- February 2019: InStyle names Leading Men as one of 9 Books to Read (or Gift!) this February
- February 2019: Lambda Literary says lots of really nice things about Leading Men in this review, calling it "a compassionate snapshot of a bygone era and a beautiful, if tragic, story of love and remembrance."
February 2019: Library Journal compares Leading Men to F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night in this great review.
A literary alternate history, this new work from Castellani (All This Talk of Love) deftly combines fact and fiction to reimagine the relationship between playwright Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo. It centers on their fictional 1953 trip to Portofino, Italy, to attend a party hosted by writer Truman Capote. There they meet American novelist John Horne Burns and a young Swedish woman, Anja Blomgren, whom Williams and Merlo take on as their project, introducing her to luminaries of the film industry. (In real life, Williams was in Italy at the time, working on the script of Luchiano Visconti’s Senso.) Anja soon meets a Bergman-like Scandinavian director, and her acting career is underway. The chapters alternate among the Italian trip; Frank’s dying in a New York hospital ten years later, hoping for a reconciliation with Williams; and elderly screen legend Anja Bloom, who is staging Williams’s final play in a Provincetown, MA, bar in the 1990s. VERDICT This is a tale of love and loneliness, the personal costs of genius and its attendant fame, and of the ultimate, inconsolable pain of loss. In its depiction of Americans in Europe, its closest literary cousin might be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night.—Lawrence Rungren, Andover, MA.
- January 2019: Kirkus Reviews names Leading Men one of 11 Early 2019 Books We Love.
January 2019: The New York Post names Leading Men one of the Best Books of the Week.
Read the brief summary and see who else made the list.
January 2019: Shelf Awareness review calls Leading Men a "moving story of love, loss, memory, and regret."
Read the full review by Hannah Calkins
January 2019: Booksellers and the ABA have selected Leading Men as one of twenty IndieNext Picks for February 2019
Read the citation from Michael Barnard of Rakestraw Books, along with citations of other wonderful February picks, including The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer, Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken, and Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.
December 2018: The Advocate names Leading Men one of the "Best Books We Read in 2018"
Read the review fromThe Advocate, along with the other titles, including a personal favorite, The Paternity Test by Michael Lowenthal.
December 2018: LitHub lists Leading Men as one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2019
Read the brief preview fromLitHub by Emily Temple, who calls the novel "catnip for readers who are also writers."
December 2018: Publishers Weekly names Leading Men one of the Top 10 Literary Fiction titles for Spring 2019
Read the full list from PW, which includes books by Marlon James, Ian McEwan, Amy Hempel, and others.
November 2018: Publishers Weekly gives Leading Men a starred review!
PW calls Leading Men "spectacular" and says that it "hits the trifecta of being moving, beautifully written, and a bona fide page-turner." Read the full review
November 2018: Publishers Weekly Author Profile: Christopher Castellani Discovers the Truth Through Fiction
Judith Rosen, reporter-at-large atPW, looks back at Christopher's novels, and previews the themes of and backstory behind Leading Men. Read the full article
March 2017: Christopher Castellani in conversation with filmmaker and author John Waters April 12th
On April 12th, Brookline Booksmith and Grub Street present John Waters in conversation with Christopher Castellani, discussing Waters's newest book, Make Trouble. When John Waters delivered his gleefully subversive advice about making a living as a creative person to the graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design, the speech went viral. Now we all can enjoy his sly wisdom that reminds us to embrace chaos, be nosy, and outrage outdated critics. Tickets are required for this event, which will be held at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Get the full details and purchase tickets
March 2015: Christopher has been awarded Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award
Christopher, along with Margaret Atwood and Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, will receive the 2015 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. The awards will be presented at the annual Poets & Writers benefit in New York on March 23. Read the full press release
July 2014: Christopher reads from All This Talk of Love at the Loft Mentor Series (Video)
November 2013: Christopher interviewed by Calandra Italian American Institute (Video)
Dr. Fred Gardaphé talks with Christopher Castellani about All This Talk of Love.
August 2013: Listen to Christopher read at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference
Courtesy of New England Review, listen to Christopher read from All This Talk of Love at the 2013 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.
April 14, 2013: New York Times 'Editor's Choice' Pick
The editors of the New York Times Book Review have chosen All This Talk of Love as an Editor's Choice". This listing appears in the April 12th Sunday Book Review.
April 12, 2013: Review in the Virginian-Pilot
"Don't think for a second that this family is all sweetness and light and pasta Amatriciana," says Bernadette Kinlaw, the daughter of first-generation Italians, in her very positive review of All This Talk of Love. "This is a beautiful, honest book."
