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"Having left the Anglo-Saxon gentry of Boston's Louisburg Square and the contentious left-wing intelligentsia of New York's Greenwich Village, retired novelist Pinpin wants nothing more than to be left alone. His wife dead, his books out of print, his sons lost to the seductive wiles of word processors and movie development deals, Pinpin decides to go to his hometown. But he is quick to assert, "I am not returning, touching base, none of that...Tampa is where I came from...that's all you could say for it."" "As soon as Pinpin sets foot back in his parents' house - against his will and his better judgment - he finds himself ensnared in family politics, with one cousin telling him not to trust another. Not knowing what to think, Pinpin is dragged along on a bizarre and hilarious quest through the back streets of Tampa on a mission to rescue his misguided young grandniece." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


I walked into the empty old house in Tampa, and the phone was ringing. Who could it be? No one knew I had left New York. Peace, peace in my old age—that’s all I wanted.

It was my cousin Tom-tom. He said, “What are you doing here?”

“Why are you calling here?” I said, hectoring like a Tampa Latin (we never called ourselves Hispanics) as if I hadn’t lived my whole adult life away from that tacky, inquisitive town and family, and long ago turned into a real American, which is worse.

He made a temporizing, grumbling noise into the phone.

“You know Celia and Cuco have been dead four months,” I said.

“I was at the funeral,” he said. “Where were you?”

“There’s nobody here now,” I said, still taking his tack.

“That’s why,” he said softly, changing course on me. “I don’t like to think of Aunt Mama’s house all quiet and lonely. I call ‘cause that way at least the phone rings.”

“You’re crazy,” I said and chuckled a bit, for the first time in months.

Tom-tom laughed along for a second, and then slowly, but gathering momentum, he composed an eulogy of Aunt Mama, my mother, dead twelve years at least. He ended it with the same statement he made at every last encounter in our lives, a kind of unanswerable explanation for their closeness: “Aunt Mama and I were born the same day, November 29, you know.”

“Twenty years apart,” I said, denying him his claim, bastard that I am.

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