Conversation with Johnny
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CONVERSATION WITH JOHNNY
Subsequent artistic attempts at humanizing the don include Analyze This and The Sopranos. Both of these productions feature don characters in therapy. Valerio's use of the therapy device, though, is unique and visionary. It not only predates these films, but also shows the don in control, as therapist, not patient. This configuration emphasizes the power of Italian culture to nurture individual identity. Johnny, the don, serves as cultural nursemaid to the reborn Italian-American, Nicholas.
“The Mafia don as therapist--This comic premise anchors the vignettes that form Conversation with Johnny, allowing Valerio the freedom to demonstrate his virtuosity as poet, comedian, fantasist, philospher, and cultural historian.”
--Professor George Guida, City University of New York
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About ANITA GARIBALDI, a Biography
"In Valerio's hand, Anita Garibaldi emerges as the courageous but vulnerable woman from Sao Paulo, Brazil, whose singular and precious spirit was caught in the times. Anita Garibaldi is a romance discovered in history's embrace. Valerio creates the Brazilian ethos in its emerald presence as the brilliant nerve in Garibaldi's brave but short time. This biography has a texture like a Renior film, broad and expansive, swimming along in voluble seas."-Afaa M. Weaver Simmons College Boston
About JOHN DANTE'S INFERNO, a Playboy's Life
A 21st Century Virgil! September 28, 2012
By John McCormick (Chicago)
A great writer once remarked with considerable relish that "Dante was a pornographer!" He was referring to the author of *The Divine Comedy.*
One might think that Anthony Valerio, who parallels the life of *Playboy* insider John Dante with the narrative of Dante Alighieri's *Inferno,* would risk making elements of the latter seem salacious or cheap.
On the contrary, Valerio elevates what others certainly would have rendered pornographic--the exploits of a consummate ladies man in the tradition of Don Juan, Casanova, Valentino--to the level of epic poetry.
*John Dante's Inferno* is the latest and perhaps bravest of Valerio's incomparable chronicles of singular Italian American lives; an erudite, reverent, wry, wise and, yes, bawdy biography of Giovanni Aimola aka John Dante--Italian immigrant, night club owner, restauranteur and life-long right hand man to *Playboy* founder, Hugh Hefner.
Valerio's voice is as much a character in this work as is any of the artists, celebrities, gangsters, and of course women (intriguing, beautiful, daring and too often terribly vulnerable women) who cross its pages. Readers will laugh aloud at Valerio's nonplused, bemused reactions to some of the more outrageous statements uttered by the likes of Dante, Hefner, and Shel Silverstein, who also plays a pivotal role in this tale of physical pleasure and, at its core, emotional longing. They will mourn the death in exile suffered by this Dante and wonder whether he ever attained anything like the *Paradiso* described by his namesake.
Seamlessly weaving 13th century Florence with 20th century Chicago and Hollywood, Valerio lays bare the timelessness and full depth of male lust and desire--at their most base and transcendent. Both men and women among readers will recognize anew what a glorious and ridiculous creature is the male of the species.
About LEFTY & HER GANGSTERS, a novel of Power & Sex
“Subsequent artistic attempts at humanizing the don include Analyze This and The Sopranos. Both of these productions feature don characters in therapy. Valero's use of the therapy device, though, is unique and visionary. It not only predates these films, but also shows the don in control, as therapist, not patient. This configuration emphasizes the power of Italian culture to nurture individual identity. Johnny, the don, serves as cultural nursemaid to the reborn Italian-American, Nicholas. “ Melus
About THE LITTLE SAILOR, a Romantic Thriller
"The private, woman-filtered experience of communal life, Valerio’s quintessential métier, the animating principal of his entire literary corpus." --George Guida, VIA Magazine
About TONI CADE BAMBARA'S ONE SSICILIAN NIGHT, a Memoir
"The process by which a great love begins is as hidden as the birth of the universe or the conception of a human being. Here Anthony Valerio, who has lived it, allows us to see it without violating its mystery. This is his story of the improbable but profound recognition that ignited between him -- an "Olive" man, Italian-American writer -- and the acclaimed, doomed Black novelist and activist Toni Cade Bambara. It is so delicate, touching, suspenseful -- I hardly breathed the whole time." "amba12" (New York, NY USA)
"Anthony Valerio's fiction bears likeness to our best dreams when the fantastical elements of the subconscious play themselves out in a vivid replica of reality."
--The Baltimore Sun