April 7, 2013: Review in the Sunday New York Times
Maria Russo examines All This Talk of Love as the lead fiction review in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. In a overall very positive full-page notice, Russo writes:
"This is the third book Castellani has devoted to the Grassos, a series of novels that with their mellifluous, gently satirical style and dark, elegiac heart, form something of an opera buffa of the immigrant experience...In the Grassos and their multilayered conflicts, Castellani has created an answer of sorts to Gay Talese's observation, 20 years ago in these pages, that no serious Italian-American writer has achieved the popular stature of a Scorsese or a Sinatra. Talese described Italian-Americans as the descendants of a people "united in the fear of being found out." Italian-Americans were steered away from academic tracks, he argued, and then for decades even literary-minded Italian-Americans like Talese got a cold shoulder from the publishing establishment. Castellani hasn’t written the big, defining, Scorsese-scale novel Talese was missing...but he has elegantly captured the essence of Talese's argument."
April 1, 2013: Q&A with Deborah Kalb
In this extended Q&A with Christopher, author Deborah Kalb asks about the process of writing All This Talk of Love and about some of the themes that emerge in the novel. One of her questions was the meaning behind the title, to which Christopher responded:
"As an excellent reader pointed out, the Grassos are a family that talks a lot, but doesn't listen to each other. They have strong opinions about how everyone else should behave, and how the world should work, and how people should manage their responsibilities. Each thinks she or he understands love, but each struggles with relationships. Indeed, love is at the core of this family, and it’s what keeps them together while continually threatening to tear them apart. I wanted the title to suggest all of this, and to contain the idea that saying you love someone is crucial, but also quite inadequate."
March 20, 2013: Christopher reads with author Ann Hood, with conversation and Q&A (Video)
Last night at The Strand, that legendary bookstore that takes up quite a big chunk of real estate near Union Square in Manhattan, Christopher read alongside the fabulous Ann Hood, whose new book The Obituary Writer has just been published by Norton. Christopher and Ann read to a packed house of roughly 100 and took questions on various topics.
The Strand just posted this full video of the event if you want to watch Christopher read the first few pages of All This Talk of Love, Ann Hood read two compelling sections from The Obituary Writer, and both authors interact with the audience.
Fast-forward to the end of the video to watch Christopher answer the best question of the night, which came from his eleven year-old niece, Avery Castellani, in the front row.
March 19, 2013: I totally paused! blog review
Having received an ARC of All This Talk of Love from Algonquin, Crystal over at the I Totally Paused! blog was kind enough to offer a strong review.
"This was a wonderfully written novel, though difficult to get through at times because of the family issues it tackles. It's a lovely look into the Grasso family and how an immigrant family deals with the complications of spanning the first couple of generations in a new country . . . This is a good look at family and I would probably recommend this to anyone."
March 18, 2013: Recap on the Lighthouse Writers Blog
If you're a writer or reader living anywhere near Denver, you should spend a lot of time at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Andrea Dupree, Michael Henry and their staff have done a great job creating a vibrant literary arts center, and Christopher was thrilled to give a craft class and a reading there on March 14th.
In what they call their "Top-Secret Blog," Lighthouse recaps Christopher's "Words on Trial" craft class:
"Castellani led a thoughtful close reading of both pieces, inviting lively debate on the implications of word choices, and then providing attendees with his own thorough annotated close readings of [Grace] Paley's and [Mark] Costello's pieces. Paley's story, a slim 350 words, provided the class with a glittering example of how spare images and well-placed repetition employ words that work toward conflict, theme, and character simultaneously."
Here's the full recap. Thank you, Lighthouse!
March 12, 2013: Carve Magazine's Raymond Carver Short Story Contest
Today on their website, the awesome Carve literary journal announced that Christopher will judge its annual Raymond Carver Short Story Contest.
The contest opens April 1, 2013 and closes May 15th, 2013. All submissions will be read anonymously.
March 5, 2013: Interview by Lara Levitan of Story Studio Chicago
In advance of the craft class Christopher will be teaching at Story Studio Chicago on March 26th, writer Lara Levitan conducted a wide-ranging interview that included questions of craft, procrastination, and the most useful writing advice the author ever received. To that last question, Christopher responded:
"I read Richard Bausch's 'Letter to a Young Writer' many times a year. Pretty much everything he says in that essay is the best advice a writer can get. If I had to pick, though, I’d say #1 is to read as much as possible, and #2 is to make writing your part-time job, with set hours, and do it at the same time every day. If it weren’t for #2 in particular, I’d still be working on my first book, waiting for inspiration to strike."
