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Dodging Satan: My Irish/Italian, Sometimes Awesome, But Mostly Creepy, Childhood by [McCormick, Kathleen]
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Dodging Satan: My Irish/Italian, Sometimes Awesome, But Mostly Creepy, Childhood Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 191 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

Gold and Silver EVVY winner! First Place in Religion and Spirituality and Second Place winner in Humor. Bronze winner of an Illumination Award in Catholic books (Pope Francis won the Gold!). Now a Foreword Review finalist.

A girl, roiled by emergent sexuality, conflicting emotions toward parents, an extended family of abusive men and unhappy women: the protagonist in this playful but gripping tale draws on a hilarious mishmash of Catholic popular culture, creating outrageous cosmic narratives to make sense of it all. Catholics will recognize it; those who didn’t have access to the Catholic Imagination while growing up will be jealous.  Michael P. Carroll, Madonnas that Maim; Catholic Cults and Devotions; The Cult of the Virgin Mary

A coming of age feminist consciousness story that navigates gender in the contexts of domestic and celestial hierarchies. In Bridget’s world, frightening and glorious relationships exist between phosphorous and holiness, virgins and bicycles, crucifixes and spices, exorcism and mascara. Zamboni-McCormick renders scenes that run the gamut from laugh-out-loud Catholic brainwashing of children, to heart-wrenched witnessing of domestic violence, to riveting teenage excursions toward sex.   Annie Rachele Lanzillotto, L is for Lion: an italian bronx butch freedom memoir

Tender and ruthlessly honest, Kathleen McCormick's beautiful first novel draws us into the world of Italian Irish Catholicism as experienced by its unforgettably wise and desperately innocent girl narrator. There's magic in this world--and while we are charmed by its glow, we are also unsettled again and again by the darkness behind that glow. We follow Bridget with trepidation, captivated by her vulnerability and her fierceness, trusting there's much to learn from her journey. Edvige Giunta, Writing with an Accent; Personal Effects

 

 

About the Author

Kathleen Zamboni McCormick is a professor of literature and writing at Purchase College, State University of New York, where she has won many teaching awards and her creative and academic writings have been widely recognized. They include the Modern Language Association’s Mina Shaughnessy Award, the Bent Creativity Award, first prize in the Tiny Lights personal essay competition, and a New Millennium Writings Award. Her fiction has been published in Calyx, The Dirty Goat, Fugue, Italian Americana, Northwest Review, Kestrel, Paterson Literary Review, Northwest Review, Phoebe, PMS poemmemoirstory, The Rambler, A River and Sound Review, South Carolina Review, Superstition Review, Westview, Willow Review, and Witness, Zone 3, among others. McCormick lives in New York with her husband and cat. More information can be found on her website, www.kathleenzmccormick.com.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 898 KB
  • Print Length: 191 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1937818322
  • Publisher: Sand Hill Review Press; 1 edition (18 Nov. 2015)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0187OW2OM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #713,373 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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A very different read – but totally laugh out loud! I found myself chuckling out loud at many parts of this books. Increasingly and recently I have found myself dawn away from my usual thrillers and drawn further and further into the satire genre. This is unusual for me, but when I find gems like this book, I found myself totally rewarded. The author, Kathleen McCormick, has a great sense of humor. You can definitely tell from the way that this book is written, that the author has had first hand experience in these matters. She grew up in a religious family and that is clearly where the inspiration for Dodging Satan has come from. Mostly the content is clean in this book, even if it does describe and lean towards some less wholesome teenage exploratory activities. But on the whole I found it inoffensive. If you are looking for an entertaining and fun read that doesn't take itself too seriously, then I would recommend this one.
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Format: Paperback
Dodging Satan is a refreshing and delightful perspective of a young catholic girl growing up with only enough knowledge about God that she haunts herself. Her overactive imagination distresses her parents when they just can’t quite understand her reasoning.
Kathleen McCormick is such an enchanting storyteller, reading this book makes you want to hear her tell the stories in person just to see her facial expressions. I loved reading about her family ties, even the ones that are bizarre. I have to laugh at the drama from an Irish/Italian family. Both have a heritage known for excessive temperaments, and strong beliefs.
My favorite story about her childhood would have to be when she thought God really lived in her crucifix because it glowed in the dark. She was really baffled when her father received slippers that glowed in the dark also. Why would God want to be with stinky feet?
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Format: Kindle Edition
Religious satire often cuts to the knuckle whilst being lacking in genuine humour, but Dodging Satan gets it just about perfect. Take it as a given that the writing is excellent. I visited Kathleen McCormick’s website after reading the book and wasn’t at all surprised that she teaches writing! Now it probably helps that I come from a strong Catholic community and could relate to much of the story on a personal level, in addition to which some brilliant one liners and nicely nuanced dialogue really bring everything to life.
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Regressing, humorous, and downright entertaining!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 49 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ‘A is for angels (and Alleluia). B is for bombs. C is for crucifix. D is for dead.’ 15 July 2016
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
New York author Kathleen Zamboni McCormick grew up in Cambridge, MA, in a tense Irish/Italian Catholic family whose contradictions were both hilarious (in retrospect) and frightening and form the nidus for her debut novel, ‘Dodging Satan: My Irish/Italian Sometimes Awesome But Mostly Creepy Childhood.‘ She has authored and coauthored books on reading and teaching world literature. Her educational background is both Boston College and the University of Connecticut and she now is a professor of Literature at SUNY Purchase, and has won national awards for her academic work--about innovative ways to teach writing and (no surprise!) Irish and Italian literature. In addition to her writing and teaching, she finds pleasure in arts & crafts, sewing, knitting, crewel work, and embroidery, claiming that "if I weren't a writer and an academic, I'd have become a weaver. The pleasure I take in fabrics is something that certainly comes through in Dodging Satan. The weaver in me I hope is also evident in the ways in which I write digressively and then work every detail back into the main fabric of the story."

