Appointment with Il Duce

Hozy Rossi
ISBN 9781566492546 (paperback)
Published in January 2003
MSRP $15.00
"Rossi's extraordinary grace and force took my breath away... it sings with lovely ironies without ever being trivially comic. It is bubblingly delightful and yet somehow deeply tragic."
- Michael Packenham, Baltimore Sun
A Baltimore Sun Best Book of the Year
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program selection
"Rossi's first novel, Appointment With Il Duce, may sound like a Visconte film taken to paper with a serpentine plot shot through with absurdity but the overall effect is even more graceful... Critics have been falling all over themselves to praise the book."
- Publishers Weekly Daily Book of the Day
Cortenza, a small Italian town far removed from Rome and the tumultuous events surrounding Mussolini's rise to power, is home to Beppe Arpino, a fatherless, impoverished boy blessed with poor posture and chronic insomnia. Beppe also has a talent for music, and under the paternal eye of Father Vincenzo, the local priest, he develops into an excellent cellist. But Father Vincenzo also shares with Beppe his passion for teeth, and, after the priest's mysterious death, fate nudges Beppe toward Naples and the pursuit of a career in dentistry.

At first, the sprawling city is kind to our hero. Beppe enrolls in the Naples Institute for Dental Arts and apprentices with Dr. Puzo, an eccentric visionary and founder of the school. Soon he finds love in the form of Angelina Perelli, a young woman whose near-perfect teeth would inspire awe in any dental student. But as Beppe matures, so does the fascist state, and inevitably he must take sides. A trip to Rome to fulfill Dr. Puzo's dying wish threatens to cost him Angelina. Nevertheless, it is a trip that Beppe must take.

Hozy Rossi, the son of an Italian-American father and an Australian mother, spent his youth in Virginia, Northern California, and Hawaii. He is a graduate of the University of Hawaii and Washington University in St. Louis. Over the years he has worked as a musician, a television producer, an oral historian, a teacher, and a magazine editor. He now lives in San Francisco, where he is currently writing a second novel.