They Say
by Joseph Torra

ISBN: 978-0-9792999-0-2
Perfect Bound, $15.00
Publication Date: December 2007
5 x 7 inches, 172 pages

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They Say is a novel about a working-class, first-generation Italian family living in the Boston area in the first half of the 20th century, centering on the family’s struggles over oldest brother Louie, whose early artistic genius and political passions deteriorate into delusion and severe mental illness. Narrated by various siblings in this sprawling family, their stories have the intimacy and drama of a conversation told around the kitchen table—and like any living, breathing family tale, the brothers’ and sisters’ stories intersect, run parallel, contradict each other, fill in each other’s gaps. Theirs are stories of love and luck, as well as poverty, death, illness, and domestic abuse.

“[They Say] reads like a string of interviews delivered in broken English. That gives it a documentary-style authenticity — a good way to juice up the tale of a struggling Italian-American family in Boston... Torra’s characters speak in an almost poetic cadence...”  —Boston Magazine

Read a review of They Say in Prick of the Spindle.

Praise for Joseph Torra’s previous publications:

“If words were lug nuts, he’d spin them in ways the guys down at the garage never dreamed of.”  —New York Times Book Review

“A brilliant read.”  —Esquire

“…brings it all back to where it came from.”  —Robert Creeley

“The way Mr. Torra flows from one event to another, to a memory, to an observation is quite an accomplishment... this book is always a joy to read.”   —Hubert Selby Jr.

“[Part of a]n entire prose tradition that includes everyone from Kerouac to Creeley to Melville...”  —Ron Silliman

From They Say...

1908 My brother Louie was born. He was so handsome. When he was young in those old photos Mama had. The blond hair and blue eyes he got from Mama. Dolly had too. The first two born. They called her Dolly she was so beautiful. They was old enough to be our parents. Louie and Dolly was. Mama just kept having kids. Dolly took dancing and Mama had photos of her. In the dance costumes all made up. Like a little movie star. In them days the first-born got the attention. She was pregnant every two years. Mama was. They was special the first two. Papa went all out for them. He had a candy store. In the basement. Penny candy. By the time I remember Louie was already. Married and out of the house. Everybody in the neighborhood knew Papa. He was always so friendly and nice to them. There was some that didn’t make it. When Mama was pregnant. A few times Louie came to visit. Before he started having the trouble. But all of the older ones. Dolly she got married after Louie. Mama had some miscarriages and a stillbirth. We sometimes helped stretch the taffy way out. Me and Louisa and Christina it would stick to our. Then Christy and Eddie got married they had kids. As old as me when they came to visit we played with them. Gaetano he died from the flu. Louie’s wife I don’t hardly remember. We’d eat it off our fingers until we was sick. Maybe once she was with him when he came. I think Louie was already. In the hospital once or twice then. I’m not sure if anyone could remember them all. Sometimes Mama couldn’t keep track. Of her pregnancies.

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