THE BRINI BOY – JANE McCULLOCH
“McCulloch is a storyteller and her medium is the novel, so the characters and settings are vivid, the dialogue is lean and authentic, and the story is intense.” – Dr Stephen Carver
Trando is only thirteen years old, but he knows he is the one person who can save his best friend from the electric chair.
It is 1919 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Trando Brini, a promising violinist and the child of Italian immigrants, lives quietly with his parents and their lodger Bart Vanzetti.
This is not a good time for Italian-Americans. Assassinations and bombings committed by a handful of Italian Anarchists on US soil has resulted in a tense climate of suspicion and paranoia. When known Anarchists Bart and Nick Sacco are arrested for their alleged roles in a fatal holdup, Trando knows for certain his friend is innocent. Thus begins seven years of trials and appeals, during which Trando, his community, and a growing number of political activists and intellectuals challenge a biased American Justice System.
It is a struggle between David and Goliath, in which the ‘Brini Boy’ must risk everything – his musical career, his first love and the life of his dearest friend.
In this true story of courage, bravery and determination, we can more fully understand the America of the present by revisiting its turbulent past.
“The Brini Boy is a poignant and gripping novel about the Sacco/Vanzetti case – a trial about race, immigration and radical politics that divided America in the 1920s. The parallels with current events are obvious, making this a powerful political allegory as well and a compelling bio-novel that combines a coming-of-age story with a nail-biting courtroom drama.” – Dr Stephen Carver
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“A wonderful read – a story of discrimination that resonates today just as it did then. Don’t miss this one.” – C.G.McEnery
It was on the following day, when Trando returned from school, that his father called him into the kitchen. His mother was sitting at the table and he noticed at once that she looked pale and her eyes were red as if she’d been crying. His favourite cookies were on the table so he quickly realised there must be something badly wrong, because his mother only ever put these cookies out on Sundays or on special occasions. She now gave him one and his father told him to sit down and sat down beside him. He looked tired and worried as he took Trando’s hand, which again was very unusual. He hesitated before he spoke.
“Trando, I want you to be brave and try and stay calm while you listen to what I am going to tell you…”
Trando felt a panic rising in him. This must be about Bart. It had to be about Bart. But somehow he forced himself not to interrupt and let his father continue.
“Trando, the police arrested Bart and Nick Sacco last night and they are being held in the police cells in Bridgewater.” He paused, noting his son had lost colour in his cheeks, so he continued quickly, “We think they were also after some other men who were at Bart’s meetings. Some of these men have disappeared and two of them called Orciani and Boda seem to have got away, maybe back to Italy…”
Trando could stay silent no longer and leapt to his feet. “But why Papa, why? What do the police say Bart has done? They must have the wrong man. Bart would never harm anyone. He is not an anarchist. He told me. How can they arrest him when he has done nothing wrong?”
Vincenzo shook his head sadly, “Trando, you have to understand, they found a lot of bad things on the two men, particularly on Bart. They found guns, ammunition and some printed leaflets about his comrades’ war and about rights for the workers. In these difficult times that doesn’t look good.”
Alfonsine looked up at him and said, “But we all know Bart was only trying to get rid of all those things, to save his comrades. He’d told us he was going to do that.”
Trando added, “He would never use a gun. He told me.”
Alfonsine put her arms round the boy. “Trando you must try and be brave for Bart. He wouldn’t want you to worry. It is a big mistake and we all know they have the wrong man.” She started to cry, “I know Bart never hurt anyone. You will see they have arrested the wrong man.”
Trando was crying now too. “He will die like Salsedo I know it. They will torture him and he will die. He should have gone back to Italy. He would have been safe then. I meant to tell him, but I never got a chance. Now it is my fault he is in prison.”
His parents exchanged glances and his mother tried to comfort him. “Don’t cry Trando. Your Papa will find a clever lawyer to help Bart. He will soon be free and we will all be happy again, like we were at Christmas. Yes?” She wiped his tears away with her apron.
His father added. “You mustn’t blame yourself son. Bart would never have left for Italy even if you had asked him. We’d already told him to go and he refused. He felt he had to look after his comrades. He would never have gone back to Italy until he knew all the comrades were safe.”
