PERSONAL: Married Toby Schmulowitz (a social worker); children: Jeffrey, Sarah. Education: Graduated from the University of Rhode Island, 1969; graduated from Boston University School of Law (cum laude), 1976.
ADDRESSES: Home—224 Cindyann Dr., East Greenwich, RI 02818. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Lawyer, journalist, and writer. Providence Journal, Providence, RI, former reporter and photographer; Adler Pollock & Sheehan, Providence, partner for more than fifteen years; lawyer in private practice. Military service: U.S. Army, 1969–71, Vietnamese interpreter.
Rescuing Jeffrey (memoir), Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2000.
Of Rice and Men: A Novel of Vietnam, Ballantine Books/Presidio Press (New York, NY), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: A life-changing accident moved lawyer Richard Galli to write his first book, a memoir titled Rescuing Jeffrey. In it, Galli relates how, on July 4, 1998, his seventeen-year-old son, Jeffrey, dove into a swimming pool and hit his head on the bottom. Galli pulled Jeffrey out and performed cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), saving his life. Rescuing Jeffrey then focuses on the ten days following the injury, during which Jeffrey was diagnosed with quadriplegia, or paralysis of the body below the neckline. Galli and his wife, Toby, learned that Jeffrey must live the rest of his life in a wheelchair, breathing only with the help of a respirator, unable to care for himself. After thorough consideration, the couple was convinced that ending Jeffrey's life support would be the best thing for him. However, Jeffrey's strong will to live became apparent, and Galli and his wife decided to do all they could to ensure that their son received the best care possible.
Reviewers appreciated Galli's honest and unflinching writing style. GraceAnne A. DeCandido, reviewing Rescuing Jeffrey in Booklist, called Galli's memoir "raw, unvarnished, direct—this is a regular guy speaking, a guy who is a lawyer, with a wife and a younger daughter." Carol Fitzgerald, in a review posted on Bookreporter.com, held a similar opinion, stating that "just as Jeffrey's body has been injured horrifically, his dad has incurred his own level of immeasurable emotional pain, which is written here with a rawness and bluntness that is never glossed over." Noelle Oxenhandler, writing in the New York Times Online, agreed, observing that the author "managed to remain genuinely philosophical … while traversing a state of shock and grief so acute that even to read about it is overwhelming." Other reviewers similarly praised the book; a Publishers Weekly critic called Rescuing Jeffrey "gutwrenchingly candid" and concluded that "this eloquent story of heartbreak and hope is ultimately life-affirming."
In 2006 Galli published Of Rice and Men: A Novel of Vietnam. Galli drew from his own experiences in the Vietnam war to write the novel about what soldiers do when they never make it to the front line and thus, never face actual combat. Most of the men in the story are clerks and specialists like protagonist Guy Lopaca, who is supposed to serve as a Vietnamese translator even though he has limited comprehension of the language. Guy and the rest of his company are assigned the task of helping local farmers grow their crops, although the farmers clearly do not need their assistance. Many critics praised Galli's use of humor in Of Rice and Men. "More a series of vignettes than a narrative, the novel unfolds with beguiling tenderness, humor, and wisdom," Alan Moores commented in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews critic also noted the book's humor, calling it "very funny" as well as "invariably respectful, compassionate and often downright admiring toward its cast of clowns." Ultimately, a Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded: "This is a clever, quirky, surprisingly uncynical view of Vietnam."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Galli, Richard, Rescuing Jeffrey, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2000.
Booklist, April 15, 2000, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Rescuing Jeffrey, p. 1505; January 1, 2006, Alan Moores, review of Of Rice and Men: A Novel of Vietnam, p. 54.
Detroit Free Press, February 8, 2006, Susan Hall-Balduf, review of Of Rice and Men.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2005, review of Of Rice and Men, p. 1204.
Publishers Weekly, May 15, 2000, review of Rescuing Jeffrey, p. 100; October 10, 2005, review of Of Rice and Men, p. 34.
School Library Journal, October, 2000, Carol DeAn-gelo, review of Rescuing Jeffrey, p. 195.
Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (April 12, 2006), Carol Fitzgerald, review of Rescuing Jeffrey.
Boston Globe Online, http://www.boston.com/ (April 12, 2006), John Koch, interview with author.
New York Times Online, http://www.nytimes.com/ (April 12, 2006), Noelle Oxenhandler, "The Client: A Father's Memoir Recounts 10 Days in the Aftermath of his Son's Devastating Accident."
Rescuing Jeffrey Web site, http://www.rescuingjeffrey.com (April 12, 2006).
Richard Galli Home Page, http://www.gallilaw.com (April 12, 2006).
University of Rhode Island, Division of University Advancement Web site, http://advance.uri.edu/ (April 12, 2006), John Pantalone, "A Life Worth Living," interview with author.