This collection of fourteen fictional short stories and two memoirs spans the time period from America's frontier days to the 21st century. All are set, at least in part, in the small neighborhood of Point Breeze, in the East End of Pittsburgh. Baptism of Desire follows an Irish settler family in the 1700s caught in the struggle between the British, French, and native people for western Pennsylvania. They ultimately settle in what is now Point Breeze. Subsequent stories unfold during the disastrous 1877 railroad strike, the violent Prohibition era, and the Vietnam War. But most of the stories occur in the 1950s and 1960s Baby Boom, when the author grew up in the neighborhood. Many colorful characters populate these pages, but the real star is the neighborhood itself. Anyone who has ever lived or "loafed" in Point Breeze in the latter half of the twentieth century can relate well to these stories, but they are for all readers. The rich history of the past morphs into the raucous kid-crowded mid-twentieth century and beyond. Tears of grief, joy, and nostalgia drip from the pages. The collection concludes with two tender, poignant, and funny "coming of age" memoirs. It is the author's hymn to his home, his history, his people. An Introduction entitled "Memories Are a Breeze" describes the neighborhood's history and literary legacy, as well as the author's memories as he walks the neighborhood.
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About the Author
Paul F. Kennedy lives in Aspinwall, PA with his wife Patty. He is a life-long Pittsburgher, born in Lawrenceville and reared in Point Breeze from age 2. He is a graduate of Central Catholic High School, Indiana U. of Pa., and Carnegie Mellon University. He is currently a docent at the Fort Pitt Block House museum and a cantor soloist at St. Scholastica Church. Hobbies include winemaking, travel, genealogy, and studying languages. Paul has written over 60 articles for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, mostly about local history, including a 1997 feature article on the Point Breeze neighborhood. He has had poems published in Laurel Highlands Scene, Raystown Review, and Miraculous Medal. He has had short stories published in Bridge and Tunnel Books and Loyalhanna Review, and a memoir in Pittsburgh Quarterly. He is the author of A Pittsburgh Gamble, a novel set in Pittsburgh at the time of the 1960 World Series, and of Billy Conn: the Pittsburgh Kid, a biography of Pittsburgh boxer Billy Conn. His 2014 article The Man Who Saved the Block House was featured on the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial section.