DENVILLE, NJ – TAPinto columnist Mark Di Ionno stopped by the Denville Public Library to talk about and sign copies of his newest novel, Gods of Wood and Stone, on Tuesday, March 12.
In front of an intimate gathering, Di Ionno outlined the themes of Gods of Wood and Stone, an American story narrated through the prism of America’s favorite pastime – baseball – that introduces readers to two angry and disillusioned men who possess disparate world views on American values and culture. Joe Grudeck is a beloved first-ballot Baseball Hall of Famer who travels to Cooperstown, New York, to deliver his acceptance speech. Horace Mueller lives on a farm on the outskirts of Cooperstown and uses his hands to forge metal as a blacksmith. After a shocking and violent encounter between Grudeck and Mueller, the reader becomes engrossed in a thrilling, page-turning tale of rural class versus urban class, nostalgia versus progress, tradition versus popular culture, aspirations versus disappointments.
“At its core, God of Wood and Stone is about fatherhood and modern masculinity,” stated Di Ionno. “The blacksmith and soldier used to be revered as the model of manhood, great masculinity,” he shared. “With the advent of popular culture in 1869, however, the embodiment of manhood shifted to athletes.” Through Grudeck and Mueller, Di Ionno explores the impact of the shift on men’s self-perception, self-worth and expectations.
Di Ionno also shared with the audience that he had based Grudeck on Carlton Fisk, a retired Major League Baseball catcher and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who once played for the Boston Red Sox. Given the fact that Di Ionno started writing Gods of Wood and Stone in 2004, presciently, Mueller turned out to be a composite manifestation of the sentiments expressed by many Trump voters, Di Ionno said, believing they now live in a country they no longer recognize. Both characters reflect Di Ionno’s own life experiences at one point or another.
Di Ionno recently joined TAPinto as a columnist in February. Formerly, he who wrote for the Star-Ledger, is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary and author of five acclaimed books including, Gods of Wood and Stone.
During the book talk, Di Ionno expressed his happiness with joining TAPinto. “I’m glad to be where I am now because I get to do what I love – write local news.” He also acknowledged that he garners more pageviews with TAPinto than he did at the Star-Ledger and attributed that accomplishment to the fact that the TAPinto news sites are designed for readers.
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