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Nonfiction

The Pheasant

The Pheasant

They had married in September and it was the end of October when Giovanni stood alone at Malpensa airport waiting for his Canadian adventure to take off. His sweeter half would have followed after he had had the time to find accommodations and employment. Giovanni did not give much thought to the fact that this was the first time he…

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Letting Go of the People in My Head

When I was completing the sixth volume of a series I set in a fictional village in Tuscany, I realized that it was time to let the people in these books go. I had seen them suffer during World War II when the series began The Cielo: A Novel of Wartime Tuscany and, through the decades, they had married, had kids…

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Mio Men

Mio Men

In kinder, gentler times, there was a man who came around on his truck to deliver what I liked to call the two Sisters of Soda: Mio and Brio. Mio was clear and fizzy and I loved her. I didn’t really know Brio. I was taught that after you suck on the siphon tube to get a good gulp of red wine flowing into an empty…

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All a Whirlwind

All a Whirlwind

It is all a whirlwind; a life constructed in little vignettes, little parables that pass by like clouds in full bore – over in a second. We made our way south by southeast to North York and the aftermath of the windstorm the previous day. The usual post-blustery bedlam: cops with flashing lights making you wait and then waving you…

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Crossing Cultures

Crossing Cultures

We’re waiting to catch a train to Venice, four of us: my husband and I, our son and daughter-in-law. We are excited to be headed to this most romantic of Italian cities and eagerly anticipating its famous pleasures: Piazza San Marco with its grand Basilica; the famous art collections of the Accademia and the Palazzo Ducale; the canals themselves, and…

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Forever Home

I was standing outside the Palermo airport with my brother and sister, soaking in the scorching heat and the magnificent landscape. Sicily has such beauty to offer; from where I was standing, I could have taken any number of pictures that would have been postcard-worthy. I didn’t take any though, because my body was not yet used to the island’s…

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Being or Becoming: Who Am I, Really?

As I sit to write this piece, I am hit by a cosmic, albeit familiar, question: Who am I, really? My identity was never a major concern for me until recently. I’ve always been pretty certain of who I am. I’m Giulia, of course. I had my adolescent identity crisis, but that was part of growing up. Everyone goes through…

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Where One Hears a Noise Like This

Where One Hears a Noise Like This

When nonno Carmine Fortunato’s family stopped hearing from him, they thought what people often thought when a husband and father suddenly stopped writing: “He started a new life!” As if there was more than one life to live… So, his wife and daughters thought that he had met another woman; that maybe he squandered his money on her; that maybe he had…

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Hello to Our Friends, If There Are Any Left

Hello to Our Friends, If There Are Any Left

The following account is a creative nonfiction short story inspired by an old box that Paula Mascioli found in her mother’s basement. Curious to see what was inside, she opened it to find a treasure trove of documents, old letters and papers her father had saved from the days of his father’s and uncle’s internment in Petawawa during the Second World War. Paula knew…

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Uprising on the Nile

Inspired by the popular uprising which began in Tunisia in December 2010, the people of Egypt rose up in protest against the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak in January and February 2011, resulting in Mubarak’s resignation and exile. Bill Barazzuol, an eye-witness to the events, filed this report. Edited by Ray Culos. January 25th, 2011 The successful Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia…

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On Leave-Taking And Monuments

On Leave-Taking And Monuments

No one leaves country, home, all he has loved, unless driven by a powerful necessity. In the case of my people, it was poverty that compelled my maternal grandparents from Sicily, paternal grandparents from Calabria. But why three Giovannini brothers left Lucca with their father – Lucca, a rich town in fertile Tuscany – surely could not have been poverty?…

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Old World New World

Italian Canadians offer good lessons in preserving Old World culture in the land of milk and honey. If someone asked me what I’ve been asking people for the past week, I know what I would say. Am I Dutch first or Canadian? Well, Canadian of course, but I am proud of my Dutch name. And no, I don’t speak any…

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Going to the Chapel

The Italian wedding in Canada has become a bit of a cliché. As a first-generation Italian Canadian, I've had both the pleasure and the misfortune of attending hundreds of weddings over the years. The result is that I can no longer distinguish one wedding for another. The memories all fade into one giant wedding with the same people that nobody…

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From Russia Without Love: Letters from the Russian Front – 1942 (Part 1)

On the Luganskaya Front An endless column ahead of me is standing still on the frozen trail to Lugansk. It is a column only in a manner of speaking. It would be better to call it an infinitum of wrecks lined up one behind the other. Wrecks… Everything is decrepit, worn out, perforated, consumed, and dented - a perfect match…

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La Finestra

In the summer of love, I was 12 years old and living a white bread existence in the west end of Toronto the Good. Our house, a one and a half story, post-war ruddy brick and white lathe edifice, stood proudly on the corner lot of Holbrooke and Tenby, a "slightly irregular" testament to my father's stubborn conviction that he…

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Sunday in Woodbridge

Sunday in Woodbridge

I have just returned from Woodbridge, where my mother and father live "behind the Wall." They were all dressed up and waiting when I arrived at about 3:30 in the afternoon, to take them out for dinner - my father in the tie and sweater I got him for Christmas, my mother in her hat. The funeral is not until…

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