Film Analysis of The Natural – Part Four: The Styles Of Acting

Plenty can and has been said about what makes The Natural special behind the camera, but there would be no film without the actors in front of the camera. Actors are sometimes classified by their acting style. There are times when that has more to do with the movie than the actor’s training, but more often than not, a given actor sticks to what suits them.

There are three styles of acting: Stylized, Realistic, and Method. Stylized acting if often over the top and unrealistic, but the role or the movie calls for acting that draws attention to itself. Almost anything by the Marx Brothers or the Stooges would follow this style. Realistic style strives for natural and realistic portrayals of characters, just as the name implies. Method acting is a type or approach to acting based on searching the actor’s own emotions and experiences to find the personal motivation for the role.

Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs

For all of his career, Redford was a realistic actor. His approach in The Natural is likewise realistic. This approach can be seen in his still and unexpressive nature. Or said better, very expressive with the smallest of gestures or facial expressions. It’s been said of Redford that he acts with his eyes, which is true for Roy Hobbs. Examples of Redford’s realistic style could be seen in other well-known roles of his, such as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and John “Kelly” Hooker in The Sting.

Glenn Close as Iris Gaines

As the love interest of Roy Hobbs, Glenn Close plays Iris Gaines as she normally does as a realistic actor. While her co-star in The Natural is another realistic actor, Close has acted around Method actors for the greatest part of her career. But she like Redford was able to keep herself from giving in to the histrionics and often overly emotional expression common to the Method hysteria that ruined so many movies in the 70s when Method dominated Los Angeles and New York.

Wilford Brimley as Pop Fisher

Unlike his co-stars, Wilford Brimley trusted in his Method acting background to perform Pop Fisher in The Natural. One can see the difference between his emotionally based interpretation of Fisher in contrast to Hobbs’s and Gaines’s quiet dynamics. Brimley uses his Method style with more control than others who have rather sloppily misused it. But the role of Pop Fisher required someone with more clear emotions and expressions, as opposed to the smolder in Hobbs.

The Natural is very well acted by everyone in the cast regardless of their style. Their excellence in front of the camera matches the proficiency of all of the roles that went on behind the camera. The result is a classic film superior in both its baseball and mythology.

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Film Analysis Of The Natural – Part Three: The Use Of Sound

Movies are the perfect blend of sight and sound to create something artistic. There is the most obvious sound in the movie, and that’s the actors speaking to each other. There are also the ambient sound of life, which in film is referred to as sound effects. And one of the most memorable aspects of a movie’s sound is the musical sound track recorded for the film.


The most captivating bit of dialogue in The Natural is the conversation between Roy and Iris while Roy is recovering in the hospital. Roy’s biggest flaw is his hubris. He tells Harriet Bird that he wants to be known as the best in the game. He forgot the advice of his father, that even though he has a gift it is not enough. Roy relied too much on himself and was struck down, as any mythical hero guilty of hubris.

There in the hospital, Roy admits his frustration that he will never be known as the greatest to ever play the game. He still hasn’t learned his lesson. Iris chides him for his short-sightedness. She mentions that we have two lives: a young life where we make mistakes and an older life where we learn to live with those mistakes. This definitely describes Roy Hobbs.

Sound Effects

The Natural is filled with sounds from the ballpark. He hear the roar of the crowd, the pop of the ball in the glove, or the crack of the ball off the end of the bat. These are genuine and well done. They add to the fell of honesty in the film even though it is clearly mythology.

Three of the best uses of sound effects have to do with particular home runs. One was the home run in Chicago when Roy shatters the clock in Wrigley Field. The shatter can be heard all throughout the stadium as well as the movie theater. One definitely hears time stop of Roy as he not only ends his slump but reunites with his angel, Iris. Another great home run sound is when Roy breaks the stadium lights in his last at bat that wins the pennant for Pop and end his turbulent relationship with the Judge.

But by far the best sound effect in the movie is the use of lightning. It begins with the lightning that strikes the tree that would late be made into the bat Wonderboy. Lightning strikes at Roy’s first big league at bat just before he knocks the cover off the ball. And finally, lightning strikes just before the final home run that climaxes the movie.


