Three Dreamers

Ballantine. Apr. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780593156711. $28. MEMOIR
Known for crime thrillers set in the Italian-American underworld that his father inhabited, Carcaterra tells in this memoir of the women in his life to whom he owes his inspiration and success. His mother and grandmother were from Ischia, off the coast of Naples, and his summers spent there with his grandmother were his one refuge from his parents’ disastrous marriage. Having lived through severe privations and strain in World War II, she treats him with a level of respect for his potential that he received nowhere else. His mother’s story is chilling, and her relationship with Carcaterra leaves many unanswered questions even as he obviously values it. His wife was a successful newspaper reporter and taught him the art of writing as they fell in love. Their partnership provides the calm missing from his life, and her early death devastates. The author’s storytelling is engaging and his love obvious, yet the inner lives and motivations of his subjects remain elusive, beyond their effect on him.
VERDICT Fans of Carcaterra’s novels and reporting will appreciate the background on his life and inspiration, and this reflective memoir gives nuance to the dark world he portrays in his novels.
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