Italian stories / Joseph Papaleo.

Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Papaleo, Joseph.
Format: Book
Published: Chicago : Dalkey Archive Press, 2002.
Edition:1st ed.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

"Where are we, then?" is the question posed by Michael Joseph Spinelli, the narrator of one of the loosely connected stories in Papaleo's fourth book. A self-described wanderer in life following a stint during WWII and then college, Spinelli tries to make some sense of his Italian-American heritage: a father whose success in the raincoat business moved the family from the Bronx to Scarsdale, a traditional mother in charge of the cooking and shopping, an older brother who drives a truck for a living. Moving roughly chronologically, the earlier stories are set in a 1940s Bronx neighborhood of Italian immigrants. A number of tales featuring Johnny Mauro as a child and teen are subtly evocative, describing his relationship with parents from the Old World who are making a place for themselves in New York while they contend with friends and relatives who are less able (or willing) to assimilate. After the war, various male characters ponder the daily minutiae of business dealings, travels, marriages and the deaths of parents. While the portrayal of ethnic unease and adjustment is realistic, it becomes difficult to keep track of characters who are similar (many of the men are prone to lengthy business conversations and are crudely breast-obsessed) or make repeat appearances. The prologue issues an amusing warning against expecting stereotypes ("I forgive you your Chef Boyardee, your worship of gangsters you think are my brothers"), which is all to the good, but judicious honing would have sharpened the sprawl of this collection, deepened its quiet homage to Italian-Americans and suggested some answers to Spinelli's big question. (Jan. 29) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved