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Piano, Piano: Stories From My Father
thesisposted on 21.07.2015, 00:00 by Roxanne L. Pilat
Piano, Piano: Stories From My Father, by Roxanne Christofano Pilat, is a work of creative nonfiction, a life narrative, which as the title suggests, centers on a selection of stories passed on from a father to his daughter. The collection of remembrances of this Chicago-born son of Italian immigrants offers a lens to examine the pivotal position of the second-generation children of immigrants, as the arbitrators of assimilation for their parents and themselves. His adaptation, to a new world that honors hard work as the gateway to success, is a reflection of the costs and rewards of those who seek to achieve their own American Dreams. The text is shaped as a paramemoir, which goes beyond the form of strict memoir, as the daughter’s own memories and perspective come into play alongside the retelling of her father’s stories. Reflecting a series of narrative “patches,” the storytelling is layered, a hybrid pastiche of essays and moments of first-person recall, imagined or real dialog, poetry, recipes, and sidebars of some of the events and places that were once part of life in Chicago. Beyond the text, the visual rhetoric of photographs, maps, and ephemera, add to what becomes a patchwork of memories and historical asides. As a life narrative, the textual mirroring of experience between father and daughter, not only preserves the self-selected moments of his life, but shapes them for future remembrance. As an act of witness, an individual’s reconstructed memories combine with others in a family or community, and evolve into narrative legacies for later generations.