Kathleen has that style of writing that is both hilarious and poignant simultaneously. How? By creating a fictional novel that closely parallels her childhood experiences and while being a coming of age story it goes beyond just that as a dissection of Catholicism and its influences on children and adults who act like children! Read simple the titles to the chapters of her book offers a fine glance at the jewels within, but getting a taste of the manner in which she places words on the page is a better introduction to her gifts. She opens ‘Why is God in daddy’s slippers?’ with ‘The Italian and Irish sides of our family can argue about almost anything— the thickness of porridge, how much people can drink before they’re officially alcoholics, and which side acts more like “bloody foreigners.” But they all agree on the sacredness of the crucifix. An uncle on each side survived an attack in WWII that killed the rest of their platoons— all because they were wearing their crucifixes. I volunteer to tell the story of the miracle of my uncles’ salvation to my second grade class. The bombs were bursting in air. My uncles, years before my birth, were staring at the rockets’ red glare. The rockets were about to come down on them when they touched their crosses around their necks, and God touched them back. A heavenly host of angels singing alleluia held up American flags against our enemies who didn’t believe in God. And all of this to save my two uncles, Johnny Flaherty and Tony Alonzo. God is Italian. Or Irish. Either way, He was on our side. That’s why we won.’ And it just gets better!

The synopsis provides a map of the tale: ‘Bridget Flagherty, a student at St. Michael’s Catholic school outside Boston in the 60s and 70s, takes refuge in her wacky misunderstandings of Bible Stories and Catholic beliefs to avoid the problems of her Irish/Italian family life. Her musings on sadistic nuns, domestic violence, emerging sexuality, and God the Father’s romantic life will delight readers. Bridget creates glorious supernatural worlds—with exorcisms, bird relics, Virgin Martyrs, time travel, Biblical plagues, even the ‘holy’ in holy water—to cope with a family where leather handbags and even garlic can cause explosions. An avid Bible reader who innocently believes everything the nuns tell her, Bridget’s saints, martyrs, and boney Christs become alive and audible within her. While the nuns chide her sinful ‘mathematical pride’ and slow eating habits, God answers her prayers instantly by day, but the devil visits nightly in the dark. Scenes run the gamut from laugh-out-loud Catholic brainwashing of children, to heart-wrenching abuse, to riveting teenage excursions toward sex. Young Bridget tries to make sense of a world of raging men and domestically subjugated women and carve a future for herself, wrestling with how God and men treat women. Her Italian female relatives—glamorous Santa Anna, black-and-blue Aunt Maria, sophisticated Eleanor with a New York ‘Fellini pageboy’—offer sensual alternatives to the repression of her immediate family. She prays fervently that “despite God’s bizarre treatment of married women... some [girls] might still discover ways to have a great time without being a nun.”

