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HUMANITIES 305 Tuzi opens his book with a shortsociological history of Italian immigration to Canada, noting the accompanying shifts in family structure. Yet, he strenuously rejects the simplistic sociological interpretation of ethnic fiction, which would view Italian-Canadian writing as the presentation of the problems of immigrants. That approach, he insists, overlooks the subtleties and complexities of presentation, privileging content over form. Likewise, though Tuzi argues that the six texts are 'imaginative expression of Italianness in Canada,' he tries to avoid the concept of a fixed Italian identity. He resists cliches, stereotypes, and essentialism, yet notes that an essentialist ethnicity can be a means of resistance. In analysing the texts, he stresses the contradictions and complexities, repeating that there is no fixed set of signs and no single meaning. He takes his position from that of Francesco Loriggio: 'Ethnic literature rustoricizes the aesthetic, and it is the historicizing, the reimmerging [sic] of the literary back into the historical which is its aesthetic gesture.' Tuzi's book will be of value to anyone concerned with the theoretical issues of minority writing. However, it would have been more effective if it had sOW1ded less like a thesis, with its myriad of supporting quotations. Likewise the 'Theoretical Afterword,' where Tuzi lays out the theoretical basis for his inquiry, would have been better placed at the beginning rather than the end. Tuzi gives no overviews or summaries of the fictional text, which, if you do not know the books well, makes them blend into each other. Likewise, since he analyses them to show their counternarrativity, 'their endless uncertainties and ambiguities,' to some degree they all sound the same. He communicates the differences in complexity between the six texts but not the differences in texture or in quality. Still, he reads the texts perceptively and argues his stance convincingly. He demonstrates that Italian-Canadian fiction does not begin or end with The Lives of the Saints drawing attention to some little-known works. For just as critical theory helped bring legitimacy to the area of ethnic fiction, Tuzi's The Power of Allegiances helps to valorize Italian-Canadianfiction. (CATERINA EDWARDS) Antonio DJ Alfonso and Pasquale Verdicchio. Duologue: On Culture and Identity Guernica. 120. $12.00 Throughout history, real and fictihous pairs ofindividuals haveleft a mark: Romulus and Remus, Persephone and Demeter, Dante and Virgil, and Thelma and Louise, to name a few. Now, on culture and identity in Canada especially, we have Antonio D'Alfonso and Pasquale Verdicchio - or, taking our cue from the book's cover, Gilligan and the Skipper! A comical comparison? Perhaps. But not necessarily off base; the cover clamours loudly for such a semiotic recall, as it presents two individuals - one younger, beatnik-like; the other older with a captain's hat - at the ocean's 306 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 shore. Indeed, one message that comes through most clearly is that these 'Italic' editors and writers feel most marginalized, isolated on a sort of cuItural island not yet charted on mainstream's grand maps of the cultural seas. This often acute conversation is divided into sixsections: 'ItalicCulture,' 'Cultureand Linguistic Legacy,' 'CulturalSuicide and Cultural Generation,' 'The Association of Italian Canadian Writers/ 'Preserving Culture,' and 'The Writer/Publisher Business.' Indeed, once we read through Duologue a serious question arises: Who is (are) the intended audience(s)? To be sure, there may be a few: (1) intellectuals working in the realms of ethnicity, postculturalism, and identity politics; (2) power brokers who (a) have their hands on purse strings and (b) have access to intellectual venues; and (3) writers, new and veteran, especially those who have not published with Guernica. It is this third item that seems to subtend a good deal of the conversation. For we find Guernica early on as D'Alfonso moans that his 'books are no longerinbookstores,' thatheis'discouraged.' What we never really come to know, however, is why his books may not be in bookstores any longer. The only follow-up is that 'Something lather than"distribution and cultural trends"] is going on'; but we are never really told what it is, unless we fast-forward and read the following: 'The most boring reproduction ofsimple linear narratives. You notice...


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pp. 305-307
Launched on MUSE
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