The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture / Tagus Press is a multidisciplinary international studies and outreach unit dedicated to the study of the language, literatures and cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world. Working in close partnership with the Department of Portuguese and the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives, it is the oldest of these units devoted to Portuguese at UMass Dartmouth.

Announcements

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth announces most recent publication in the Portuguese in the Americas Series: Tony: A New England Boyhood by Charles Reis Felix

Rui ZinkMarch 4, 2009 – Dartmouth, MA. Tony: A New England Boyhood by Charles Reis Felix is an autobiographical novel about growing up in Gaw (New Bedford), Massachusetts in the 1930s much in the same way that Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s celebrated boyhood novel, The Story of a Bad Boy, recounts his adventures growing up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. But there are sharp differences between the two novels. Instead of a Yankee in a small town, we have a Portuguese boy, Tony Alfama, in an industrial city. Felix presents a rounded-out picture of Tony. You see Tony at home with his mother. You see him with the gang on the street. You see him at school. You see him looking for work in the last chapter. But most of all you see him with his best friend Lommy as they explore the city, doing things that require no money: watching a baseball game, watching girls bowl at the bowling alley, watching girls sunbathe at Lindamar Beach, watching the vaudeville acts on a Saturday night from the doorway of Cozy’s Café, watching the hula-hula dancers and “the only living her-MAW-phro-dite in the world” gives short demonstrations at the carnival. Raging hormones play a major role in the novel. Tony and Lommy are drawn to the eternal magnet of woman. Determined to have a sexual experience, they set out on a quest to find a girl or woman who will accommodate them. When they finally find her lying on the sand of Lindamar Beach one dark night, it does not end the way they had expected.

With unblinking honesty, Felix examines a life lived. He recaptures a time and place in history that is receding ever more distant from us. The argument could be made that the second main character in the novel is the city of Gaw itself. Despite his seriousness, Felix is playful at times and manages to find humor in many situations.

Charles Reis Felix was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, one of four children of Portuguese immigrant parents. He attended local public schools and graduated from New Bedford High School in 1941. He studied at the University of Michigan from 1941-43, at which time he was drafted into the US Army. After the war he received his B.A. in history from Stanford University, and became an elementary school teacher. He is married, with two grown children, and lives with his wife Barbara in a cabin among the redwoods of Northern California.

Felix’s other publications include Crossing the Sauer (Burford Books, 2002), a bestselling account of his experience as a combat infantryman in WWII; Through a Portagee Gate (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 2004), a remarkably honest self-portrait and an endearing tribute to the author’s father, a Portuguese immigrant cobbler who came to America in 1915; and Da Gama, Cary Grant, and the Election of 1934 (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 2005), the story of an election for mayor in a Massachusetts mill town in 1934 as seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old Portuguese boy.

Tony: A New England Boyhood is the tenth book of the Portuguese in the Americas Series published by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture. The Series documents the variety and complexity of the Portuguese-American experience by publishing books in the social sciences, history and literature. For more information visit: http://www.portstudies.umassd.edu/pas/index.htm.

The books in the Series are available for purchase at Amazon.com, Baker Books in Dartmouth and Fall River, and the UMass Dartmouth Campus Store. For more information, contact the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture by calling 508-999-8255 or sending an email to greis@umassd.edu

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