The Fire Escape Stories

Volume 1

by (Author)

Their experiences knocking around the city are challenging, funny, touching, and at times disturbing—all of the ingredients that define growing up.

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Available book editions

This book is also available in eBook format from these sites.

  • Language ▸ English
  • Pages ▸ 102 Page
  • Editions ▸ eBook, Paperback
  • ISBN ▸ 1530123798
  • Amazon ASIN ▸ B01EIB8VKC
  • Published ▸ April 8, 2016

Teachers often tell aspiring students: write what you know. Chuck Cascio, an award-winning teacher, follows this dictum in the service of fiction that has the undeniable air of authenticity. These interconnected tales of a sensitive kid in Brooklyn provide the author an ideal forum to reflect on the crucial, formidable years of any child's life. The reader can smell the espresso, taste the cannolis, and see the creaky fire escape that functions as center stage. Cascio deftly defies typical convention, not delivering easy shocks or confrontations: much of the action (via the adults, including family and more shady characters) is hinted at, or happening --or about to happen-- outside the young protagonist's view, or comprehension. The reader knows a great deal more is going on, and this narrative restraint provides a depth and occasional menace not commonly seen in standard coming of age tales. There is a reportorial eye for detail but what really sells these stories is the heart on display: one feels a connection to an increasingly distant past (Brooklyn Dodgers!), and is able to care, because Cascio provides us with characters we care about. Looking forward to the next volume in this series!

-- MURPH
Book description:​

The Fire Escape Stories, Volume I, is comprised of nine episodes that make up Mike Burns’s strongest childhood memories of living in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1950s.

Mike and his cousin, Salvatore “Sally-Boy” Boccanera are born one minute apart, in the same hospital, and it seems like they’ll never be more than a minute apart the rest of their lives.

Their experiences knocking around the city are challenging, funny, touching, and at times disturbing—all of the ingredients that define growing up.

Life lessons happen in the Italian bakery Sally-Boy’s father owns, where the boys loll and play, with ears and eyes wide open. But maybe the biggest lesson of all looms over Mike’s father, who’s determined to make drastic changes in pursuit of a better life.

Hanging in the balance, at the center of the boys’ tumultuous lives, is the fire escape. It’s a place that is uniquely theirs, and Mike best describes its spell, recalling how it reeks in the rain, blisters in the sun, and ices over in the snow. It’s where he and Sally-Boy talk and think and philosophize and plot and try to understand all they can about themselves and the world.

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