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Nights at Rizzoli

By: Felice Picano
Narrated by: Aaron Abano
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Salvador Dalí, Jerome Robbins, Jackie Onassis. Gregory Peck, Mick Jagger, S. J. Perelman, I. M. Pei. Philip Johnson, Josephine Baker, John Lennon: They, and so many more who made New York City the center of the universe in the 1970s, all had one thing in common besides their adopted hometown - they shopped at a legendary palace of books, music, and art: Rizzoli Books at 712 Fifth Avenue. There, Kennedys and Rockefellers mingled with tourists and "regular" customers under the watchful gaze of sophisticated employees, themselves a multitalented, international collection of artists, scholars, and rogues.

Nights at Rizzoli is the memoir of Felice Picano, an aspiring but near-starving young writer who, in 1971, lucked into a part-time job at the stunningly elegant store via a friend. It metamorphosed into a life-changing experience, one that exposed him to some of the brightest lights in the world's cultural capital. At the store he became a key player on a stage that opened every night to a new drama that often featured romance, at times violence, and of course always the books and their readers. And when his shift was over, in this post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS era, the handsome young bookstore manager stepped from one world into another, prowling the piers, bars, and very private clubs of a different New York City.

©2014 Felice Picano (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

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  • R. Klein
  • 27-07-21

The final 2 words of this book are its review

"Que pretenzioso." Which I think should actually be "quanto pretenzioso." But there are other factual errors in this book.

It's a very pretentious, self-indulgent book, that after a while becomes just a collection of name-dropping, with tales of his sexual encounters tossed into the salad for variety.

But given the laxity of the author's fact-checking, I'm takin' his stories with a big grain of salt.

Samples of "facts" relayed in the book:

The Bealtes did not make their American TV debut on the the Ed Sullivan Show at Studio 54 (The author says "yes, THAT Studio 54.") But like every Ed Sullivan Show since 1953, it was broadcast from Studio 50 at 1697 Broadway.

Acacia trees do not grow out of the sidewalks of NYC. They grow in Australia and Africa. Ailanthus is the tree of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" fame that sprouts out of cracks in concrete.

The beaux arts customs house in NY is at Bowling Green, far from Greenwich Street.

And Avenue of the Americas was most certainly NOT named by Mayor Abe Beame, who served 1974-77. Sixth was renamed Avenue of the Americas by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1945. The distinctive lamposts sporting medallions naming the member countries in the Organization of American States were installed in the early 1960s.

If Felice Picano is that sloppy with the facts we CAN check, I shudder to think about his personal reminiscences about being the trendsetter who practically put Rizzoli on the map.

Quanto pretenzioso.

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  • MB
  • 30-07-21

Loved it!

Having read Like People in History I felt curious about the author. I found this book both informative and interesting. Once you remember it is a personal memoir, not a history textbook, it is quite entertaining.