Encouraged by the enthusiastic response to his article in Life magazine (May 1991) on growing up with a murderously violent father, Carcaterra, a former New York Daily News reporter, has now expanded the piece to book-length--and, alas, transformed what was a powerful and moving examination of the psychological and physical costs of family abuse into a diffuse and frequently confusing account. Raised in N.Y.C.'s brawling Hell's Kitchen during the 1950's and 60's, Carcaterra was the only son of a ne'er-do-well Italian father and his second wife, a widow the elder Carcaterra met, courted, and married during a trip to the Mediterranean island of Ischia. Back in the States, the author's father proved to be a bully and a blowhard. Under the thumb of his troublemaking mother, physically abusive to his wife, his mind filled with get-rich-quick schemes, he was constantly in debt. It was only Carcaterra's religious mother who, despite beatings and occasional desertions, kept the small family together. At 14, while on holiday in Ischia, Carcaterra was informed by his mother that his father had murdered his first wife and served time in New York's Comstock Correctional Facility. Torn between love for and fear of his father, the boy became obsessed with learning the details of the killing--and obsessed with his own future, fearing that, when it became time to marry and raise a family, he might manifest his father's pathological brutality. But Carcaterra never makes clear here how he was able to resolve his feelings for his father; for all the objective detailing in the narrative, there's scant discussion of the subjective shifts of emotion that would explain the author's journey toward understanding and forgiveness. Carcaterra has a strong story to tell, but he's told it best before.