Since I wrote Death Book (Crossing Press, 1985), I have sprinkled my writing with poems. In these poems I have been occupied with family, friends, and neighbors and elemental matters of birth, death, and migrations in body and mind. I have also turned to matters of water, nature, distant places, war, memory, Christ, and grace. This is on display, as to be seen below, in samples from my first collection of poems the title Buoyancies: A Ballast Master's Log (Crossings, 2014), Diagnostics: A Poetics of Time (Bordighera, 2017), My Three Sicilies: Stories, Poems, and Histories (Bordighera, 2016), which has been reveiwed by Marisa Frasca, Sicilia Parra (Fall, 2016) and by Mark Spano, Podcast: "My Three Sicilies,"Times of Sicily," (February 29, 2016), and Towers of Aging (Crossings Press, 2020), with a lengthy Introduction by Emilio DeGrazia, And most recently The Trinity of Grace (Legas, 2020).
As I wrote short stories to begin My Three Sicilies, so my just published Buffalo Man: Life of a Boy Giant on the Minnesota River, which mixes history and fiction, is a novel of episodes, tales, and adventures rich in folklore, metaphor, and poetry.
Buffalo Man is described by this summary and the two following blurbs:
This work is serious fun. It is about a giant child’s growing body and awakening mind. In the spirit of Rabelais and Swift, Buffalo Man is the story of a Gargantuan child, aptly nicknamed “Gar”— who was born out of the sky in 1848. He lands in the pasture of a Métis trading post along the Minnesota River. The following chapters record Gar’s upbringing, baptism, adventures, and education as a physical phenomenon and a dawning prodigy. Episodic, comic, ironic, scatological, and mystical, Buffalo Man tells of the 1850s childhood of this Paul Bunyan of the river, living among the Métis, Natives, French- Canadians, New Englanders, and other European settlers along the Minnesota River during territorial times. A zany mix of myths, storytelling, singing, dancing, games, and jokes, Buffalo Man introduces the reader to Minnesota’s last giant in a world that has no more room for giants.
“Buffalo Man is sprawling novel centered around the
life and times of the mythic boy-giant Joseph Bisson.
Blending the history of the Upper Midwest with magic
realism and ribald peasant humor, it captures part of
our past beyond the reach of modern narratives.”
-John Radzilowski, Ph.D., University of Alaska Southeast
“Amato molds four classic forms of the novel into
one coherent work that is imaginative; adventurous;
often marked by a spiritual-mystical feel; sometimes,
in the tradition of Rabelais, earthy and brimming
with ribald behavior and humor; and literally a walk
through the history of a place and time, and the ideas
and philosophy of that time. It is a historical novel, a
quest/hero’s journey novel, and a picaresque novel all
wrapped around an unforgettable literary character,
Gar—the Buffalo Man.”
-Dana Yost, Morris, Minnesota