The Natural has a pleasant musical sound track, but nothing I would consider spectacular. To me, the best movie composers are men like Bernard Hermann, Maurice Jaffe, and Enrico Marconi, who were used by directorial greats like Hitchcock, Lean, and Leone, respectively.

But the movie music does its job excellently at the final home run scene. As Roy rounds the bases, our heroic theme escorts him around the bags. We feel the triumph of the moment along with all Knights fans, which we in the audience have become by this point. With no doubt, the sound within The Natural is just as vital as the visual, and both perform excellently is telling a great story.

Movieclip. (October 25, 2012). The Natural (4/8) Movie CLIP – Knock The Cover Off The Ball (1984) HD. [Video file]. Retreived from

Crackle. (January 21, 2010).The Natural. Roy Hobbs smashes the clock tower at Wrigley Field. Mammoth home run [Video file]. Retrieved from

Crackle. (June 15, 2011). The Natural – The Final Homerun [Video file]. Retrieved from

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Film Analysis Of The Natural – Part Two: The Use Of Lighting (Not Lightning)

The use of lighting in The Natural is a tool used to help tell the story. Everything commonly associated with light and dark applies to how these elements are used within the movie. This is more evident when one sees how consistent light and dark are used within the film.


Light and dark may be used throughout The Natural, but they are continually used in association with one character each. Those will be discussed below, but first I want to take a look at the use of dark silhouettes against a backdrop or scene of some kind. Roy Hobbs appears as a dark silhouette with four characters, Pop Fisher, Max Mercy, Memo Paris, and Iris Gaines. All of these need to be interpreted in view of the first dark silhouette, Roy Hobbs by himself.

Fifteen years after being shot, Hobbs walks out of a clubhouse tunnel and into a Major League dugout. This silhouette represents Hobbs coming out of the darkness that took place in the Chicago hotel that kept him out of the game for a decade and a half. So each time Roy is darkly silhouetted with someone else, it harkens back to this effulgent leit motif.

Hobbs is in the same tunnel when Fisher threatens to send him down to the minors, which is the same as being out of the game altogether. Hobbs is in a different tunnel after he knocked the cover off the ball when he is approached by Mercy and asked about his past. Hobbs is one beach late at night with Paris, who is a type of Harriet Bird. Hobbs kisses Paris under a boardwalk and his hitting slump begins. After Hobbs breaks the clock in Wrigley Field, he speaks honestly to Iris about his past, and the scene takes place in still a different tunnel.


While Bird and Paris wear black dresses, the use of darkness as a utility of lighting is found most often with the Judge. Symbolically, he represents the devil. In one sense, he is the villain of the story. But in another sense, he is the source of temptation within The Natural.

He tempts with money, but more to the point, he tempts people to give up their better self for something lesser and the unfulfilled promise of much more. In this he not only goes after Hobbs, but also claims Sands, Mercy, Paris, and even Pop Fisher. The darkness hides what the Judge is really up to and his true motives. And like the darkness of the tunnels, it represents what would keep Hobbs out of the game.


Iris Gaines represents Hobbs in his youth when he was The Natural and his childlike desire to play for the love of the game. She is also a foil to both Bird and Paris. Not only is she always wearing white and well-lit (with the single exception of the tunnel), she foils the Judge in that she represents an angel. When she stands at Wrigley Field, she wears a light mesh hat. With the sun behind, she looks like she has a halo around her head. She brings him back to the purity of the game and even chides his hubris.

The Natural is a great film that well executes lighting to help convey the tale of Roy Hobbs. The use of darkened silhouettes as well as the more explicit well lit and intentionally dark scenes add layers of symbolism and metaphor to the subtext of the movie.

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Film Analysis Of The Natural – Part One: The Use Of Timeline

The Natural is a 1984 film based on the novel by the same name by Bernard Malamud, which was published in 1952. It was directed by Barry Levison and the screenplay was written by Roger Towne and Phil Dusenberry. It’s the story of fictional baseball great, Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford).

The Story

When he’s sixteen he gets a tryout with the Chicago Cubs. The train stops at a carnival and Hobbs strikes out a Babe Ruthish baseball star simply known as The Whammer (Joe Don Baker). A woman on the train named Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey) met Hobbs, and later in Chicago she invites Hobbs to her room. She shoots him and then jumps out of the window.

Fifteen years later Hobbs signs a major league contract with the New York Knights, a fictional team. The manager and part owner, Pop Fisher (Wilfred Brimley) refuses to play Hobbs. In time he becomes the starting Right Fielder and plays quite well. The team is inspired to play well. Hobs dates Fisher’s niece, Memo Paris (Kim Basenger), and she ends up being bad luck because Hobbs goes into a hitting slump.

At a game in Chicago, Hobbs’s old girlfriend from his teenage years, Iris Gaines (Glen Close). When he sees her in the stands, he hits a homerun that shatters the scoreboard clock. Hobbs wants to help Pop win a pennant because if he does, then contractually Pop can buy out his partner, a man simply known as the Judge (Robert Prosky). Hobbs gets pressure from the Judge, Meno, and a gambler named Gus Sands (Darren McGavin) to not play, but Hobbs overcomes all, including his health problems from the bullet in the stomach, and wins the pennant for Pop Fisher.

The Timeline

The original 1984 release told the story in a straight-forward linear means, just like the novel. But on the 30th anniversary DVD, Levison re-edited the beginning. The first act is Hobbs on the Train to New York to play for the Knights. On the train, everything from his youth up to his getting shot is shown as a flashbacks, as if Hobbs were reminiscing about his first chance at the Big League, which ended tragically.

Having seen both, I prefer to the original linear storyline. It’s almost as if Levison edited the beginning knowing people were already familiar with the 1984 release. It was as if Levison made the changes for people who already knew the story. If the non-linear/flashback version were the original release, it would not have made as much sense, and I feel that The Natural would not be the cinematic treasure that it is.

The flashback version skips quickly over Hobbs’s past. This edition focuses on his days with the Knights, but his early days are still important to the story. To me, this edition weakens the character development of Hobbs, but also Iris Gaines. Still, the re-edition I still basically true to the Malamud novel, which I highly recommend. And it is the cream of the crop for baseball movies.

Movieclips. (October 25, 2012). The Natural (1/8) Movie CLIP – Striking Out The Whammer (1984) HD [Video file]. Retrieved from

 Crackle. (January 21, 2010).The Natural. Roy Hobbs smashes the clock tower at Wrigley Field. Mammoth home run [Video file]. Retrieved from

 Crackle. (June 15, 2011). The Natural – The Final Homerun [Video file]. Retrieved from


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How To Become A NaNoWriMo “Winner”


NaNoWriMo is here! That month of suffering for your art and straining for an image is now upon us. It is not for the squeamish. Nothing but the stout-hearted and solid-bottomed will do. The calluses on our finger tips are our flesh-colored badge of courage.

To see it through you need to be properly equipped. So for all of my fellow NaNoers I have compiled a simple assemblage of items for your literary knapsack, a compositional first aid kit, if you will, to help you through the next month.

  • Write-Ins – Sometimes these are all social, slices of pizza beside ourlaptops. But I remember last year, I got some real work done at my write-ins. You feel less crazy seeing others as crazy as you.
  • Forums – The NaNo website has a great page of forums. It’s a great place to find information and encouragement. When I need a break from writing, I usually hit the forums.
  • Pep Talks – When you sign up for NaNoWriMo you get emails from various writers encouraging you to keep it up. These are called Pep Talks. They’re great and they really work.
  • Coffee – I’m not joking. You cannot succeed at NaNoWriMo without writing very early and/or very late, scratch the “or.” Coffee is wonderful just because it’s coffee, but it’s almost a tonic for the NaNoer. And a bit of advice: coffee, yes – alcohol, no.
  • Muscle Rub – Again, I’m not joking. You are going to get sore muscles writing as much as you will. I’m sore just from writing this article. Nothing wrong with a good rub, and it smells good, too!
  • Comfortable Work Space – Last year I had piles of stuff on my desk, so I put my laptop on my office chair and wheeled it up to my recliner. Not advised. Maybe that’s why I needed all that muscle rub last year, but writing at desk at the right height in a solid yet comfy chair makes a big difference.
  • A Good Book – Writers are readers, and that doesn’t change just because there are now more demands no our schedule. I’m going to continuereading what I was already reading, which is The Bear by William Faulkner and Edmund Blake’s A Philosophical Enquiry Ito The Sublime And Beautiful.
  • Time Management – You have a life outside of NaNo, even though it may not seem like it. You need to learn to make and keep a schedule. Not only will this help you get your writing done, but it will let you get everything else done you need to do.
  • Rest – Enough of this staying up late and getting up early. You need to get some sleep. You may happen to sleep less than Aristotle, but your writing will show it. You need to rest your mind. Pillow that brain once in a while!
  • Support – The writing friends you make during NaNoWriMo can provide great support. I mean more than helping you find a synonym for truculent or what to do in your scene when the man walks through the door with a gun (the man, not the door). There is a great deal of encouragement to be found by your fellow writers. They don’t have to say or do anything. Just the fact that they are doing it with you helps bucketfuls.

