1. Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: OR Books; 1st edition (2015)
Amazon: Nights at Rizzoli
Amazon Kindle: Nights at Rizzoli
Salvador Dalí, Jerome Robbins, Jackie Onassis. Gregory Peck, Mick Jagger-S. J. Perelman-I. M. Pei. Philip Johnson, Josephine Baker, John Lennon: they, and so many more who made New York City the center of the universe in the 1970s, all had one thing in common besides their adopted hometown-they shopped at a legendary palace of books, music and art: Rizzoli Books at 712 Fifth Avenue. There, Kennedys and Rockefellers mingled with tourists and "regular" customers under the watchful gaze of sophisticated employees, themselves a multi-talented, international collection of artists, scholars and rogues. Nights at Rizzoli is the memoir of Felice Picano, an aspiring but near-starving young writer who in 1971 lucked into a part-time job at the stunningly elegant store via a friend. It metamorphosed into a life-changing experience, one that exposed him to some of the brightest lights in the world's cultural capital. At the store, he himself became a key player on a stage that opened every night to a new drama that often featured romance, at times violence, and of course always the books and their readers. And when his shift was over, in this post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS era, the handsome young bookstore manager stepped from one world into another, prowling the piers, bars and very private clubs of a different New York City.
I have to admit I am a sucker for books like this.
This is a very vivid, detailed memoir about gay life and a special bookstore in the early 1970's of New York City. Worthwhile not just for the cast of famous characters and the love of books but for capturing a very specific era that many readers may not be aware of. Terrific writing flows naturally from one page to the other and I want to recommend this to all my gay friends who love Manhattan like I do.
This is the second memoir I've read from Felice Picano, and I liked this one immensely better than the first one I read last year. Mr. Picano has lead a very interesting, persistent, and engaging life all centered around a simple bookstore, Rizzoli's. His fondness of the place, and the rich history paint a wonderful portrait of the times. My favorite is Mr. M, offering him more money to manage the bookstore, believing that the budding writer would not and could not live on a writer's wage. As he noted, if he stayed, he would not have realized his dream or his full potential. I'm glad he decided to keep on writing so we could peek inside the eclectic store, personalities, and celebrities in the heyday of the Rizzoli.
Delightful to read, engaging, setting is excellent. The name-dropping gets a bit tiresome but that was part of the time and the circles in which he traveled.
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