By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Author, poet and playwright John Biscello is a Bensonhurst native, but he’s lived in Taos, NM for the past eleven years. This summer he will be returning to New York to read from various Bensonhurst-inspired stories.
In spite of his geographical distance from Brooklyn, Biscello says that he harbors an undying connection to the borough. “There’s always this Brooklyn ‘movie’ running inside me, 24-7, that I can tune in to,” he told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “The Brooklyn–inside-me has grown stronger, sharper, more visceral…it’s had time to transform into fiction and personal mythology,” he explained.
Biscello says that his stories are largely inspired by the “character” of his old neighborhood. He recalls Bensonhurst – largely inhabited by working-class Italian-Americans – as having “saltiness, grit, coarseness, and aggressiveness, not to mention the underlying sensitivities and desperation.” Biscello notes that hanging out with his friends, who would rap and tell stories on the streets and in the park, was helpful in developing his ear for dialogue, language, and storytelling. “Some of the greatest oral storytellers and comedians I ever encountered were kids I knew and hung out with when I was younger,” he contends.
Biscello hopes that his readers will gain an authentic glimpse into the Bensonhurst he remembers. And though he has the fondest of memories, the author aims to paint a comprehensive portrait of the neighborhood, revealing to readers its “customs, dysfunctions, prejudice, solidarity; its poetry and squalor, its messy humanness.”
Biscello looks forward to returning to New York; he told the Eagle he misses the subway (as one of the few adults in his New Mexico community who still doesn’t drive). He is also excited to get his fair share of quality bagels and pizza (specifically DaVinci's Pizzeria).
Biscello will appear at KGB Bar (85 East 4th St.) on Monday, June 24 at 7 p.m. for a reading and book signing. Poet and writer Michael Ferrara will join Biscello in conversation. Admission is free. He will also appear on Wednesday, July 3 at the Cornelia St. Café (29 Cornelia St.) to read from his novel “Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale.” Poet and writer Lisa Marie Basile will join the author at this event. Admission is $8 and includes one drink.