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Last Stop On The 6
by Patricia Dunn
Review

LAST STOP ON THE 6

Cover image of the book 'Last Stop On The 6' by author Patricia DunnAngela Campanosi fled her home in the Italian-American enclave of Pelham Bay, the Bronx, after an accident left her brother, Jimmy, an up-and-coming actor, paralyzed.

Now, after a decade as a political activist in Venice, California, Angela is back in her childhood home about to topple her family’s tower of secrets—the truth about her brother’s accident, impending marriage and subsequent disappearance; her alcoholic father’s fall off the wagon; and her former boyfriend’s recovery from heroin addiction. And most of all, why Fat Freddie is tormenting her family.

What could possibly go wrong?

As Angela navigates love, guilt, and red gravy, she learns the price of living in the past, allowing her parents to squeeze her back into her childhood bedroom, and the cost of redemption. LAST STOP ON THE 6 is the express train back to those feelings we thought we left behind and the heartfelt promise of something better when we face them at last.

Cover image of the book 'Last Stop On The 6' by author Patricia Dunn

PATRICIA DUNN

Image of author Patricia DunnPatricia is the author of the young adult novel Rebels by Accident (Sourcebooks Fire). Her writing has appeared on Salon, in The Village Voice, The Nation, LA Weekly, The Christian Science Monitor; in the anthology Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women (Soft Skull); and elsewhere.

She has been Senior Director of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, and is co-founder of The Joe Papaleo Writers Workshop in Cetera, Italy. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

This Italian-American, Bronx-raised, rebel has travelled the world. These days, Patricia can be found on her living room couch working on her next novel, or zooming with aspiring and established writers, of course, always in a suit and tie.

Last Stop on the 6, her first novel for adults, is forthcoming with Bordighera Press, Fall 2021.

Visit Patricia at her website

Follow Patricia on Twitter

Connect with Patricia on Facebook

Cover image of the book 'Last Stop On The 6' by author Patricia Dunn

FIRST LINES

CHAPTER ONE

“It was the night of January 12, 1991, after the largest protest in Los Angeles since Vietnam. We had three days left to stop a war. I’d been center stage, had shouted until my face flamed, until thousands chanted, “NO BLOOD FOR OIL.” Now I found myself in a holding cell, sharing a cold concrete bench with another woman, who hadn’t meant to stab her pimp in the neck. She’d been aiming for his eyeball”

Cover image of the book 'Last Stop On The 6' by author Patricia Dunn

MEMORABLE LINES

“Dad was the dreamer and Mommy was the sledgehammer who smashed those dreams to smithereens”

.

“Passive resistance was empowering”

.

“People in this neighborhood, in my family, didn’t say sorry for what they did wrong. Instead, they apologized for what they didn’t do”

.

“Jimmy needed a wife who could stand up to his mother, not some sweeter-than-saccharine wimp, a woman who tasted delicious but was carcinogenic”

.

“Whatever you do in this world – and I don’t care what it is, if it makes you money, or makes you happy – but do what makes you feel the way the woman on that screen feels. You care, it matters. Passion. Now that’s what I’m talking about”

.

“You ran away because you loved too much, and your heart wasn’t strong enough to take it all in. It needed to mature a little”

Cover image of the book 'Last Stop On The 6' by author Patricia Dunn

REVIEW

“Can you ever really go home again?”

Okay, confession time first!

From the very first page, this storyline reminded me so much of one so very similar, written by an author who hailed originally from New Jersey (not a million miles away from The Bronx), and which I was fortunate enough to review some years ago. That book, was by the author’s own admission, part fiction, part autobiography and part self-actualization, so I made some rather rash assumptions and spent copious amounts of time trawling Patricia’s website and any interviews she had given, for any inkling that Last Stop On The 6 might be in any way personal to her.

Oh! How I wish I had read the very, very last page of my download first, as the question which had been hanging in the air from the moment I read the first words of the story, would have been answered right away and I could have stopped torturing myself, wondering how I could objectively do true justice to any review of quite so personal a story.

From the very first sentence, this story hit the ground running and the adrenalin fuelled levels of angst and ‘what the f***’ ( that word is used quite copiously throughout, but always in keeping with the usual language and behaviour of the characters and never gratuitously) action never let up until the ‘fat lady had finished singing’, or in this case, until the wedding of the year had been successfully conducted, and for once the lights went out on a peaceful scene of domesticity – but I suspect only until the next time, which I’m sure won’t be too far away!

