Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Friday, 30 April 2010 00:00
Westbury resident Chuck Cutolo has recently published his second book of essays. Entitled Parables…And Other Stuff From Life, the 346-page work features almost 50 essays that explore the hopes and fear and insights and continuing questions, which all stem from Cutolo’s personal experiences.
Cutolo grew up in Albertson and East Williston, graduating from Chaminade High School. He went off to major in government at Hamilton College before attending Columbia Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. For 17 years, Cutolo worked on Capitol Hill, working as a legislative assistant to Congressmen Lester Wolff (D-NY) and Joseph L. Fisher (D-VA) as well as the Democratic Study Group before embarking on a 12-year career as legislative director to Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), the current chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
In 1994, Cutolo returned to New York and worked briefly in the Office of Public Policy for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Two years later he began working as minority counsel to the Democrats on the Nassau County Legislature and, in 2000, after the Democrats won control of the legislature, became majority counsel. He remained with the county until late 2001. Currently, Cutolo is director of governmental affairs for Nassau Community College.
Aside from law and politics, Cutolo said writing was a passion that began for him when he was around 7 or 8 years old. “I said to myself ‘I’m going to write a book,’” he said, adding that he immediately opened one of his Golden Books and began to copy what was in the book onto a blank sheet of paper. “I remember saying to myself ‘this is pretty easy,’” said Cutolo, adding that he soon learned it was not “quite that easy to write a book.”
However, Cutolo stuck to his work and in 1999 published his first book, Notes From the Hidden Years: Reflections on Spirituality, Politics and Other Stuff and, like Parables, it includes nearly 50 essays. He has also written a book on the legislative process entitled Legislating, A Study Guide and Working Manual. Self-published, Parables took about 10 years from start to finish.
“The day job slows things down [but] of course, the day job is also what pays for the book so I really can’t complain,” he said.
For Cutolo, writing Parables was part self-therapy in that it enabled him to try to make sense of things in his life – past and present. “In a sense, when I write, I’m both on the couch and in the analyst’s chair at the same time,” he said. “Writing helps me to think things through, and, in doing that, there’s some angst, but there are also some peaceful resolutions. And the bonus is that I have something in my hands when it’s over. A nice sense of accomplishment.”
Part of the accomplishment, said Cutolo, is creating something others can relate to. “I know that my writing has the power to make people feel better and to make it easier for them to cope with and walk through the existential muck that is all around us … ” he said. “I know I have a gift [and] I believe it is my obligation to do something with it in ways that people can relate to and benefit from as they deal with the good and the bad, and the joys and the sorrows, of their lives.”
Cutolo added, “As Faulkner would put it, the “writer’s duty is to write about these things …”
Copies of Parables can be obtained by writing to Chuck Cutolo, 278 Asbury Avenue, Westbury, NY 11590. The list price is $20 with discounts available.