Pasta Mike by Andrew Cotto is published with Black Rose Writing and is loosely based on the relationship of Andrew Cotto and his friend Mike O’ Shea. Mike was Andrew Cotto’s childhood friend, born only days apart and growing up as neighbours in a borough of New York City. Mike O’ Shea passed away not long after his fortieth birthday and Andrew Cotto was very much impacted by his death. A need to grieve for his friend resulted in Andrew Cotto realising the importance of men looking after their own mental health and not being afraid to express publicly their feelings.
“The two main characters of Andy and Mike are very much me and my friend Mike. I am true to the contours of our lifelong friendship and the immense value of it in our lives. I am also, painfully, true to what it felt like when that friendship was no longer present as I was committed to tackling men and mental health.” – Andrew Cotto
Andrew Cotto was very aware of protecting Mike O’ Shea’s family so he changed some details within the story and wrote a novella mixing fact with fiction as a tribute to the memory of his friend. Described as ‘a story of friendship and loss’, Andrew Cotto takes the reader on a journey back in time to a 1970s NY neighbourhood where the Irish and Italian community lived alongside each other. Mike was Irish and Andy was Italian. From the very beginning the two boys’ personalities clicked and through the following years they were always there for each other.
Andrew Cotto is a champion of Italian food so you can expect a few lush food descriptions throughout, wrapped around the memories. Mike had a passion for pasta made the traditional way, hence the name of the book.
Mike O’ Shea is described as both physically and emotionally strong, a go-getter in life, one who was prepared to overcome any obstacle thrown his way. He lit up a room on entry and within minutes he owned that room as folk gravitated toward him. He was a rock of support for many, someone that could be trusted, a loyal friend. In the book Andy Cotto is a mess after Mike’s death. His drinking increases and his inability to cope breaks him. Returning to the home place sooths Andy, providing him with the closure he needs to carry on with living. Andy Cotto faces his demons by talking about his friend, sharing anecdotes and keeping his memory alive, which is exactly what Andrew Cotto hopes to achieve by writing this story.
A heartfelt read, Pasta Mike is a sincere and warm tribute to a best friend while also highlighting the very important societal issue of men’s mental health.
(c) Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)
Order your copy online here.