Cover image for Darkness falls : an American story
Darkness falls : an American story
Del Vecchio, John M., 1948-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xii, 368 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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From the best selling author of The 13th Valley, comes the story of a new type of war.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Del Vecchio takes the archetypal family saga--this one is Italian American--and produces an overstuffed page-turner that is hard to put down for all the usual reasons. Our antihero is advertising executive John Panuzio, of posh East Lake, Connecticut, whose life is unraveling very fast. He feels estranged from his children, and his beautiful wife, Julia, is caught up in a high-powered career of her own. Compulsive gambling, overconsumption, teenage angst, race relations (John's best friend is black), a little sex, and multiple points of view are just a few of the hooks in the mix. Interspersed throughout are John's memories of growing up in a large Italian family, where food, language, guilt, and family secrets both sustain and wear away at him. All the characters are cardboard, and the author makes too much of his prefatory and endnote explanations, but the novel will appeal to readers looking for a family story with plenty of melodrama. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

Del Vecchio wears his heart on his sleeve in this often overwrought account of a suburban Connecticut Italian family struggling to maintain its old-country values in a fast-changing modern world. At the heart of the struggle are John Panuzio, a 50-year-old ad executive whose vision of idyllic family life is threatened by a the imminent downsizing of his job; an aging live-in father whose health problems threaten the family's emotional resources; a spouse with a high-powered publishing career who's considering an affair with a co-worker; and an athletic son trying to deal with a variety of teenage temptations in a racially troubled school system. To escape from his problems, Panuzio retreats into a series of nostalgic childhood fantasies that focus on the strength of his extended family, but he's brought back to reality when his father suffers a stroke, his wife becomes the victim of a corporate power play and the teenage son of his best friend, an African American, is murdered after a high school auto accident that also deeply affects the ad exec's boy. Panuzio takes up the dead youth's cause in the local paper, penning a series of articles in which he speaks out against racism and inequality in the community, but his company rewards his idealism with a demotion, and a final family revelation after his father dies threatens to shatter his self-image irrevocably. Del Vecchio (The 13th Valley) is a sensitive writer who raises some compelling issues, but he seems unable to resist the temptation to go for melodrama over understatement. He also allows his primary characters to indulge in a variety of rambling diatribes about values old and new, burying the subtle nuances of a decent story in waves of verbiage. Author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It's ironic that a novel in which one of the central characters is a book editor should be so badly in need of one. With racial tensions mounting in suburban Connecticut and Johnny Panuzio's life going into free fall (job troubles, kid troubles, possible wife troubles, gambling debts, a deteriorating, dependent father), there's a lot going on‘almost too much, and this is without the car crash, murder, and sexual escapades. Just as the reader gets interested in one strand, it goes away, perhaps to reappear, perhaps not. As Johnny considers suicide, he retreats into childhood reminiscences more annoying even than the Tolstoyan descriptions of soccer matches. Then there's the other stuff, e.g., the book editor, in response to a speech berating a Draconian school administration, shouting "Here! Here!" as if to let people know where she is, and the character who makes an adjective of the popular "f" word with "-in," "-en," and "-ing," unsure of his own diction and dialect. There is a good book in here somewhere, but Del Vecchio (Carry Me Home, Bantam, 1996) would have benifited from an Ezra Pound.‘Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.