Kathleen Zamboni McCormick, welcome to the arena of the finest in contemporary comedic writing. Her future is assured. Grady Harp, July 16
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sometimes awesome, but mostly creepy 29 April 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I sold three copies of Dodging Satan, My Irish Italian, sometimes awesome, but mostly creepy, childhood by Kathleen Zamboni McCormick while reading it under a hair dryer as I waited for my highlights to “take.” My second read still brought several LOL moments that were met with various looks from those under nearby dryers. One, woman, who’s expression matched Estelle Reiner’s “When Harry Met Sally” Deli scene, asked what I was reading. I handed her the book. The back cover has, “Move over, Jean Shepherd,” and Josephine Gattuso Hendin states in her liner note, “It outdoes Mary McCarthy’s Memories of a Catholic Girlhood,” and, like Shepherd and McCarthy, McCormick is a master at capturing the voice of a younger character while being winningly charming and disarmingly funny. But, there’s also a pensive, darkly mysterious side to McCormick’s young Catholic school girl coming of age story that put me in mind of Flannery O’Connor; like O’Connor, for McCormick’s protagonist religious faith doesn’t serve to comfort but more to instruct, to prepare one for battle. McCormick explores the inner life of her young narrator with an exquisite eye for detail, especially in her use of dialogue and dialect. Alternately hilarious and poignant, this warmly told memory interweaves meditations on class and family values, religion and feminism, sex and sexuality, illusion and reality, revealing a unique voice with the gifts of a natural born storyteller. To quote my new acolyte under the dryer, “Oh God, growing up in the 60’s, and Catholic school, ya godda read this.”
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet McCormick talks about a Catholic world that seems more like the forties and fifties or earlier 7 May 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In her newly published novel, “Dodging Satan”, Kathleen Zamboni McCormick portrays her childhood growing up in the 60’s under an Italian mother and Irish father in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This was the time when norms and rules were falling rapidly by the wayside. Yet McCormick talks about a Catholic world that seems more like the forties and fifties or earlier. Hers is a world of Satan harassment, holy water cures, saints curing, and bishops and priests scaring people and children to death. There are the nuns promising hell for the sin of pride. Not to mention the plenitude of sexual sins that clergy and religious know you are guilty of. It is also a time of Irish and Italians marrying outside their clan and to each other. Something that was once unthinkable.. At any rate this is a religious talk dominated book with superstition and nuns galore. With parents, religious, clergy and relatives doing their best to screw up a child’s mind.

Those of us who have grown up Irish or Italian Catholic are familiar with all the phobia and non -truths that abound. In Bride’s case she has an all-in-one with a cantankerous father and self pitying mother who was taught that enduring a husband’s abuse goes with the territory. The same with her mother’s sisters who are taught by her Italian Nana to stay with their abusive husbands because that is the right thing to do. With such a glorious upbringing Bridget finds God in her daddy’s glow in the dark slippers and Satan all over her room at night. Which mom assures her will go away with an abundance of holy water and statues of Mary. Finally, Bridget’s mother calls out the whole brigade: All three persons of the Trinity, Mary and her daughter’s guardian angel. It seems to help for the short term at least.

The way the nuns laid guilt trips on Bridie one wonders how she ever made it to be a college professor. She even wonders how she got this power to harm Jesus and children in Africa. “Do you realize that children in Africa will be more hungry today than they were yesterday? All because of you, Bridget!” Sister Louise hollers. “Yes,” I lie. I knew that being eight years old would be terrible after what happened to my parents at that age— my mother almost dying of scarlet fever and my father’s mother dying of TB. Now I’m time-traveling to hurt Jesus and African children. I hate being eight.” I’ll say. No wonder some children stop attending the Eucharist once they graduate 8th grade. Sister Louise gives Bridget no credit for her superior math skills as she condemns her for her vanity in doing so well. I guess we should not get on the type of nuns Bridget grew up with so much since we do live in a world where the quack Donald Trump is able to get so many to support him.

Bridget has a lot to say about how unfair God was to punish women with painful deliveries when Adam ate the apple too. And why did God have to make Eve from Adam and making her second rate from the beginning? Why is Eve blamed so much when Adam ate the apple too?

Growing up in a public school I always marvelled at my Catholic school friends who talked so irreverently about religious people and subjects. Jokes about Gabriel’s horn and such that I would not dare to say. Same with Dodging Satan where Bridget and her friend believe that God the Father was jealous of Adam and wanting Eve for himself. I will still refrain from quoting the graphic rendering of a prayer which Bridget friend’s Agnes declares is a direct proof that God the Father wanted Eve for himself. Not only that but Agnes refers to God as “God the F.” There is no curse word intended but the connotation startles. Perhaps I am more naive than most. But I never saw God the Father described or named that way. “Agnes is right about Adam and Eve and that vengeful God-the-F who still punishes women today for marrying men who aren’t Him.”
There you have it. God, according to Agnes, is at the center of all these triangles. “...how incredibly on-target Agnes was for seeing how central Eve is to everything and how God-the-F repeatedly creates love triangles. I mean, first it’s Eve, Adam, and Him. Then it’s God-the-F, Gabriel, and Mary. Or God-the-F, Joseph, and Mary. And finally and forever, it’s every married woman, her husband, and Him.” Maybe this is what Andrew Greeley meant when he talked about the great Catholic imagination. I am sure there are more stories that so many of us missed who did not go to Catholic schools.

Dodging Satan is a book that starts slowly and takes a while to get into. But as I persevered I did not want it to end. Bridget does seem to get preachy at the end. Yet her thoughts may ring true to many Catholic women who feel that Mary is not given the true justice as they are not. This novel also is an indication of, whether few or many, how children of Catholic schools are taught a superficial faith or one that is filled with don’ts and superstitions. It is an interesting look into one girl’s life.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How not to raise a Catholic! 17 Sept. 2016
By Billy O. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If we could open up a contest about the world’s most Catholic family, Bridget’s Italian-Irish concoction would definitely top up the rating. The clever girl is raised by the tight glove of religion from both sides of the large family, grows up to become the perfect Catholic and evade Satan’s calling who takes various shapes in her life as a child and young teenager: imaginary snakes coming out of the closet at night, her flirty and cheeky friend Lucy, and the non-avoidable puberty sex drive.

Her parents are not great fans of logic and prefer to keep up the pretense even when strong beliefs are brought into serious question, such as when they pretend to sip the Holy water that seems disgusting because everyone puts their finger in it or when her father refuses to buy her a two-wheeler only because she can fall off it and lose her virginity.

But we all know that Satan can not be easily dodged as he is the other face of God, which becomes increasingly clear for Bridget as time goes by. You couldn’t feel anything less than sympathy for the awesome Bridey, as her mother calls her, who asks some damn good questions about the ridiculousness of some Bible passages when reality strikes: two dead family members in Vietnam although they had their crosses on the chest and wives that get beaten but stay in marriage only because they need to play the role of a good Christian wife.
This is a wonderful story of humor but also sadness and harsh truths. I am very happy that, in the end, Bridget decides to stay friends with Satan who, compared to God she has met, might not be so bad after all!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll remember that voice and its predicaments! 16 Feb. 2016
By Elise Frances Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I’m not a Catholic, yet I found this book to be both hilarious and poignant, and for me, a surprising introduction to traditional Catholic family dynamics, values and beliefs. Even if I were not interested in the culture, I would still relate closely to the main character. McCormick did a masterful job of creating an authentic child’s voice, which managed to age from six to sixteen and still be the same person throughout - not an easy task! As she grew older, her experiences made me remember my own “good” little girl self - the misunderstandings and misperceptions, the urgency of beliefs, and the gradual disillusionments and clashes with adults. Loved the crescendo to the ending (no spoilers here!). Any daughter – or wife and mother, for that matter – would laugh through this book, pausing frequently to sigh, groan, and remember.
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