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Synchronous images from Chiara Barzini's Sister Stop Breathing

«But I didn't know until this day, that it was... Barzini all along.»—these are the pivotal words from The Godfather, when Don Corleone realizes it was Barzini & not the Tattataglias, that killed Sonny & orchestrated the war against them. This was my only association with the name Barzini, until meeting Chiara Barzini the first week we arrived in Rome. She was doing a piece for an Italian magazine on American literary journals & wanted to talk to me (not knowing i'd just moved here) about Sleepingfish (which, strangely, was named after another line in The Godfather, when Clemenza says: «It's a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.» (& in case you are curious, i named Calamari Press long before we even dreamed of moving to Italy, because of its ink-squirting associations (& if you're wondering who "Cal A. Mari" is—both my father & my mother's father went by Cal, so it only seems right i'd assume that moniker, at least whilst wearing my publisher hat))).

If you are an Italophile, you would also know that the the quintessential book on the Italian psyche, The Italians, was authored by her grandfather, Luigi Barzini. Ends up, Luigi knew Mario Puzo & Puzo decided to use the Barzini surname for the rival NYC mafia family in his book. In fact, Barzini is such an uncommon name that when the movie was translated here, they changed 'Barzini' to something else, so as not to further tarnish the reputation of the "real" Barzini's.

None of this has anything to do with Chiara Barzini. She has more in common with my upbringing than mafioso Italian culture—like me, she is a banana slug (a graduate from UC Santa Cruz), with hippy leanings, that then put in her time in Gotham. And as i would discover, she writes—& not in the conventional sense of the word, but whose 'voice' defies words. So when i found out she had an unpublished book of short fictions, it only seemed natural that this would be the next Calamari Press book, due out next month—Sister Stop Breathing.

The following are some images Cal A. Mari made for the book. Since a lot of the fictions are short dreamy vignettes, a post-card sized landscape format seemed appropriate. It of course helps to know the context that inspired these images, but for that you'll have to read the book.

Dead Sheep

«Dead Sheep»


Sewage Police

«Sewage Police»


Youth Hostel

«Youth Hostel»


First Love

«First Love» [X]


Polish & Beautiful

«Polish & Beautiful»


Maniac at the Beach

«Maniac at the Beach»


Red Spiders

«Red Spiders»



«Vauville» [X]


Sister Stop Breathing

«Sister Stop Breathing» [X]

The cover & 3 more images from the book (there are 24 in total) are viewable here, along with links to places that fictions from the book have appeared & where Chiara will be reading in NYC next month. If you are interested in purchasing original images from the book, they €100 euros each (unframed, includes shipping from Rome & a copy of the book), contact me.


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