Desena, Carmine 1957–

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Desena, Carmine 1957–

PERSONAL: Born December 31, 1957, in NY; son of Vincent (in sales) and Angelina (a hotel manager; maiden name, Risi) DeSena. Education: Queens College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1979; studied playwriting at HB Studios. Politics: Liberal Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Theater, film, reading, exercise, art.

ADDRESSES: Home—320 E. 42nd St., Apt. 1308, New York, NY 10017.

CAREER: Zueker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, NY, assistant director of psychiatric rehabilitation, 1979–. Cofounder of a comedy troupe OK, So We Lied.

MEMBER: Certified Rehabilitation Counselors Association.


Lies: The Whole Truth (humor), Perigee Books (New York, NY), 1993.

(With Gil C. Alicea) The Air Down Here: True Tales from a South Bronx Boyhood, photographs by Alicea, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1995.

The Comedy Market: A Writer's Guide to Making Money Being Funny, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1996.

Satan's Little Instruction Book (humor), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Jennifer DeSena) Girl Power: Women on Winning, Andrews McMeel (Kansas City, MO), 2001.

Contributor to magazines and newspapers, including Us, Theater Week, New York Times, and Country Life.

ADAPTATIONS: Tommy Boy Records optioned the film rights to The Air Down Here: True Tales from a South Bronx Boyhood.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Again for the First Time.

SIDELIGHTS: After befriending Gil C. Alicea, a Puerto Rican teenager living with his dad in the South Bronx, Carmine DeSena began recording what would become The Air Down Here: True Tales from a South Bronx Boyhood. The book consists of 115 "short-attention-span observations of a teenager growing up in the hood," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who felt the collection may appeal to its juvenile audience but that it tells less about "ghetto teens" than do other similar works. Merri Monks's Booklist review more positively describes the book as an "authentic and truthful self-portrait," claiming adolescents both native to and foreign to "urban neighborhoods" may "enjoy the book."

"Writing was never something I planned," DeSena once told CA. "It began innocently in high school and evolved into a major facet of my life. After college graduation I worked as a reporter for a local newspaper, doing reviews, news articles, and human interest stories. My experience in the human services helped me branch out as a freelancer, working on science, medical, and service pieces. After a busy two years I felt the need to be on the creative end.

"I began to study playwriting, improvisation, and acting. For the next five years I wrote and performed with the comedy troupe OK, So We Lied, at New York clubs, parties, conferences, and colleges. Although it was a wonderful learning experience, the performance aspect limited my writing. I left the group and began writing comedy for ABC-Radio. Two years later I published my first humor work. Finally I feel I have found my niche. I plan to continue to work on humor and socially relevant issues.

"My strength as a writer is my ability to create from the world around me. Often I find myself creating pieces or solidifying book ideas based on my own experiences, as well as those of the people around me. I am influenced by the arts, with a strong attraction to theater. I am what you would consider a culture junkie. I imbibe plays, novels, nonfiction, short stories, films, museums, television, and music.

"My creativity and love of the arts is my process. I don't quite understand how it works, but I have never experienced writer's block. My mind weaves ideas into writing, based on what I observe and the inspiration I get from the arts. My concern for the human condition defines my subjects. I want people to laugh, to be able to identify themselves with others to see that they are not alone, and to convince people that change is possible. I want to offer solutions. Positivism remains a constant focus."



Booklist, Merri Monk, review of The Air Down Here: True Tales from a South Bronx Boyhood, October 15, 1995, p. 393.

Publishers Weekly, August 21, 1995, review of The Air Down Here, p. 54; October 23, 1995, p. 22.