Nine intricately configured stories—many about fathers and daughters on the Italian south side of Pittsburgh in the 1960's—by 1993 Iowa Short Fiction Award co-winner Manfredi (see Williford, below). The most powerful relationships here often verge perilously close to incestuous. In ``The Projectionist,'' the narrator's father, a movie projectionist who lost his first wife and daughter in Italy during the war, loses his mind when the narrator starts to date a hippie boy named Carlo. In ``Bocci,'' the antic ten-year-old Ellen is raped by a friend of her father's, also named Carlo, in the men's room of the clubhouse belonging to the Italian Sons and Daughters of America, while her mother and much-beloved father dance upstairs. ``Truants,'' in which a 17-year-old daughter and her father play hookey together for a week, ends with the father begging the pardon of the mother and returning to work while the girl is told she won't graduate from high school. In ``Tall Pittsburgh,'' a girl wins a beauty contest at the behest of her bedazzled widowed father, who's pleased she's finally equalled her dead mother in beauty. Other stories treat love relationships that fail, seemingly because they don't duplicate the passionate involvement of the characters' birth family. Daring and interesting, but also long and overly detailed, without a crowning message.
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