Publishers Weekly
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In an excellently researched literary exploration of his family and Chicago, the city where their American dream was realized, Bukowski (Big Bill Thompson; Chicago and the Politics of Image; etc.) traces the humble beginnings of a Polish-American clan settling in the city's ethnic South Side, supporting themselves through hard work and enterprise. He uncovers a cache of photographs, documents and relatives' remembrances to fill in the personalities of his parents, grandparents and relatives, close and distant, as they formed the backbone of religiously and politically conservative working-class white families. Bukowski's father, who is the book's centerpiece, is a man of routines, a driven person with a hardy work ethic, spending more than 33 years at the fire department before taking another job for a plating supply company. As his emotional counterpoint, his wife, active and proper, serves as mother for his three children, balancing the demands of home and her workaholic husband. Odd time leaps and confusing breaks in the narrative, when Bukowski examines the quirks and strengths of other colorful characters, may throw off the reader. Yet his impressions of his family and the city are filled with smart and clever observations, often engaging the heart and intellect. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved