and vendetta. Billy Salviati is an eerily handsome thug with a gift for friendship. His friend Matteo, whom he meets on Eighth Avenue selling newspapers, introduces him to his grandfather, a Mafia don. The elderly Hettie Warshaw, who had been the infamous Doctor Joseph Mengele`s slave-assistant at Auschwitz, finds Billy`s nobility of soul and opens his mind to books and art even as Billy becomes a feared Mafioso.
This is the most unusual Mafia story you will ever read, and it is far more authentic than most. It is an unforgettable fable of the triumph of the human spirit over darkness. Don`t miss it.