A recent list of the New York Times top fifteen bestsellers includes books by three TV hosts, two political commentators who often appear on TV, a sports journalist, a rock star, an actor, a Hollywood actress, an activist, and a CEO of a major corporation.
The two books that I have in front of me are at once similar and quite different. What makes them similar is their Italian American context and the semiotic approach that the author, veteran student of the Italian American experience and Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute in New York City, Anthony Julian Tamburri, employs.
Steven Van Zandt's memoir is not a tale of two separate lives. Rather, it is the story of how one can be surprised and rewarded if one manages to stay committed to finding a larger purpose in life than momentary fulfillment.
The relationship between art and identity stands at the heart of the hundreds of letters that Ellisons friend and literary executor, critic John F. Callahan and his co-editor Marc C. Conner, included in The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison, a collection that spans from the early 1930s, when 20-year-old Ellison hoboed on a train to get to Tuskegee to start following his dream of a music career, until June 1993, some nine months before the now celebrated and revered writer died of pancreatic cancer in his adopted hometown of New York City.