BY: Lindsay jamieson
Helene Stapinski is a best-selling author of three memoirs: Five Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History, which has been made into a documentary; Baby Plays Around: A Love Affair with Music; and her latest, Murder in Matera: A True Story of Passion, Family, and Forgiveness in Southern Italy. Her essays have appeared in several anthologies, including Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up. Helene has written extensively for the New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Time magazine, the Washington Post, and dozens of other newspapers and blogs. She’s been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and The Today Show and has performed on the Moth’s main stage.
The Coachella Review recently sat down with Stapinski to discuss her impressive and unusual career trajectory and her obsession with her criminal family—featured first in Five Finger Discount, which revolves around her grandfather’s misdeeds in Jersey City, New Jersey, where Stapinski was raised, then again in Murder in Matera, in which she travels farther back in time to Basilicata, southern Italy, from where her great-great-grandmother immigrated after being involved in a murder.