I will be speaking on my novel “Suosso’s Lane” tonight (April 28, 7 p.m.) in Kingston, Massachusetts, as part of the Kingston Library Author Series. The program is held Senior Center, 30 Evergreen St., behind town hall). “Suosso’s Lane,” a novel of Plymouth, MA and the internationally famous Sacco and Vanzetti case, was published as an ebook a few months ago by Web-e-Books.com. I now have paperback copies of “Suosso’s Lane” available for sale after reader interest in the book persuaded the publisher to have a print edition published. The book costs $19.95. It’s a fat paperback, at 570 pages.
Here’s part of the Kingston Library press release on tonight’s program: “The 1920 Sacco-Vanzetti trial remains one of the most controversial legal cases of modern times. Two Italian immigrants, targeted for their political views, were convicted of a murder-robbery in a trial marred by weak evidence and judicial prejudice. They were executed seven years later despite international protests. In his novel, named after the street in Plymouth where Bartolomeo Vanzetti lived for five years, author Robert Knox provides a contemporary setting for a rearview look at the early 20th century trial of Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.”
In my talk I will speak about how I discovered this subject and why I chose to write about it. Here’s a sample of my talk.
I lived in Plymouth, with my wife and children, for twenty years, much of that time working for the town’s community newspaper, the Old Colony Memorial (I also covered Kingston for a while working for the Boston Globe). As a journalist I learned that Italian immigrant Bartolomeo Vanzetti was living in Plymouth at the time of his arrest for a crime that would become an international cause celebre — a case perfectly symbolizing for millions of people the enormous and unjust gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ that existed both in America and throughout the world.
I was generally familiar with the Sacco-Vanzetti case, but not with the details. I learned that you can live in historic Plymouth without knowing that a major part of that famous case began there. The crime for which Vanzetti and fellow Italian immigrant Nicola Sacco were convicted was the robbery of a shoe factory payroll in Braintree and the killing of two payroll officials on an April day in 1920.
WHY DID I WRITE A BOOK ABOUT THIS? As an international cause, the Sacco-Vanzetti case was a big deal everywhere. Many nonfiction books have been written about it. But ‘Vanzetti in Plymouth’ is a local angle. And I was a local reporter. Working on a local history project for the Old Colony, I looked into what was known about Vanzetti’s life in Plymouth by scanning through old microfilmed editions of the town newspaper and other newspapers in the Plymouth library. (I do love libraries. I could not have written this book without them.) A single glance at a 1920s newspaper confirms that the world really was a different place 100 years ago. Would the local newspaper really ignore a big international story in which a local resident was a key figure? Well, pretty much.
I also read a number of books on the case. As I learned more, I grew to believe that the story of Vanzetti’s life in Plymouth — he spent about five years there — offered a multi-faceted opening into a bigger story of what life was like for the industrial working class in Plymouth, and the rest of America, a century ago — as well raising enduring issues in American society and politics. Such as: immigration, the negative stereotyping of national (or ethnic, or religious) groups as undesirable others, bias in the criminal justice system, and the growing gap between rich and poor.
If you’re interested in learning more about “Suosso’s Lane” take a look at the book on the publisher’s website, Web-e-Books.com. Direct link to the book below:
Or leave me a comment or a question below. If you’re an eastern Massachusetts resident, you may try coming to one of my library programs.
You can also check out the information in stories I have written about the book in my blog, prosegarden.blogspot.com. For instance, this one: