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Papa, My Father

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

It is readily apparent to even the most casual reader that in the case of Leo F. Buscaglia, the acorn did not grow too far from the tree. In this latest missive from the proponent of the dynamics of human love, the life and times of his beloved father are presented in such a manner as to reveal the seminal influence of the elder Buscaglia upon the younger.

Rocco Bartolomeo Buscaglia was the most ordinary and yet extraordinary of men. He was anything but a captain of industry, a figure of world renown, or a celebrity whose appearance on television talk shows ensures a large and devoted audience. A humble immigrant who worked hard throughout his life and normally kept his family in shoes and bread, the elder Buscaglia was more than nominally successful as a husband and father. He taught, by example, powerful and time-tested lessons about life, beauty, responsibility, self-respect, and love--lessons which are as applicable to the urban megapolis of contemporary America as they were to his native Italian village.

PAPA, MY FATHER appears designed to serve two purposes. On the one hand, this recital of Leo Buscaglia’s memories is intended to evoke memories of the reader’s own father. At the same time, in celebrating the values associated with the nuclear family of days gone by, the author may be inviting the flattery of imitation. It is clear, too, that Buscaglia hopes to counter the popular image of the American father as a genial boob who is incapable of pouring water from a boot even if the instructions are written upon the heel. It is to be wondered if the lessons of the elder Buscaglia will be seen as relevant by the modern two-income family with 1.2 children. Still, the younger Buscaglia has provided his own future biographer, if there is to be one, with a valuable account of those influences which molded his own character.