If You Eat, You Never Die : Chicago Tales

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-12-07
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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In a neighborhood on Chicago's outskirts, Fabio and Lucia Comingo have built a new American life-and struggle to comprehend the influences that distract and change their restless young sons. Through this masterful evocation of a time and place, Tony Romano, the acclaimed author of When the World Was Young, brings a first-generation Italian American family vividly and poignantly alive in closely related tales at once joyous, heartbreaking, and honest. Weaving two dozen stories into a stunning, cohesive family history, Romano gives readers hope for togetherness amid the painful generational cycle of loss and redemption-as children grow and learn, and decide which treasures of cultural inheritance they will cherish.

Table of Contents

Americap. 1
Hungersp. 3
No Ballsp. 11
If You Eat, You Never Diep. 15
Comic Booksp. 21
One Upp. 35
Whistle Operap. 37
Milkboyp. 43
Sulfur Memoriesp. 57
New Neighborhoodp. 61
The Day of Settlementp. 67
Confidencesp. 79
When the Rains Comep. 105
In Motionp. 119
On Holdp. 131
Silencesp. 145
City Hallp. 161
The Casketp. 165
Fixing a Holep. 181
Deep Leftp. 199
Treading Waterp. 213
Tracep. 223
Blood Linesp. 235
Sundaysp. 253
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.


If You Eat, You Never Die
Chicago Tales

Chapter One



I'm not sure how Mama pulled it off. She arrived in America about six months before Papa and I, pregnant with my little brother, Jimmy. She found a job, an apartment, even an old storefront for what would be Papa's shop. She had cummings barber painted in red block letters on the huge picture window, thinking Cummings was a prosperous name. The shop closed after a year or so—only a trickle of regular customers strolled in—but, and this is what amazes me, the name Cummings stuck. In every sense. We were Americans now. Every document I've ever seen lists Cummings—social security cards, report cards, everything except birth certificates for Mama, Papa , and I, which we can't even find anymore, though I'm nearly certain I've seen them; Mama accuses Papa of leaving them behind in Italia. I imagine her haggling with the tired clerk at the Italian consulate, insisting that he write Cummings, not Comingo. "But the papers?" he probably sighed. "I must have the papers." I picture her laughing. "Paper? You no believe? What I gotta do? Go home eh come back? I take day off today eh come by you. I mail paper. You mark Cummings." She played out the same scene, I'm sure, at the Immigration and Naturalization office, the Social Security office, until she probably started believing herself that she was an American. So before Papa even stepped foot in this country, the Comingo line was dead.

If You Eat, You Never Die
Chicago Tales
. Copyright © by Tony Romano. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from If You Eat, You Never Die: Chicago Tales by Tony Romano
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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