I laughed ’til I cried. Then cried ’til I laughed, and all the emotions in between, sometimes without ever really knowing why, but possibly just because my senses were on such overload and so flooded with the narrative and dialogue surrounding this surely one-of-a-kind, original, quirky and very dysfunctional family and their day-to-day comedy of errors, called life. Their troubles are  heartfelt, and take on serious fundamental issues, but at the same time they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously, it really is all just so much ‘noise’ and posturing. Although I think that just about every family has a tale to tell, or maybe more than one, which resonates with at least some of the multitudinous issues which Angela, her family unit and circle of close friends have to deal with, to have this many catastrophes all come together, in a pressure cooker environment which always sounds fit to explode at any moment, really does just beggar belief and had me suspending all sense of reality in the situation, whilst unable to stop reading and not being able to turn the pages fast enough, to see what happened next! It seemed as though just about every one of the Ten Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins were all broken at the same time, in a vast kaleidoscopic image of fractured pieces! A terrible life-changing event from the past, threatens the potential for a brighter future, unless Angela can come to terms with the fact that she has the power to shape and change her own destiny, rather than follow the deprecating path of self-doubt and guilt she has set for herself, especially when she learns that her brother Jimmy, the subject of her guilty conscience, has a flipping huge secret of his own. Given Angela’s random thought processes and knee-jerk actions, when she knows the truth, whether Jimmy will live long enough to make it to the altar, is anybody’s guess!

This was a multi-layered, highly textured and tactile, intense storyline, which despite its seemingly haphazard construction, was in fact thoughtfully and seamlessly structured, fluid, fluent and beautifully rich in atmosphere. At times sad and poignant, it asks the question, “do we ever really leave home, yet can we ever truly go back?” I was totally immersed in the day-to-day life of the characters, invited into their world like a long lost friend,  as the visuality and depth engendered by the author’s words brought them to life and lifted them from the pages. Wonderfully quick-witted, penetrating, unconventional and unique, replete with numerous observational, descriptive and anecdotal everyday incidents, this was real-life storytelling at its very best, told with consummate ease and authority, but always from the heart.

The package however, would be nothing without its cast of disparate, colourful and highly emotionally charged, larger-than-life characters, who each have an important and pivotal role to play in the eventual end game. Each is well drawn and defined, complex and volatile, raw and passionate and are not quite always reliable witnesses with a good code of ethics. However they are also addictive and amusing, vulnerable and searching for a sense of belonging, have a great dynamism and synergy between them and are generally genuine and believable behind that bluff exterior. The constant sniping and feuding is like an unconscious normality for them, they just can’t help themselves, so used to it have they become. But deep down, although they have often been beaten by the injustices of life and circumstance, they still have the one quality which Angela is about to discover conquers all – Love!

I look at the svelte image of author Patricia Dunn and have to assure her, that I’m sure I am not alone when I admit that we women of a certain age and expanded girth, like Mommy, still keep a small handful of those ‘slutty’, slinky size 6 & 8 little numbers, tucked right at the back of our wardrobes, as a reminder of way back when and what might be again when we shed the excess stones and can get back into them!! Okay! I will admit that the Dallas, Dynasty style shoulder pads, which did come back into fashion again briefly a couple of seasons ago, were finally consigned to the vintage online shop of my local hospice charity and I now have the balls to admit that the chances of me ever seeing size 6 again, is a pie-in-the-sky fantasy dream, but along with Mommy, I still covet those one or two items, for old-times sake!

Whilst my own, and possibly not too many of my fellow readers’ own personal experiences, could quite mirror or live up to the extremes of life in the Marchesi / Campanosi / Petrolli household, this book definitely took me on a totally unique and individual rollercoaster journey, which left me feeling a little battered, bruised and slightly queasy. So I recommend you read this one for yourself and see where your journey leads you!

Image of author Patricia Dunn

A complimentary copy of this book, for review purposes, was made available by publicist Meryl Moss Media

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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18 comments
  • I really admire you, Yvonne, for taking on some of these books because I would probably shy away from this one as being ‘too much’ of an intense reading experience. Too much chaos, if you know what I mean. But after your review I possibly ought to rethink that. I am after all really interested in the USA and what life is like there.

    I hope you and your husband are doing ok? Peter and I are fine but our youngest daughter, her partner and her son all have Covid. I was mentally prepared as they’re out in the world working normally or at school and I knew it was a possibility, but the phonecall still knocked me for six. They’re coping but my daughter’s partner has had a rough ride. I think if he hadn’t had the vaccine he would be in hospital. Who would’ve thought that 18 months after the first lockdown we’d still be going through this?

    • If you don’t like chaos, then you probably wouldn’t get along with this family. I was beginning to get a bit glassy-eyed with all their individual traumas and just how many people seemed to be constantly coming and going from one modest sized apartment.

      Despite all the ups and downs, overall the book did make me happy and smiley though, which is no bad thing.