What did I leave out? What gets you through a month of nervous November noveling? Let me know how you survive NaNoWriMo in the Comment section below. Happy NaNoing!


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What The Release Of My Novel Siciliana Reminded Me About Creative Writing: Part Three – Incidental Action & Personality


You can have best plot, but if you don’t have interesting people doing all of these interesting things, your plot goes plop. There are a lot of ways to create characters that are unique and individually specific (the key to interesting). One of my favorite means is to give my characters some physically unique feature that ends up being a description of that person. For example, in my novel Prince my antagonist had gout. It symbolized his rigidness and stubbornness. Also, in my soon to be released fifth novel Pietas, my antagonist is short. Throughout the manuscript it demonstrates how underdeveloped he is a person. He is as diminutive in his humanity as he is his stature.


In Siciliana, my protagonist Giuseppe Albanese is double-jointed. He is called Snodatu by his brother-in-law because snodatu is the Sicilian word for double-jointed.” This feature comes in handy in getting himself out of a jam where he can save his life, as well as his brother-in-law.

More importantly, he is constitutionally moral double jointed. This is by far his biggest flaw and gets him into the biggest pickle ever since Smalls hit his step-fathers Babe Ruth baseball over the fence into the beast’s yard (for all of you fans of the move The Sandlot). I demonstrate this indecision throughout the book so it is clearly a trait of his. When hunting pheasant with his brother-in-law, he can hit everything. But when two birds fly out together he doesn’t fire because he couldn’t decide which one to fire upon. Even dining with his uncle Snodatu cannot decide between getting the pork or the chicken. All of this feeds into a character flaw he most overcome to truly be the story’s hero.

Don Sciarpa

Snodatu’s brother-in-law is Paolu Aglieri. He becomes Don of the seaside village of Sciacca. But he sold his soul to the devil for this favor, which he soon finds out is a bad deal. Once the covenant is made, Paolu becomes bald and later he finds out the hard way he is also impotent. He changes his name to Don Sciarpa, which is the Sicilian word for scarf since he ties a scarf around the top of his head to hide his baldness.

While there is nothing wrong with a man naturally losing his hair because of age, having your hair removed from you, typically by shaving, was commonly done to slaves in ancient history. In the Bible, God describes the slavery and bondage of the Jews in Babylonian captivity as the uncovering of their head to their shame. Don Sciarpa is now the devil’s slave, and this is humiliating. To show this, the devil removes his hair, and just as with the old day Jews, it was to his public shame.

Don Sciarpa and his wife find out together that his deal with the devil made him impotent. She leaves him over this. In general, Don Sciarpa is impotent in that he is completely powerless regarding his situation. He is helpless and the remainder of the story for him is his efforts at redemption, in other words, getting out of the contract.

We all know that physical distinctness help make for individualistic characters. But if you give someone a peg leg and someone else an eye patch just for the variety of it, then you missed out on some great character colorization. Unless you write pirate stories, haphazard peg legs and eye patches make people look different, but until they demonstrate how they act differently, you’re missing out on some great character making tools.

Click here to read Part One of this series

Click here to read Part Two of the series

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PRINCE Is Available On Amazon

prince novel

Philip Castile purchases and consumes companies to feed his Conglomerate’s bottom line as well as his tremendous ego. He even buys people, and there are plenty of people who work for him who can be bought. But neither the affection of his son, nor the love of his wife, is for sale.

Through losing Lizzie le Fleur and Roddy Compson, his beloved and his best friend, young Charlie Castile learns to channel his passions in unselfish ways. He is challenged to salvage a small dairy in defiance of his father, and the effort could cost him his life.

Charlie’s struggles are our own. Everyone deals with loss of love. This strife could compel us or consume us. Often this manifests itself in a battle between what we want to do and what we ought to do.


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What The Release Of My Novel Siciliana Reminded Me About Creative Writing: Part Two – Narrative Action & Psychology


Recently releasing my first novel, Siciliana, reminded me of some of the basics of writing. One thing I noticed in this story is the use of narrative action to demonstrate the psychology of the different characters.

One of the best examples I can think of for this in pop culture is the film Good Will Hunting. There is a scene where Will is having a tense discussion with his girlfriend. Just behind them are a pair of old men playing chess. What a wonderful image of what was really going on in the discussion.

A Tale of Two Leaves

Central to Siciliana is the contract between Snodatu and his brother-in-law Don Sciarpa. When the proposition is first ratified, the manuscript reads:

Two ash leaves danced the saltarello across the wooden floorboards. The wind pinned one leaf against the Don’s shoe. That same wind tossed the other leaf over his shoe and into the ankle of Snodatu. He stepped on the leaf, which made no sound as it was ground under his leather sole. He moved his foot and stared down at the ash leaf. A drop of blood plummeted into the canyons and valleys of the broken leaf. Snodatu leaned with his elbows on his knees and examined the blood run chaotically, always seeking lowest ground. The crimson stain became suddenly diluted with the splash of a single tear. The ash leaf scampered on its back before it danced away and off the stoika portiko by the stubborn fall breeze.”

Recall from the last article that the ash tree was thought in medieval times to be the tree from which the cross of Christ was made. So the ash symbolizes spirituality. Each leaf represents one of these two men, although it communicates much more about Snodatu than Don Sciarpa.

The leaf is stepped on and ground by Snodatu. His spirituality is going to be crushed by what he does. Since this event takes place immediately after the deal is sealed (in blood), it demonstrates that it will be Snodatu carrying out his agreement with the Don that will lead to his spiritual ruin. This is emphasized by the drop of blood that falls into the leaf and saturates it. Snodatu’s sin will involve the shedding blood. Also, this tells us that Snodatu will spiritually fall by following through with his deal that he just made with Don Sciarpa.

A Tale Of Two Leaves Redux

The pair of leaves appear again, but at the end of the book. As the first pair of leaves demonstrated spiritual fall that would occur, these last two show the redemption which just took place, both for Snodatu and Don Sciarpa (who in this excerpt is called Paolu Aglieri, which is his family name).

The carriage rested beside a larch tree, which autumn had stripped of all her leaves save two. A pair of unseasonably green and healthy leaves clung to the end of the bottom branch. A sudden gust of wind ripped one leaf away and blew it the same direction that Paolu Aglieri had taken. The second leaf held firm, until a final surge plucked the leaf away. An updraft cast the leaf skyward, and when the wind failed, the leaf drifted down back to the earth, finally resting on the front seat to the carriage immediately beside the reins.”

As the ash was considered for continental Europe, the larch was a sacred tree for ancient Scandinavian cultures. The Word-Tree (or Tree of Life in Christianity) was a larch tree in Nordic literature. So these pair of leaves are meant to compliment the first pair of leaves we just read about.

These leaves are green, even though it’s autumn. This connotes health and life primarily in a spiritual context. Although green, the leaves are blown away by the winds of change. Each of these men following their individual redemption is about to enter the next big transition in their life. One leaf is blown down the trail that the Don had just taken. The other lands in the front seat of a carriage, which Snodatu is about to board and take to meet him family.

These men were self-cursed by their own misdeeds. Both redeemed themselves by correction of life and a new path. As the dead and dying ash trees stood for the fall of these men, these prosperous larch leaves show their reversal of misfortune.

There are several other such references in the book. Some involve cats, cannons, and swords, to name a few. But the point I feel is made well enough to be understood with the reference to the leaves that bookend the story. So whether it’s a leaf or a cat or a chessgame, include incidental action that shows us the person, what will happen to them, or what has just occurred. It’ll add beauty and substance to your story and provide for an entertaining read.

I hope this article encourages you to want to pick up a copy of my novel. You can purchase your copy of Siciliana now on Amazon and Kindle by clicking here. Get yours soon before the introductory price goes up soon. And be sure to Share this with all of your fellow-writers, and Comment in the section below and tell me what you think.

