I have never been to a book launch party at a pizzeria, but the release of Sinatra & Me by Franz Douskey is unlike any other book I’ve promoted. So when I joined two colleagues to take a two-hour train from Grand Central Station in Manhattan to Sally’s Apizza in New Haven, Connecticut, I knew we were in for a treat.
The book, an intimate look at Frank Sinatra and the life of an iconic singer and actor, was based on dozens of hours of interviews with Tony Consiglio, the man who was closest to Frank Sinatra and who spent three decades on the road with him. Consiglio died in 2008 but Douskey, a writer whose last book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, was able to capture Consiglio’s account of his friendship with Ol’ Blue Eyes by piecing together dozens of taped interviews they had conducted in the 2000’s.
Sinatra & Me is the first non-fiction print book for Tantor, one of the nation’s top three audiobook publishers. Tantor, based in Connecticut, has launched a line of books that will be released simultaneously as print, e-book, and audiobook.
The party was held at the famous dining establishment that used to be owned by the Consiglios. The wood panel walls are decorated with raving reviews, articles about the history associated with the place where Sinatra used to frequent, photos of famous visitors and letters from fans of the scrumptious thin-crust pies such as one from Hillary Clinton (who graduated from nearby Yale University).
The pizza lived up to its well-earned reputation. I grew up in Brooklyn, where pizza practically originated, but the pizza at Sally’s is like candy. It was more like an English Muffin with melted cheese and fresh, sweet tomato sauce on top. You could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Though one would think there’s nothing left to say about the incredible career of Sinatra, this book offers plenty of new insight into Sinatra the man and not just the legend. Consiglio was practically married to him, spending 30 years with Sinatra, wherever he performed, taking care of anything and everything for Sinatra. He was a loyal friend, confidant, and protector. He was with him on visits to the White House, at JFK’s funeral, with Marilyn Monroe (who was walking around naked), with the infamous Rat Pack, on movie sets, at concerts and helping Sinatra with errands that could have included whatever deeds Sinatra could not entrust another with.
Sinatra and Me, which features dozens of never-before-published photos of Sinatra, Consiglio, and many bold-faced names, details a period of time that spans from the 1930’s into the 1970’s. It is an inside account of the prime years of one of America’s greatest icons. The legendary entertainer is best known for a six-decade career in music, film, television and radio. This book takes an up-close and personal look into the exciting world of a man who was adored by the American public but who fiercely valued privacy.
I felt Sinatra come alive at Sally’s, listening to the Consiglio family members and the author talk about him. I happened to sit at the booth Sinatra called his own and where his portrait hangs from. Though I never met Consiglio or Sinatra, I certainly have enjoyed getting to know them with this book. And eating the best pizza north of New York City added to the experience.