March 1, 2013: From the Nightstand Blog Review
On this first day of March, we find a five-star review from Becky Holland over at From the Nightstand. It was published in late December, but we think her declaration, "This book is a must" is still true today.
February 28, 2013: Review by Crystal King
Novelist, editor, professor and social media maven Crystal King writes a very personal and strong review of All This Talk of Love on her blog. She says, "I am not sure that a book has ever made me feel so moved, so curious and so heartbroken, all at the same time." Thank you, Crystal!
February 22, 2013: Largehearted Boy Book Notes
Is there a cooler blog than Largehearted Boy? On this site, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book. The editor calls All This Talk of Love "poignant and nuanced" and mentions the frequent comparisons to Jonathan Franzen that Castellani has received.
Of his playlist—which you can stream via Spotify on the Largehearted Boy site, and which includes everything from Frank Sinatra to Joni Mitchell to Wyclef Jean—Castellani writes:
"It wasn't until putting [it] together that I realized just how discordant a novel All This Talk of Love turned out to be. I'm quite happy about this discovery. Given that I wanted this book to be about a family in constant disagreement over something or other, stuck in various eras and places in their minds, subject to sudden shifts of emotion, and exhibiting a range of sensibilities, any playlist with a consistent mood would ring false."
February 19, 2013: BookNAround Blog Review
Today, Kristen at the BookNAround blog offers a very thoughtful and strong review of All This Talk of Love. Her final paragraph reads:
"Castellani has written a poignant, slowly revealed novel that captures the close knit Italian family experience and the many and varied ways in which the family members show their love for each other. The characters are all very real feeling although sometimes the explanations or motivations for their actions seemed a bit missing. Even as their deepest held secrets are revealed to the reader, it feels as if there's something still kept back, one final secret not shared. The story itself is slow moving, centered more on the concept of growing older, the power of memory, familial love, and the fallacy of going home again, in mind or in body, than on an action oriented plot. It is an introspective read, with all of the characters having the chance to muse on their own memories and understandings of their shared past especially as life keeps coming at them and subtly altering what they thought they remembered. A satisfying read to be savoured, this is actually the third novel in a loose trilogy but it easily stands on its own."
February 18, 2013: Interview by bestselling novelist Caroline Leavitt
The dynamic Caroline Leavitt asked Christopher about the past's hold on the present, why he's the annoying guy in your favorite cafe, and much more in this interview on her wonderful blog, Carolinleavittville.
February 15, 2013: Three New Blog Reviews
Jen of the Devourer of Books blog recommends All This Talk of Love and calls it a "realistic and moving book." (Read the full review)
Over at the Historical Novels Review blog, the anonymous reviewer concludes:
"All This Talk of Love is a family saga of love and loss and buried secrets. It rings with authenticity of the Italian culture and our integration into America. It leaves readers with much to ponder about the human spirit and family dynamics. An excellent novel."
Mike, aka "Tricky," on his blog Writing Is Tricky, offers a generous recap of Christopher's launch event at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, complete with some great photos of the packed house and the very happy author.
February 14, 2013: All This Talk of Love is BJ's Book Club Selection, plus more reviews
BJ's Wholesale Club has selected All This Talk of Love as its Book Club selection.
In reviews, another positive review of All This Talk of Love has come in from Historical Novel Review:
"Poignant....All This Talk of Love is a family saga of love and loss and buried secrets. It rings with authenticity of the Italian culture and our integration into America. It leaves readers with much to ponder about the human spirit and family dynamics. An excellent novel."
February 9, 2013: All This Talk of Love reviewed in South Coast Today
South Coast Today's Lauren Daley has written a lovely Valentine's Day-themed review of All This Talk of Love
"Familial love is equal to, often times greater than, romantic love. It's the first type of love we learn as humans. That's what makes Christopher Castellani's new novel, All This Talk of Love, so touching."
February 8, 2013: Author Steve Almond interviews Chris for The Rumpus; Book Blogs Show Love
"[All This Talk of Love] is, in my view, an American masterpiece, a tenderly ruthless examination of the bonds of family, the ways in which love perseveres in the midst of insoluble grief and complex regrets. I read the book in a kind of frenzy, feeling all the while that exquisite stab of envy that overtakes us when we feel our own talents eclipsed, and our hearts enlarged. How had my friend managed to cut so deeply into the hearts of his people?"
Book Blog Love
Literary blog Beth Fish Reads has recommended All This Talk of Love!
