The Constant Outsider
Xlibris Corporation, 2008
Reviewed for Reader Views 8/08
“The Constant Outsider” is the autobiography of Tom Cirignano, a man who grew up in the working-class neighborhoods of Boston, including South Boston, Dorchester and Braintree. While he isn’t famous, his story is one wrought with tension, danger, love, laughter, tales of poor judgment, and the lessons to be learned from a life lived on the edge.
Growing up as an Italian boy in the predominantly Irish neighborhood of Dorchester, Tom got his first taste of being an outsider. He did not understand why he was being alienated by the other kids. He was ignored and excluded from playing in the street ball games, and had few friends, because he was from a different ethnic group. His father managed a relatively successful gas station and repair shop, Emerson Auto, and he would often come home with gifts for his son that the other kids saw and envied, which led to even further ostracism.
As he got older Tom worked in, and eventually managed, Emerson Auto. He still felt the prejudice against himself as a teenager and adult when he moved from town to town because he was not from these neighborhoods and was therefore an “outsider.” Not one to be cast aside, Tom did his best to incorporate himself in to a group of young men that hung out at the neighborhood high school and, then as an adult, to gain acceptance in the local taverns and restaurants. Through his perseverance, he was able to make some great and lasting friendships.
“The Constant Outsider” by Thomas M. Cirignano is a tale of bullying, fistfights, drinking and the problems that go along with it, mob connections and run-ins, like the one with well-known crime boss Whitey Bulger, theft and loss. It is a tale of finding acceptance, learning and growing from personal and professional mistakes, faith and love. It is a multifaceted, complex, interesting story. As the author tries to impress upon his readers during the course of his story, if a South Boston mechanic has a tale to tell, so do you. Write it down, even if you don’t plan to share it as Tom Cirignano did. You just might be surprised how interesting your life has been.