      Not wishing to stereotype, but given the location and the Anglo-Italian background of the family, I can imagine that this would be the reality of life. Definitely not something I could ever have got used to and certainly not now, when we both crave the comfort and solace of our small corner of the world!

      I must admit that some books are taking me way out of my comfort zone and I am still in two minds about how to tackle this going forwards. I have decided to review based as much on how a book made me feel, as what the writing style etc was like. It will all depend on the individual storyline. One day I shall feel settled about what I am doing, but right now personal stuff just keeps getting in the way of constructive thought!

      I am so sorry to hear about your daughter and her family and I hope that none of them suffer any ‘Long Covid’ side effects. This is what I worry about with Dave still going out to work, as he works in a really busy office/customer facing environment and it sounds as though he works with a couple of dozen people who really believe that this is all over and it won’t happen to them. The office has already had to close down three times because someone has gone in Covid positive and I really worry about him because of his heart. Also, as he is by far the oldest person working there now, he is one of the few to qualify for a booster jab. As he works for the government, there is no chance of him working from home, which he could quite easily do, as they need to set an example after telling the general public that they needed to go back into their workplaces.

      My 6 year old great nephew has Covid at the moment, although thankfully mum, dad and sister have all escaped infection. Apparently you would only have known that something was wrong because the timbre of his voice changed and they erred on the side of caution by testing him. Apart from that he is full of beans and wanting to go back to school. Of course my SIL (his Nanny) who had the kidney transplant, was babysitting just the day before the test, as he had a TD day off school, so we were all holding our breath that she didn’t catch it, but so far, so good!

      We are trying to strike a balance between staying safe and going out whenever we feel it is appropriate, but it only takes a second to catch Covid, so that is a bit of a flawed strategy really I suppose. Relatives are busy planning holidays abroad, going to concerts in crowded arenas and organising Christmas parties – I’m not interested I’m afraid, although I am beginning to get the reputation of being a bit of a “bah! humbug” 🙂

      I do hope that your family recovers soon, but more importantly that Peter and yourself keep safe and well 🙂

  • I enjoy stories like this at times (and sometimes they’re great for taking your mind off your own dysfunction), but I’m not sure I’m in the mood for it now. Thanks for providing the link to “red gravy”. I wasn’t sure what it was, either! I don’t think it’s a gravy that would be enjoyed much at my house.

    • This family manged to display just about every human emotion within the pages of the book, as they were so volatile and verbal in their exchanges. At times it was difficult to see how any of them actually managed to get heard in amongst all the extraneous noise of everyday life, most of it of their own making I have to say.

      I really didn’t anticipate enjoying this story quite as much as I did, although I’m not sure that I could face any of the ‘red sauce’ either, after the meal time episode in which it featured!

      I appreciate that you took the time to comment, despite this not being a book you would enjoy reading right now 🙂

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and for your lovely comments.

      It is good to know that I hit the mark with my review and I appreciate your support 🙂

  • You really loved the book. It sounds very interesting and I’m intrigued. Usually I am not keen on swearing in novels, but it’s necessary if the character “needs” it.
    I hope you have a wonderful weekend. xx

    • Given that the characters are American New Yorkers and Anglo-Italian, I did manage to forgive the swearing as something which would probably be culturally correct, as the author was also raised and still lives in the same area of The Bronx.

      I am so pleased that both my husband and I come from small families, I know I couldn’t stand the angst of all those relatives squashed together in one small apartment, especially as Momma not only as her first husband still living there, but her new partner too!

      Doing jobs around the house this weekend, so nothing exciting.

      I hope that you are both well 🙂

  • Fantastic review Yvonne! I’m glad you enjoyed Last Stop in the Six so much. I think you can always go back home again but you probably won’t be the same person you were when you left. Happy reading this week!

    • Aw! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for your kind words, I always appreciate your visits 🙂

      We sometimes do a ‘down memory lane’ tour, if we go back to either my home town or Dave’s, to visit relatives still living there. Whilst all the houses that both of us grew up in, are still standing, much of the surrounding town and countryside landscape has changed almost beyond recognition, and we both find ourselves getting a little nostalgic about it.

      Have a lovely Tuesday and I hope that all is well with you. We have now been booster jabbed, so with three Covid shots inside us and a ‘flu shot, we should both be good for the winter – fingers crossed! 🙂

  • This sounds like such an interesting read!!! Must add it to the growing pile, which you are feeding!! Thank you so much

    • I do enjoy an eclectic mix of books and just recently authors and publishers have kept me supplied with some interesting, intriguing and often very unique storylines, which I may not otherwise have noticed!

      This is a great study of family dynamics and culture, but I have to admit I am so pleased that my own family is so small and boring by comparison!

      Thanks for stopping by and have a great end to the week! 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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