"All This Talk of Love is a story of love, family, loss, aging, and facing the past. Christopher Castellani's characters are so realistic that it's sometimes difficult to remember that you're reading a novel. Not that every incident is one that could have happened to your own family, but the Grassos are believable as people....All This Talk of Love is recommended to readers who like family stories and realistic characters. In addition, Christopher Castellani brings up some points to ponder. Because of this, the novel would make an excellent book club selection. Readers will likely differ in their reactions to the later part of the book and perhaps to some of [the character] Frankie's choices."
Also, BookReporter.com had this to say about All This Talk of Love:
"Castellani has crafted a beautifully written novel about love, loss, memory, and the importance of family. All This Talk of Love touches upon all these themes, and the Grassos stay with you long after you finish the last page."
February 6, 2013: Boston Globe review of All This Talk of Love & interview in Psychology Today
The Boston Globe ran a review of All This Talk of Love in its February 6th edition. The review, by Suzanne Koven, reads, in part:
"...rich and entertaining....Castellani, artistic director of Grub Street writing center in Boston, juggles multiple stories and characters with remarkable deftness, never striking a false or forced note. His evocations of the love between parents and their adult children, the bittersweetness of age, and the ambivalence of immigrants toward their old and new homes is nuanced and original.
"All This Talk of Love will, no doubt, invite comparisons with Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. Both novels are family tales told in shifting, close third-person perspective, centering around a contentious family reunion. Some will see All This Talk of Love as less ambitious than Franzen's work. But perhaps Castellani's novel just announces its ambitions more quietly than Franzen's did. The suspenseful plot of All This Talk of Love, its delicious readability take nothing away from its emotional depth and power."
Psychology Today ran an interview. You can read the full text at PsychologyToday.com.
- February 1, 2013: Interview in The Italian Times of Milwaukee
January 28, 2013: PW story, "Double Threat: Grub Street's Castellani Practices What He Teaches"
Publishers Weekly has run an article and interview with Chris by Judith Rosen in their January 28th issue. Here's an excerpt:
While Castellani followed the popular dictum, "Write what you know," he says an additional impetus for All This Talk of Love came from Dorothy Allison, who advised, "Write to your fears." In this case, it was his anxiety that his mother—whose sisters died of Alzheimer's—would also succumb to the disease. In the novel, though, Castellani changes most of the details. "One of the things I always tell my students is, if you're going to write about something that happened to you, change [the details] to force yourself to use your imagination. If it occurred in 1995, make it 2005 or 1885."
If Castellani looked to his personal life for inspiration, he found a different kind of assistance at this day job. Grub Street helps writers with craft, a subject Castellani teaches there and at other colleges, including the M.F.A program at Warren Wilson College. But increasingly, with the rising popularity of self-publishing, blogging, and social media, Grub Street has tried to give its students other tools to get their books out. This fall, Castellani turned student, as one of 16 writers with a 2013 book who beta tested a pilot program at Grub Street called Launch Lab. The program is designed to help writers take an active role in the marketing and publicity of their books. For him, it was about "learning who you are as a writer." He came away realizing that he doesn't have to pull himself in so many directions by being on social media constantly. Rather than focusing on Twitter, he's decided that it will be a better, more effective, use of his time for him to reach out to Italian-American groups."
January 24, 2013: Italian Tribune reviews All This Talk of Love
The Italian Tribune has published a lovely review of All This Talk of Love in its January 24th edition.
"All This Talk of Love is a tender and evocative story that coveys both comedy and tragedy in a remarkable novel about what it means to be family...Critics have raved about the novel calling it 'a moving rendition of the losses and discoveries of old age' and 'literature of the highest order.' Drawing on his rich understanding of both Italian culture and the mechanics of family, Chris Castellani paints an incredibly moving, tender and textured portrait of the many generations of the Grassos and the ties that bind them. Castellani's novel is perfect for anyone who has tried to hide a secret of the past or has left a part of themselves in another place. The book deals with the feelings and emotions that are brought to the surface when revisiting what has been left behind."
January 4, 2013: All This Talk of Love selected for IndieNext List
All This Talk of Love has been selected for the IndieNext List for February 2013. Great news!
Here's the review from Stan Hynds of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, VT:
"The final installment in Castellani's Maddalena trilogy is his best yet. This is an instantly engaging and authentic story about a multigenerational Italian-American family planning a trip to their ancestral village. Love, resentment, deception, and tenderness—all the complexities of a family in love and in conflict are handled with beauty and precision. There is not a single false note in this moving novel by a very gifted and assured writer."
April 7, 2011: Christopher in conversation with author Colm Toibín (Video)
Colm Toibín, author of The Empty Family and Brooklyn visited Emerson College in Boston, in an event hosted by Ploughshares Literary Magazine. Toibín guest-edited the Spring 2011 issue of Ploughshares.