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Down Clark Street: New Five-Star Coming-of-Age Tale Captures 1950s Small-Town America, Its Innocence and a Rapidly-Evolving Culture

Michael Panno’s ‘Down Clark Street’ tells the insightful and heart-warming story of a young boy whose dreams of playing professional baseball paint an authentic picture of life in small-town America circa the late 1950s. During his hours outside imagining a home run to a chance meeting that turns his dream into something much bigger, readers will explore the time’s evolving attitudes to race and family. One critic has already hailed the volume “a rite-of-passage novel that doesn't fall into easy stereotypes”.


Laguna Beach, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/12/2015 -- In small-town 1950s America, life was hard and it took grit…real grit…to follow any dreams. While children in modern society live through their cellphones and battle the fierce forces of entitlement, an uplifting new novel by Michael Panno encapsulates how rites of passage were won in days gone by.

'Down Clark Street' takes readers to a small hard-working Illinois town to follow one boy's dreams of playing Major League baseball. While it's a knock out of the park for fans of the great game, readers from all walks of life are reveling in the author's authentic reminders of adolescence.


Illinois, winter, 1958. Eleven-year-old Michael Carmello lives with his parents and five siblings in a small house in Hardscrabble, Illinois. His father ekes out a living driving a cab, while his mother works part time at the local hospital. Michael wants to tryout for Little League in the spring, and dreams of someday being a Major League ball player. But dreams don't find a lot of support in Hardscrabble; that is, not until Michael meets Cornelius (Neely) Brown, a former pitcher with the Negro League, and a terminal patient at the hospital. Down Clark Street, Michael Panno's latest novel, takes us on a young boy's heartwarming journey from childhood into adolescence as he learns a little about baseball and a lot about life.

"I wrote the novel to find the perfect balance between baseball, and something much broader that will appeal to all fans of fiction," explains the author. "Ultimately, it's an ode to the struggles of adolescence that we all faced, set against the backdrop of a society that was also trying to find its place in the world."

Continuing, "The Civil Rights movement and race issues flow under the main narrative to add another level of strain to my protagonist's maturity. In all, I wanted to write a powerful tale that seeks to preserve the memory of a society that was in a juxtaposition of innocence and fierce discord. How does it shape Michael and his dream of Major League baseball? You'll have to buy the book to find out!"

Since its release, the novel has garnered a string of rave reviews. Kirkus Reviews comment, "A novel that fans of baseball fiction and coming-of-age stories will find worth a read... descriptive passages, reminiscent of Richard Russo's work, which evoke the chilly endlessness of winter by the Great Lakes...the book does deal gracefully with issues of race and faith, and it reveals how Michael's young mind parses them as basic issues of fairness while still grasping some of their complexity."

Portland Book Review adds, "Michael Panno's Down Clark Street is a rite-of-passage novel that doesn't fall into easy stereotypes....Panno shines when he writes in a way that leaves readers guessing about what a character means. He weaves his story and subplots skillfully and arrives at the bittersweet ending without leading the reader astray. This novel offers a clear and credible snapshot of small town life in the late 1950s. That alone makes it a valuable read."

A judge at the 22nd Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published awards praises the story's authenticity, adding, "The author has done a wonderful job...excels at giving us a world of detail in just one little action...has a tenderness that is a great strength of the book. Reminds the reader of his/her own challenges and lessons of the growing up years, mixed with the magic of childhood...great scenery and sense of place, a big strength of this book throughout."

'Down Clark Street', from Primordial Press, is available now: http://amzn.to/1A9hEjp

About Michael Panno
Michael Panno is a native of Illinois, now residing with his wife in Southern California. Mr. Panno is a professional musician, having toured and recorded with The Tractors out of Tulsa, OK. He has published three novels to date: Animal Rites, Shocks and Bar-B-Q, and his most recent, Down Clark Street, which is receiving rave reviews. Mr. Panno has also recently completed the screenplay for OR-7, The Journey, a documentary about the first wild wolf to set foot into California in almost one hundred years.