Author's debut novel set along Crab Hollow Road in Penn Hills
Crab Hollow Road is a half-mile stretch connecting Frankstown Road to Laketon Road in Penn Hills' Laketon Heights neighborhood.
But for Karen Gennari, 61, of West Mifflin, it was an entire world unto itself, and served as the inspiration for her first novel, “The Crab Hollow Chronicles.”
Gennari, who grew up on the west Penn Hills street, said her childhood memories inspired the book, which she referred to as “a fictitious memoir.”
“The first chapter is all true, but it's mostly fiction,” Gennari said. “I (originally) thought I would just write a short story about an incident that happened. But once I wrote that, I just decided to keep going.”
Gennari grew up in a neighborhood of mostly young boys, “so I had to deal with them all the time,” she said.
The book is set in 1961 and '62, spanning a year in the life of the fictitious character Karen Schmidt.
“I just loved my neighborhood,” Gennari said. “We lived on the level area of Crab Hollow, and that's where all the action took place. There was an empty lot where we rode our bikes, played kickball, Wiffleball and dodgeball.
“There were enough boys in the neighborhood that we had two teams, and sometimes the boys would let me play.”
While the story is mostly confined to Gennari's former stomping grounds, it expands out to reference Pittsburgh, the Pirates and Isaly's. And while it is officially set in “Pine Hills,” local residents will certainly recognize references to places like the Eastwood Theater, G.C. Murphy's and Kresge's from the former East Hills Shopping Center, as well as walks to the bookmobile — though Gennari changed its location to “Shusterman's Pharmacy on Crescent Road.”
Gennari has fond memories of riding her bike, roller-skating, jumping up and down the street on her pogo stick and “just being outside every day,” she said. “I was an outdoor kid — that was part of the reason I had to deal with the boys!”
Gennari will host a discussion of “The Crab Hollow Chronicles” on Monday, at 7 p.m. in the William E. Anderson Library of Penn Hills.
In addition to talking about the novel, Gennari will also be bringing memorabilia from her childhood, including original articles on the John and Robert Kennedy assassinations, a Howdy Doody doll, a Charles Chips tin, and other items from the 1950s and '60s.
“I really have fond memories of growing up there,” she said.
“The Crab Hollow Chronicles” is available through eLectio Publishing. For more information, visit Electiopublish ing.com. and click on the “Bookstore” link.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.