Trando nodded. In his heart he knew that to be true. He now asked if he could go to his room and his mother nodded, but his real intention was to go to his place on the landing so he could hear his parents talking without him being there. He realised they had only spoken to him like that in order to break the news to him as gently as possible and he was grateful at their efforts to try and spare his feelings.
Reaching his place on the landing he saw with relief that the kitchen door was slightly open, so he could just about hear them and his instinct proved right, they now talked more freely. In hushed voices they spoke of a top prosecution lawyer who had been summoned by the police to prosecute Bart and Nick Sacco. His father said this man was a lawyer who had a reputation for always winning his cases. More worryingly he added that the country wouldn’t worry which Italians were punished as long as somebody was, and everyone knew the raid was the work of Italian anarchists so they didn’t mind who was arrested.
This seemed like the worst possible news. His mother added angrily that this big shot lawyer would be sure to make people think all Italians were anarchists and tell everyone they were all the same and his father agreed saying that the Americans would now be looking for capital charges of murder and would not be satisfied until they got it.
Trando could listen no more. He returned to his room, lay on his bed and stared at the ceiling. He knew he somehow had to find a way to help Bart but just couldn’t figure out how he could possibly do that. It was all so bewildering. How had things gone so badly wrong for Bart in such a short time? He had no answers and it made him feel sad and helpless.
A few days later events took yet another twist, but at last, to Trando’s relief, he was to be offered the opportunity he had longed for and that was a chance to help Bart in a way that nobody else could.
For his parents it turned out to be a nightmare which had only just begun.
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“This is a hero’s story accurately documented and sensitively written. The reader will feel the questioning and the frustration, the anger and the pain. This will be coupled with praise and appreciation for the strength of the human soul.” – Kathleen Heinze
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane McCulloch is a writer, dramatist, lyricist and director of theatre and opera.
After leaving Drama School Jane specialised in writing biographical dramas of modern and historical characters, ranging from Byron to Buster Keaton – from Beethoven, to Roosevelt and Churchill. After a long association with the famous London Old Vic Theatre, Jane started her own company in l985, the English Chamber Theatre, Dame Judi Dench is the President. Jane wrote, devised and directed over thirty new works for ECT. These works divided into two categories, full scale plays and literary entertainments. ECT Productions were performed all over the world, including seasons at the Doolittle Theatre Los Angeles, and in the West End London and for these productions Jane worked with many of the great names in British Theatre, including Sir Derek Jacobi, Julian Glover, Timothy West and Fenella Fielding.
Outside ECT Jane also worked as a freelance director for theatre, opera and music theatre. In 1999 Jane staged Jessye Norman’s “THE SACRED ELLINGTON” at the Barbican and at the Epidaurus Theatre in Greece. In 2000 she staged it at the Chatelet in Paris. In 2006 and 2007 she was the first English director and first woman in 70 years to direct the longest running American outdoor drama, THE LOST COLONY in North Carolina.
Jane became the Artistic Director of Opera UK in 2007 and for them directed many productions, including, COSI FAN TUTTE, THE MERRY WIDOW, THE BARBER OF SEVILLE and LA TRAVIATA.
As a writer she has worked in theatre, radio, television and the recording studio.
In 2014 she gave up most of her theatre work in order to concentrate on her writing – and most especially, fiction books.
The first volume of her Three Lives Trilogy, “PARALLEL LINES” was published in January 2015. The second book “TRIANGLES IN SQUARES” was published in November 2015 and the last book of the trilogy, “FULL CIRCLE” in May 2016.
In 2017 she published “THE BRINI BOY” a true story based on the Sacco and Vanzetti case.
She published her first anthology of poems, BETWEEN SANITY AND MADNESS” in June 2015. Her second anthology, SAINT OR SINNER, was published in 2017.
Other published books include two works for children, SIR EDWARD & NIMROD and DIGGORY LOPPET.
All her books can be purchased from Amazon and further details are on her website: www.janemcculloch.com
Jane has four children and ten grandchildren and lives in Putney, London.