Anthony Valerio is an author, editor and teacher. His books include The Mediterranean Runs Through Brooklyn, Valentino and the Great Italians, Lefty and Her Gangsters, The Little Sailor, BART: A Life of A. Bartlett Giamatti, Anita Garibaldi: a Biography, Toni Cade Bambara's One Sicilian Night and JOHN DANTE'S INFERNO, a Playboy's Life. His stories have appeared in the Paris Review and his work has been anthologized by The Viking Press and Random House. Mr. Valerio has taught at New York University, The City University of New York and Wesleyan University. He is a member of PEN and The Authors Guild.
"He's just crazy enough-He knows his people-He knows his craft-He gets in, tells his story and gets out-It's what good writing should be."
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.
"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