Literati is honored to host Sid Smith who will be sharing her husband’s book Canio’s Secret: A Memoir of Ethnicity, Electricity, and my Immigrant Grandfather’s Wisdom about the life of his grandfather Canio Grieco
About Canio’s Secret:
In 1950s Chicago, a young boy hides in his bedroom closet to escape a father’s habitual rage. There he conjures up another paternal figure in his artistic Italian grandfather, Canio Grieco, his glimpse into happiness. With his wondrous tricks and stories of “Italy,” his library and drawings, his baseball and opera, Canio becomes the model of creativity for the lonely, introverted grandson.
Surviving through ingenuity and imagination, young Greg is fascinated by electricity and the world of men: he sticks his fingers in Christmas light sockets, finds unexpected mentors in a washing machine repair shop, fantasizes about the fate of missing fathers, and eventually betrays his grandfather at the billiard table.
Canio’s Secret is a coming-of-age story chronicling a boy’s poignant struggle to find consolation in his mother’s Catholicism and to break free of his father’s anger. Told through intimate portraits of parents and grandparents, nuns and janitors, friends and local characters, and their unsettling – often humorous – encounters, it is also the vibrant portrait of a multi-ethnic neighborhood soon to be scattered by white flight. And, as the older writer ponders his grandfather’s influence, the memoir becomes a meditation on Canio’s enigmatic advice, offered in the summer of 1953: “Happiness is all that’s required.”