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A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (edition 2006)
by Dito Montiel
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786167939, Audio CD)“As far back as i can remember ... i can remember manhattan.” Orlandito “Dito” Montiel, son of Orlando, a Nicaraguan immigrant and an Irish mother, grew wild in the streets of Astoria, Queens, pulling pranks for Greek and Italian gangsters and confessing at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, gobbling hits of purple mescaline and Old English, sneaking into Times Square whore houses—“Kids from nowhere going nowhere.” At fourteen, Dito watched as his best friend and surrogate older brother, Antonio, beat another kid to death with a baseball bat during a gang fight.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is the quintessentially American story of a young man’s hunger for experience, of his dawning awareness of the bigger world across the bridge, and of the loyalties that bind him to a violent past and to the flawed and desperate “Saints” that have guided him—a streetwise Meetings with Remarkable Men with echoes of Whitman and Kerouac, Saturday Night Fever, and Dion and the Belmonts.
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:10 -0400)
Montiel's saints run the gamut from omniscient priests to wacky con artists. In his rambling memoir of growing up in the 1970s and '80s in a tough Queens neighborhood, he escapes to the East Village to emerge as a Calvin Klein underwear model and lead singer of the punk band Gutterboy. Montiel's childhood was rough but thrilling. "[I]n our neighborhood we would take your everyday type of kids' game and throw in an extra little consequence clause that no one else seemed to have." Games escalated from stealing from the church poor box (consequence: 50 Hail Mary's from saint number one, Father Angelo) through peeing through the windows of Mafioso hangouts (consequence: "being chased by crazy Dimitrios with a meat cleaver") to gang fights (consequence: Montiel's pal Antonio [another saint] kills a guy with a baseball bat and spends six years in prison). When the scene shifts to the sex-, drugs- and punk rock-ridden Lower East Side, Montiel's love affair with Manhattan predominates, as he roams the city with girlfriends, junkies and his mother (more saints) and hangs out with Allen Ginsberg (whose photos of Gutterboy appear in the book) and Warhol protegee Cherry Vanilla. Several Kerouac-like road trips feature the thrill and beauty of being "crazy high" in a non-New York world. Montiel tells his entertaining, sad tales with a combination of affection, glee and nostalgia. He's managed to escape the dismal fate of many of his childhood cohorts, while still cherishing and embracing their humanity. -- From Publishers Weekly
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