Portrait In Broken Glass

(second edition 10/09/2018)

Fiction - General
412 Pages
Reviewed on 11/20/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Richard Siciliano attended Washington & Lee University. He was a VISTA and a draft resister. For many years he worked for social service and community action agencies. He lives in a small town in Northern California.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Portrait In Broken Glass is a work of intellectual and introspective fiction created by author Richard Siciliano. Told in the form of a diary by the central character of the piece, we follow the inner and outer journey of a broken man, Joseph Curcio. As the world is on the verge of the Second World War, Joseph’s environment is already far from ideal. His life as a once-successful intellectual is over, and when he is homeless and alcohol-dependent, he finds a former student who takes pity on him. She is Amanda, who now makes beautiful mosaics from broken glass, and that theme acts as a metaphor for Joseph’s attempts to put his broken life back together and hope for something better than before.

This is both a tragic and uplifting tale, examining how broken people’s lives can become in such a short time when they give up on themselves. I found Joseph’s psyche really interesting to explore through the format of the novel, and the narration was very well constructed on the part of Richard Siciliano, who removes himself from the tale as much as possible. The relationship with Amanda and the connections to her work make this a work worthy of literary praise, and the allegory follows through Joseph’s journey even though we, as an audience, can see its potential flaws. All the same, the ending for our unreliable narrator was compelling and unexpected, and I would certainly recommended Portrait In Broken Glass to any reader looking for an 'unputdownable' adventure.

Romuald Dzemo

Portrait In Broken Glass by Richard Siciliano is a well imagined and skillfully executed story with realistic themes and a beautiful setting. Joseph Curcio is a broken man. Once he had been a teacher at a high school and the principal of an elementary school. He had also held dreams of political office. But along the way, he made choices that had plunged him into misery. He is depressed and homeless, a man struggling to recover from alcohol addiction. It’s during this most trying period of his life that he meets a former student, Amanda, a street artist who sells mosaics. She offers Joseph a place to stay and a new hope burgeons in him. He decides to make things right, so he sets out to write his autobiography, a journey that will allow him to see his life more clearly. He doesn't know that he is about to engage in a journey into the depths of the darkness of his soul.

Richard Siciliano uses a first person narrative voice that grips the reader right off the bat and immerses them into the world view of the protagonist. The story feels hypnotic when read from the protagonist’s perspective. The language is good and in a tone that captures the moods and states of mind of the protagonist. The short sentences and the unique phraseology give this narrative a unique signature. The skillful use of the stream of consciousness and the protagonist’s reminiscences allow readers to journey into the deepest labyrinths of the mind of the protagonist. Portrait In Broken Glass has emotional depth and hinges on powerful psychological foundations, featuring themes like the search for purpose, love, depression, and crime. The characters reflect a section of society that is disillusioned about life and that wallows in a twilight zone between dream and wakefulness, between living with a purpose and despondency. This narrative is very realistic, engaging, and entertaining.

Christian Sia

Portrait In Broken Glass by Richard Siciliano can be classified as a tale that explores the mind of a depressed individual in his quest for meaning. Set in the 1930s, the protagonist Joseph Curcio meets his former student at the worst period in his life. Amanda is a street artist who sells mosaics made of broken glass and she offers Joseph a place to stay. This man who once held great hopes of success, and had even considered a political position, begins to find new hope in his relationship with a former student. To reconnect with his dreams, he takes the bold step of crafting his autobiography. But will he find a path to redemption in the exercise? What awaits him is far worse than anything he's dealt with in the past. But this time, will there be any rescue?

The opening captures something very intriguing about the protagonist. We immediately know that he has been a high school teacher at one time, and then an elementary school teacher, but the depression is what makes readers start paying attention. "Now I sleep on a shelf, originally a work platform, that is suspended from the cabin wall. At night after I turn down the lantern I stare into the darkness above me while my fingers search absently for the support chain by the side of my head. I imagine myself standing at the door to my past twisting a disengaged handle futilely."

Told in a gripping first person narrative voice, Portrait In Broken Glass explores the brokenness in the human psyche and follows a character who is deeply human and who goes through a vicious cycle in which many readers can see themselves. The narrative is filled with realism and I enjoyed the way the author handles the themes of depression, personal development, humanity, and the quest for meaning. Richard Siciliano is a great storyteller who takes readers into the depths of the characters' minds and allows them to feel their psychological tension and their emotional turmoil.