City Dog: Essays

W. S. Di Piero, Author
W. S. Di Piero, Author Northwestern University Press $17.95 (195p) ISBN 978-0-8101-2516-2
Reviewed on: 03/02/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
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A poet, translator, art reviewer, essayist and Stanford University professor, Di Piero clearly has a studied understanding of creative expression and its analysis, though in this new collection of essays it's applied to a too-wide range of ideas and phenomena. In the most compelling entry, ""Pocketbook and Sauerkraut,"" Di Piero recalls his coming of age in a working classSouth Philadelphia neighborhood and then in the Communist-leaning Italy of the early 1970s, spring-boarding into a discussion of Marxian hypocrisy, Yeats, Keats and Tennyson on the way to a surprisingly coherent breakdown of Di Piero's aesthetic and political beliefs. Unfortunately, Di Piero can get lost in pedantic vagaries (""my symptoms were those of disabling clinical depression, but no etiology can really accommodate the dimesnions of the failure of hope.""), andhis self-conscious tics-reflexively flashing his proletariat credentials (""I was reading my Yeats while working long summer hours loading shipping crates...at a Ford Motor Company depot""); compulsively name-checking as many people, artistic movements and philosophies as possible; and a serious lack of focus-that overwhelm otherwise interesting personal narratives and insightful commentary on literature, art and sociology.
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