- Paperback: 230 pages
- Publisher: 3 Swallys Press (31 Aug. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0988230003
- ISBN-13: 978-0988230002
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 902,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Lunatic Heroes Paperback – 31 Aug 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
The most beautiful thing about it, about him, is the sheer humanity of his writing. Akin to Amanda Palmer's songs, he holds nothing back. His honesty is something to admire - It takes a lot to tell the truth, no matter how brutal.
The final chapter, 'Hate', was to me both stunning and hilarious. It tells an incredible story, but reminded me of one of the many reasons I love being from the UK. We are exceptional at hating things. And people. And inanimate objects. As a country we are unified in silent hatred of pretty much everything (ourselves very much included), and we are all often thinking "KILL!" - making everything easier to laugh at. Martignetti writes directly to the audience, addressing each reader personally, never placing himself above. I intend to venture to the US next year, I hope your his regular spot serves good coffee.
I fully intend to share this book with as many people as I can, a few friends are already queuing up to read it (hopefully I can convince a few to buy it!), and I'm sure it will go far.
Now, I give Mr Martignetti the highest compliment an artist can receive, a request: MORE!
I am thoroughly in love with this book, and the style in which it is written. Martignetti had a tremendous talent for recalling key events in his life with ferocious honesty. I honestly cannot recommend this book enough.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
By C. Anthony Martnetti
In the introduction to Lunatic Heroes by C. Anthony Martignetti, singer/songwriter/musician/rockstar Amanda Palmer writes, "Anthony is a therapist, and a good listener."
That succinct characterization, included in a moving introduction about her lifelong relationship with Martignetti, whom she has known as a "mentor," "guru," [and] "best friend" since she was nine years old, describes in accurate and deliberate understatement the narrative voice of this powerful storyteller in his book, Lunatic Heroes. The title, which refers to his boyhood family, in reality, of course, describes all of us who suffer as fellow captives in the Human Condition.
This collection of stories both long and short amounts to a memoir of Martignetti's youth, growing up in the outskirts of Boston amid his Italian-American forebears. A sensitive boy who often felt isolated and outcast, his innate discomfort and alienation was reflected in early habits of nail-biting, self-afflicted hickeys, and a general resistance to most of the food his family routinely ate, "including, but not limited to: whole-roasted goat head ... pigs' feet, congealed blood pie, baby cow stomachs ... [and] "[g]arlic, garlic, and more garlic, garlic out your butt." As a result he was routinely insulted and beaten by his narcissistic mother, who would at other times smother him in love he craved, but whose mood would rarely last the day without including a dark turn. "Home was the place of love's promise," Martignetti observes, "and also the place where the wounds of love churned."
The stories and characters aren't all dark, some are positively comic (if darkly comic at that), with anecdotes of school friends and extended families and a larger-than-life grandfather who would let young Anthony carry a bag of cash to the bank, while "Nonno" followed behind, loaded gun in hand. The author often manages to strike an ironic if rueful tone even when describing routine lunacies, such as his mother gluing Lee Press-On Nails over his own in order to keep him from nail-biting - which led to his acquiring a taste for the plastic nails, which she would sometimes hand him as a treat when out in public, like giving a child a piece of candy.
Young Anthony's relationship with his father was no less complex, tracking a range of highs and lows that eventually led to his father's confession when "...years later he told me he loved me because I was his son, but that I just wasn't his type of guy." The author adds, "He was my idol, and I needed to be his type of guy." Don't we all.
The best non-fiction literature is that which uses the micro to illustrate the macro, and the compelling beauty of Martignetti's stories can be found in the parallel truths unique to his experience that lie side-by-side with truths that are unmistakably universal, and the tension and balance between the two keeps one riveted to the page. I laughed, I cried ...
In a tale of a mystic and magisterial bullfrog, a longtime resident at the local pond, Martignetti looks back on the cruelties of older boys who eventually trap the animal - a moment in which I had to turn away from the page in fear of impending cruelty - and draws connection and insight between the tragic creature and those Buddhist monks who immolated themselves in protest against an oppressive North Vietnamese regime. Looking back, "The monk who gave his life was a hero to me, as was Bullfrog before him."
Martignetti's super power is the ability to see these connections that are invisible to or overlooked by others, and the simultaneous humor and horror thereby revealed is impossible to turn away from. In recounting a first childhood crush, and its encompassing sense of inchoate longing, he recalls, "I had no idea what to do with her - I was a rabbit chasing a tricycle." Comic or tragic, the author's vision is unfailingly 20-20.
I read "Lunatic Heroes" not really understanding what I was getting into. I ordered this book and his next book through an offer on his website. I know of him through Amanda Palmer who writes about her relationship with him as her mentor and friend in her book and she also writes the preface of Lunatic Heroes.
The book is a series of stories from Martignetti's childhood with all of the many faceted characters that played roles in his personal life growing up. He pulls no punches in allowing us to see these characters through the eyes of a young boy at a time when life appeared more peaceful than it actually was. Appearances were paramount in the 1950's and the reader is met head on in this matter by his choice of cover photo. The theme of appearances weighs heavy on the young Martignetti and we get a unique view of this from a gifted writer who is brave enough to show us how this weight impacted his world as a child in a candid and charming manner.
It wasn't long before the stories of Martignetti's childhood had me enthralled. He is a gifted storyteller and has a way of capturing the tone of the time of his youth without relying on popular culture references but leaning into a common point of association for any child growing up using his acute memory of what these experiences felt like as a boy. This allows for a rich resonance in the stories that will appeal to anyone who has any recollection of their childhood at all. This is not a jolly romp but a rich mining; a charming and sometimes humorous yet courageous telling of one boy's rich, chaotic and dysfunctional youth. I highly recommend it.