In this somewhat overstuffed collection of 47 poems, Richard Hugo delivers up an extended visit to Italy, particularly the South and Naples. The style of the poems is a sort of shorthand meditation, full of aphoristic flourishes, relieved by flashes of description and lyrical address. Beyond that, the poems are uneven, monotonous, strangely compulsive, rather bitter and possessed, of a certain-power. For Hugo whatever else he is, comes across as distinctly ""the American tourist""--instinctively suspicious of the populace, fearful of being cheated, obsessed with ""history"" and keeping a keen eye mainly for traces of World War II, when he served in Italy as a bomber pilot (one of the things he has in common with James Dickey). However, some of his qualities, like his fondness for the terms ""wops"" and ""krauts,"" are unlikely to endear him to much of anybody. What nearly saves the book from itself, redeeming even the tiresome multitude of its stabs at profundity, is Hugo's emotional candor,--his brand of last-ditch honesty. The author of these poems appears as a man of injured spirit, an American casualty, not of war but of peace, sure of little except his rage to live, often irascible and muddled but free of self-pity--a sort of dogged, halfway hero.