The champion of feel-good scores again with this amiable, sentimental paean to his beloved Italian-American pop. Rocco Bartolomeo ("Tulio") Buscaglia was everything one wants a father to be: proud, industrious, strong, generous, loving, honest. No wonder, then, that the years have transformed him in the author's eyes from "Papa, the simple human being" into "Papa, the near saint." The accolade has merit. Tulio was exceptional for his generation—a man who hugged his children, hedged his house with flowers, wasn't afraid to cry. A master gardener, he bestowed on neighbors a nonstop supply of fruits and vegetables. He insisted his kids learn at least one new fact each day. He established a happy, stable middle-class life for his wife and family after landing in America with no money, no English, no prospects. And so on. Buscaglia the Younger piles on the sugared tributes, but something in Buscaglia the Elder's character prevents this from inducing insulin shock. Perhaps it's Papa's guts, or his eccentricities (such as making his own wine in his basement distillery), or his liberality (his best friend was a Jew), or the veiled comments about his temper. Tulio is worthy of celebration, and even Buscaglia's maudlin manner ("Thanks, Papa, I'll always love you") seems apt. Sure to sell and sure to please. Despite the sentiment, Tulio himself makes this much more interesting than any number of books that deal in generalities about fatherhood.
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