David Ciminello in conversation with Joanna Rose

We are excited to host author David Ciminello who will be reading and discussing his new novel The Queen of Steeplechase Park published by Forest Avenue Press. He will be joined in conversation with Joanna Rose.

The Queen of Steeplechase Park is the absolutely, positively, practically, almost-true story of infamous burlesque queen and magic meatball maker Belladonna Marie Donato. Pregnant at fifteen after gleefully losing her virginity to pansexual neighborhood strongman Francis Anthony Mozzarelli, she is robbed of her baby by a pack of nefarious nuns and her embittered papa has her sterilized without her consent (legal in 1935). With the help of a besotted Francis and her top-secret meatball recipe, a devastated Bella embarks on a riotous quest through Depression-era Coney Island sideshows, the tawdry world of peek-a-boo striptease routines, a queer mob marriage, and a tasty collection of wisdom-filled recipes to find her lost child, herself, and maybe even true love. It all leads Bella back home, to the scene of her Original Sin, where she boldly faces matters of life and death, questions of forgiveness, and a holy mess only the healing properties of great Italian cooking can fix.

David Ciminello is a Lambda Literary Fellow and the proud recipient of a Table 4 Writers Foundation Grant. His fiction has appeared in the Lambda Award-winning anthology Portland Queer: Tales of the Rose City, Nailed Magazine, and in fine artist Stephen O'Donnell's The Untold Gaze. His original screenplay Bruno, an Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting finalist, was made into a motion picture directed by Shirley MacLaine and stars Kathy Bates, Gary Sinese, and Jennifer Tilly. As an actor David has guest starred on Seinfeld ("The Barber"), Murder She Wrote, Matlock, and Kojak. David and his husband, photographer and podcast artist Brian Delaney, reside in Portland.

Joanna Rose is the author of novel Little Miss Strange, which earned the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award. Her second novel A Small Crowd of Strangers published in 2020 by Forest Avenue Press is part love story, part slightly sideways spiritual journey, a "beautifully lyric novel that is the work of a true storyteller", writes Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita. Her work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, Windfall Journal, Cloudbank, Artisan Journal, Northern Lights, Oregon Humanities, High Desert Journal, VoiceCatcher, and Bellingham Review. Her essay That Thing With Feathers was cited as Notable in 2015 Best American Essays. She is an Atheneum Fellow in Poetry, and cohosts the prose critique group Pinewood Table. She also works with youth through Literary Arts' Writers in the Schools and with Young Musicians & Artists. She lives in SE Portland with her husband and, at any given time, several dogs.

Event date: 
Wednesday, June 26, 2024 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
The Queen of Steeplechase Park By David Ciminello Cover Image
ISBN: 9781942436614
Availability: On Our Shelves Now as of 24 Hours Ago. Call first to confirm.
Published: Forest Avenue Press - May 7th, 2024

A Small Crowd of Strangers By Joanna Rose Cover Image
ISBN: 9781942436430
Availability: On Our Shelves Now as of 24 Hours Ago. Call first to confirm.
Published: Forest Avenue Press - September 12th, 2020