“Adria Bernardi’s characters are in love with the mysteries and quirks and strange inevitabilities of language and its power to shape memory. Bernardi’s stories, which range from Chicago to Italy, have both strength and a lovely delicacy, and are deeply rooted in her own fascination with language.”
- Jane Hamilton
"Here at last is fiction worth of award. With crystalline prose, Bernardi illuminates the gentle fatalism and inextricable sadness of Italian families here and across the sea.”
- Grace Anne DeCandido, Booklist
“I would describe the connective thread between the narratives as DNA—and I’m not making a metaphor. The individuals in the short narratives are carrying specific DNA through time, so that the work is not about family in the “Godfather” sense of in the generational novel sense with which we are so familiar, but rather about human survival through time itself, with our without the people involved having a conscious sense of connectedness to each other.”
- Frank Conroy, Judge, the Drue Heinz Prize
“The stories loosely trace a family from Italy during the 1500s to modern-day Chicago, with a return to Italy at the end. Because of this loose plot line, the collection takes on some of the energy of a novel. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of this book is its exquisite use of language.”
- Tony Ardizzone
from “In the Gathering Woods”
It seemed that I had waited many years before my grandfather, Isaia, asked me to accompany him in his forays, and finally, when I was seven years old, he said to my mother, I think it is time you let the boy come with me.
How the unfolded before me, each taking its place in my mind, I learned from him. Each family, each category. He showed me their habitats, which ones grew in pastures, dead wood, dung. I learned from him how each fell into one of three categories: edible, toxic, mortal. During those many outings, it seemed impossible to me that I would ever know with certainty. How could I be trusted to know the difference between the prugnolo and the deadly tignosa bianca, both blindingly white? Those that were safe were frequently revolting in appearance, while the benign-looking often proved deadly.
from “The Minnie Minoso Cure”
All you have to do is shake his hand.
You don’t have to say anything, or do anything.
He always comes the same time each year, a month before Opening Day. He still has a lot of commitments, he makes lots of guest appearances, but he never forgets to come.
I always enter through the front door, I let them know I’m here. In the lobby, my fellow travellers are slouched and sprawled and hunched in chairs looking at the television set suspended from the ceiling up in the corner, smoking cigarettes. Marlboros. Kools. Every kind you can think of. They never seem to know about his visit, or care, or they would not be sitting there telling war stories and watching Wheel of Fortune. Normally, I stay as far away from that place as I can because hospitals will make you sick.