Lorenzo Carcaterra to read Sept. 22-23

Author of *Sleepers* launches The Center for the Humanities' Writers Series

Lorenzo Carcaterra, author of The New York Times bestseller Sleepers, will launch Washington University’s 2003-04 Center for the Humanities’ Writers Series.

Lorenzo Carcaterra
Lorenzo Carcaterra

Carcaterra will host two events while on campus. At 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, Carcaterra will read from his work in the School of Law’s Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 202. At 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, he will lead a seminar and audience discussion on the craft of writing in McMillan Café, Room 115, McMillan Hall.

Both events are free and open to the public and are sponsored by The Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences (formerly the International Writers Center in Arts & Sciences). Copies of Carcaterra’s works will be available for purchase and a book-signing and reception will follow each program. Anheuser-Busch Hall is located on Olympian Way, just north of Forsyth Boulevard. McMillan Hall is located a short walk east of Anheuser-Busch Hall. For more information call (314) 935-5576.

Sleepers — which was made into a feature film starring Brad Pitt, Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Bacon, Minnie Driver and Jason Patric — tells the true story of four childhood friends from New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, where Carcaterra himself was raised. When a prank goes horribly wrong, the boys are sentenced to a juvenile home in upstate New York, where they endure brutal beatings and other humiliations at the hands of sadistic guards. As adults, however, the four are reunited to exact dramatic, baroquely realized courtroom vengeance.

“[Carcaterra] writes with the passion of Styron, the guts of Mailer and the sting of James M. Cain,” says noted author William Diehl. Elmore Leonard called Sleepers “a harrowing true story of revenge and retribution. What makes it a mind-blower is the way the story builds, gains momentum with fascinating characters, brutal scenes, to suddenly hit you right between the eyes while they’re glued to the page.”

Carcaterra’s most recent novel, Street Boys, was inspired by another true story — the struggle, during the fall of 1943, of a ragtag army of children to prevent German forces from destroying the city of Naples, Italy.

“I wanted to write a war novel that related to Italians in a heroic way,” Carcaterra explained. “If you grow up Italian-American, and you watch all the war movies, we do one of two things—we surrender or we run. This was one of the few stories where we do neither. In fact, we not only fight, we win, which appealed to me. That it involved children forced at an early age to act like adults interested me.”

Carcaterra began writing as a reporter for The New York Daily News in 1976. He has worked with numerous magazines and remains a regular contributor to Details and The National Geographic Traveler. Carcaterra has also worked extensively in television, with credits including the NBC pilot Rounders, the WB network film The Force and four seasons as managing editor of the CBS series Top Cops. Work for the big screen includes screenplays for Dreamer, Doubt and Street Boys. He is currently a writer and producer for NBC’s Law & Order.

“Screenwriting appeals to me in almost the same way newspaper writing once did — you have to tell your story in a confined environment; everything must be visual and the tale must be driven by dialogue,” Carcaterra said in a recent interview with Belles Lettres, The Center for the Humanities’ bi-monthly literary review. “You cannot waste words or space. People have to be able to see the story as they read it…It is an amazing process. Books are very solitary. Scripts are like working in the middle of a crowded room.”

Carcaterra is married with two children and lives in New York City.