Brooklyn author’s third book takes readers on a wine-soaked, food-filled Italian adventure
Do not read this book on an empty stomach.
“Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure,” the third novel from Brooklyn author Andrew Cotto, is a travel-laden voyage that features wonderfully crafted visceral descriptions of food and wine that will leave readers salivating.
The romantic page-turner tells the story of Jacoby Pines, a Brooklynite searching for an antiquated existence in a modern world. Despite Pines’ exceptional performance at work, an off-hand text mistakenly sent to his entire office — including his new boss — leads to his firing.
The message “in a rational word,” Cotto, 50, writes, “would be considered inappropriate and maybe unfortunate, but — in a hyper-sensitized, outraged America — destroyed his career and reputation.”
Jobless, unmotivated and drinking too much, a disheartened Pines goes abroad to the somnolent hills south of Florence with his travel-writer fiancee for what is supposed to be a soul-searching trip and a chance to get his life back on track.
When the relationship collapses, however, Pines is left with very few certainties, except that he never wants to leave Italy.
Cotto’s third novel is the first to take place outside of New York City. His first book “The Domino Effect,” which he wrote in Italy, is based in Queens while his second story, “Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery” occurs in Kings County.
“It’s interesting for me to keep one foot in Brooklyn,” Cotto, a Carroll Gardens resident and 21-year Brooklynite told the Brooklyn Eagle. “In this case, I was using Brooklyn as a metaphor for progressive America. A place where the character felt displaced.
“Jacoby’s desire to ultimately not return are in some ways inspired by what it’s like to live in this town in this day in age: how expensive it is, how competitive it is, how hyper-sensitive it can be. The borough is so appealing to some, but challenging to others.”
Reminiscent of “Eat, Pray, Love,” “Sweetbitter” and “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Cucina Tipica” romanticizes the simple pleasures of life and stimulates the senses.
“I coupled an expat literary experience with some books that were so commercially digestible,” Cotto said. “Travel narratives that have a huge emphasis on eating and cultural immersion.
“They’re fun escapes and they speak on a larger level about why those escapes are so valuable. A big part of the story is finding yourself somewhere else.”
To celebrate the book’s release, Cotto hosted a party on Saturday at Littlefield in Gowanus where all of the novels sold out.
The evening featured a raucous performance from soul singer Bette Smith, a Bedford-Stuyvesant native and Park Slope resident, and appearances from several Brooklyn celebrities, including actor Gbenga Akinnagbe and restaurateur Thiru Rajamani.
“Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure” was released on Thursday and is available online and at Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill. For more info, go to andrewcotto.com.
Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.
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