Click here to read Part One of this series

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What The Release Of My Novel Siciliana Reminded Me About Creative Writing: Part One – Scenic Description & Character Development


I began the first draft of my first novel in 2002 and it took my 3 years to finish and longer to edit. I never got it published because I knew nothing of the publishing world and I wanted to learn about it before I tried to getting anything in the market. I learned publishing companies want writers to have a platform, which is one reason I started this Creative Writing blog.


I became aware of self-publishing and soon noticed it as not only a viable option, but a preferred one. So in the past year I had released three non-fiction books (The Gatsby Reader, Think Like A Writer, and My Plans For World Domination) and a novella (Firmament). I’ve written three additional novels, as well. I’ve decided to release these as self-published works as well. Last week I released my first novel, Siciliana.

As I finished polishing it up, I noticed some things I let slip, mostly the use of descriptions and details that may seem incidental but are vital to the story telling. After all, I haven’t read this in years, so it was good to be refreshed on a few things. One of the things I noticed was my use of scenic descriptions to illustrate a certain character.

The Home Of Don Albanese

Siciliana is set in during one week in October of 1909 on the Sicilian coastal town of Sciacca. It has Dons and vendettas, knives and guns, pasta and bread, and what you might imagine may be in a Sicilian novel. The descriptions of buildings, landscapes, and environments is something I usually avoid as superfluous fluff that adds nothing to the story. But a writer can use such descriptions as figures within the novel. For example take a look at the description of Don Albanese’s house:

At a parting in the fence, a sandy trail advanced towards the house. By the entrance stood a bare and barren ash tree. Two prominent branches reached up from the top of the trunk toward Heaven like two arms braced above one’s head. Nothing organic existed within the broken shade of the lifeless tree. Further up the way squatted a short quince tree. A well-dressed snake with an inexplicable knot in her tail lived amongst the branches. The serpent always smiled. Closer to the manse, a ring of pomegranate trees ascended. Countless sparrows flirted from one tree to another, singing amorous tunes in avian languages. A lonely cuckoo larger than the sparrows bounced from tree to tree, helping himself to anything he liked.

About Don Albanese Himself

This paragraph has plenty of details and all of them are symbolic of the man who lives there. Notice what we see in this scene: a dead ash tree, a quince tree, a snake, pomegranate trees, sparrows, and a cuckoo. These details have symbolic meanings that contribute to the development of Don Albanese even before we see him. The ash tree was thought to be three wood used for the cross of Jesus in medieval times. The quince was also then thought to be the forbidden fruit in paradise where the serpent beguiled Eve. Pomegranates were ancient symbols of fertility and sexual potency. Sparrows were birds given to pleasure and cuckoos take whatever they want.

So before we meet Don Albanese, notice what we can know about him. He is a spiritually dead man who gives himself over fully to all of his temptations and vices. He is particularly given to sexual lusts and will even take what he wants (or who he wants) to satisfy his bawdy appetite.

These are the sort of details that a good Creative Writer can provide to tell us about people and circumstances within their novels. You may want to practice these things so that you can develop this technique and use it in your work, just like all of the Masters did in their books, as well.

If you got something useful from this article, Share it with other writers who could also get some good from it. And if you have any Comments, please let me know what’s on your mind.

You can purchase your copy of Siciliana now on Amazon and Kindle by clicking here. Get yours soon before the introductory price goes up soon!


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My Novel Siciliana Is Now Available On Amazon



More than anything else Konstantinu Aglieri wants to become to the Don of the Sicilian coastal village of Sciacca. He succeeds but finds the penalty for ambition is more than he can bear.

Giuseppe Albanese feels torn between protecting his family and defending his family’s honor, even from those who are kin. And when he makes the worst choice he can simply by being selfish, his only remedy is to sacrifice himself.

A greedy heart and a vengeful spirit are loathsome vices, but when they are within the same person, no more of a wretched existence can exist. These two transgressions parasite within the Archebishop Arcollo of Palermo. He learns, but only too late, that a man’s sins will find him out.

Siciliana is a tale of a transformative week in Sicily in October of 1909 where souls are formed and eternities determined.

ISBN-13: 978-1500757335



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