By W. S. Di Piero
(Northwestern University Press, Paperback, 9780810125162, 195pp.)
Publication Date: March 2009
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When a self-proclaimed "lazy scholar" embarks on a trip through his life's influences--as diverse as girl-group doo-wop, Yeats, and Van Gogh--readers are in for an illuminating ride. This collection of essays from cultural critic Di Piero veers from his early years as the son of immigrants in Philadelphia to his working life in art, film, music, and poetry. Along with a few choice essays reprinted from out-of-print collections, Di Piero's new work shows him to be insightful about himself and his work despite his protestations against the "boosterism" of autobiography. Through the lens of his sharp artistic analysis, readers see his story--an immigrant story filled with the music and mystery of a multilingual family, the men of his neighborhood wearing so many hats as they worked--as the auspicious beginning for his life of observation and revelation. His prose sings along, tripping across slang, poetry, and painters with the same precision that allows him to nearly dance about architecture. Though Di Piero would claim that his life's path "lurches and swerves," his essays prove that he has wandered expansively and with purpose--a city dog trotting across continents, along pages, and through galleries.