Puccini for Beginners (Everything So Far)

Institute History


A coming of age story about adults, EVERYTHING SO FAR takes place over the course of one year in the East Village. It is a baroque tale that interweaves the life of Allegra Castiglione, a poet in her early 30s, with her family, friends and neighbors. Although usually pessimistic by nature, Allegra has convinced herself that the world she lives in is built for a lifetime. What she discovers is that as people search for meaning in adulthood they inevitably leave the past, the neighborhood and perhaps even New York City behind.

Allegra spends most of her time working on the crossword puzzle, taking temp jobs, and attempting to write poetry in a culture more interested in screenplays than dithyrambs. Complicated friendships also take up a lot of time. For instance, Molly Franchino: aspiring novelist and Allegra's best friend. When Molly forgets to buy a turkey for their annual Thanksgiving dinner she reassures Allegra, "No one will even notice the damn turkey. We've got tons to eat here," and pulls out four tins of caviar. Then there's Nell, Allegra's ex-lover. Nell is a high strung editor caught in a merciless battle between maxed-out credit cards and a never-ending thirst for expensive clothes. When Nell is finally evicted from her apartment it is Allegra who takes her in.

Then Mr. Modicowitz, Allegra's elderly neighbor, spins into her orbit. Allegra is informed by Carmen, the Chinese drag queen who lives downstairs, that Mr. Modicowitz is starving to death in his apartment. Appalled to be involved with an old man who sees all non-white people as "negroes," Allegra is nevertheless pulled into the life of Mr. Modicowitz. He's a tart Polish wino with no next of kin. His passage from solitary old age to "the Other Side where there're a lot of nice dames with long legs" (as he describes death) serves as counterpoint to the youthful struggles of Allegra's peers.

Completing this elaborate canvas is Allegra's family of origin. They're dealing with Byzantine issues of their own. Her divorced parents, Max and Caroline, live one floor from each other in the same Murray Hill apartment building. Confounded by the "Starbuck-ing" of the City, they seek asylum in recipes and retrospection. And when Aunt Louise, a public school teacher, is hospitalized after being attacked by one of her students, she informs Allegra simply, "It's Ronald Reagan's fault."

With Allegra as our downtown girl-Virgil, we are taken through nine circles of Hell and back. These people lack most of the material trappings of American adulthood and yet they face death, dreams and fast food restaurants with the fierce conviction that humanity is good even when all the evidence points to the contrary.


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