EWU Title » Short Fiction
The High Heart
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Joseph Bathanti came to North Carolina in 1976 as a VISTA volunteer to work in the state's prison system and later earned an MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College, in Swannanoa. He is the author, most recently, of two novels—Coventry, for which he received the 2006 Novello Literary Award, and East Liberty, which won the 2001 Carolina Novel Award—and a work of nonfiction, They Changed the State: The Legacy of North Carolina's Visiting Artists, 1971-1995, published in 2007 by the North Carolina Arts Council. He has also written four volumes of poetry, among them This Metal, which was nominated for a National Book Award, as well as the one-act play Afomo, which won the Wachovia Playwrights Pride and was produced by the Lab Theatre of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The recipient of numerous other honors, among them the Samuel Talmadge Ragan Award, presented annually for outstanding sustained contributions to the fine arts of North Carolina, the Linda Flowers Prize, the Sara Henderson Hay Prize, and the Sherwood Anderson Award, he teaches creative writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.
The High Heart is a gripping, soulful collection of linked stories, perfectly pitched in its depiction of a small family deeply rooted in working-class Pittsburgh of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The main characters are indelible—the young protagonist, Fritz, his passive-but-sweet father, Travis, and his explosive mother, Rita, whose dark sexuality and dissatisfaction loom like storm clouds over these stories. . . . Vivid and engaging, The High Heart satisfies that mysterious quality of great fiction by managing to be both truthful and artful at the same time.
—Jess Walter, author of The Zero
In this beautifully written and deeply moving collection, Joseph Bathanti gives us all the sad trappings of working-class life—the Rolling Rock beer, the Pall Mall cigarettes, the plastic lawn chairs, the beat-up Bonnevilles and Impalas. Yet the world of The High Heart never feels depressing. It's impossible not to cheer on young Fritzy as he struggles to make sense of his eccentric parents, the ever-bickering, memorable couple known as Travis-and-Rita.
—Rita Ciresi, author of Pink Slip and Sometimes I Dream in Italian
There is no doubt in my mind that Joseph Bathanti is one of the finest writers Italian America has produced. Whether it's poetry, novels, or short fiction, Bathanti has a way of latching onto a character or an idea and not letting go until he gets you to care about his protagonists, even if you don't like them. He writes in a way that makes reading seem effortless . . . creating stories that linger long after the pages have been turned.
—Fred Gardaphé, author of From Wiseguys to Wise Men: The Gangster and Italian American Masculinities
Joseph Bathanti's The High Heart pulls us in with an urgency that never lets up, imbuing his own little corner of urban America with the same kind of mythic hyperreality as William Kennedy's Albany novels or Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County.
—Nino Ricci, author of Testament
I wish I could write like Joseph Bathanti. Sentence by sentence, scene by scene—these characters' lives reveal themselves in all their quirky, dysfunctional, comic, tragic complexity and high-quality detail. This is an author who loves his characters, even the worst of them and because of this I love them too and will never forget them.
—Lewis Nordan, author of Wolf Whistle and The Sharpshooter Blues
To purchase The High Heart by Joseph Bathanti, please contact our distributor, University Press of New England toll free at 1-800-421-1561 or by fax at 1-603-448-9729. The book is also available online at UPNE, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine retailers.
To request a copy for review, please contact the Carnegie Mellon University Press Editorial Offices at (412) 268-2861 or by email at CarnegieMellonUniversityPress@gmail.com.