My Ground Trilogy
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Joe Torra’s loosely connected My Ground Trilogy tells the stories of three working-class, Boston area people—each of whom is trying to crawl out from under.
Gas Station is a slice of everyday life that reveals the thoughts of a boy who works more than he plays. Weathering the tedium, frustration and occasional fearsome excitement of events in his immigrant father’s business with a kid’s interest and an adult’s sense of responsibility, the narrator puts the reader in a gritty, greasy garage that somehow relates to everyone’s transition out of childhood.
In the second novel, Tony Luongo is a slick-dealing salesman in Pratt’s department store who juggles the effects of his Italian-American upbringing, marriage, parenthood and his own obsessive sexuality with post-war social and political change swirling past him. The endless stream of mental observations brings the reader through territory that is as real and affecting as it is unsettling.
In the final installment, My Ground, Torra again explores the working class experience in urban Massachusetts. Forty-year-old Laurel Bell, negotiates through past trauma and present depression to support herself as a poor single woman. Simple, yet vivid detail reveals her mental and emotional process as she constantly tries to reconcile the past and present sufficiently to make sense of her reality.
Hubert Selby, Jr said “The story telling has a wonderful sense of imagination, intelligence, economy and originality…”
“Torra’s evocation of the… twisted white-trash milieu is brilliantly done, creating an uneasy portrait of life on the fringes of sanity and society,” wrote the London Times and, the New York Times Book Review stated, “If words were lug nuts, Joseph Torra would spin them in ways the guys down at the garage never dreamed of.”