West of Romes two novellas, My Dog Stupid and The Orgy, fulfill the promise of their rousing titles. The latter novella opens with virtuoso description: His name was Frank Gagliano, and he did not believe in God. He was that most singular and startling craftsman of the building trade-a left-handed bricklayer.
Like my father, Frank came from Torcella Peligna, a cliff-hugging town in the Abruzzi. Lean as a spider, he wore a leather cap and puttees the year around, and he was so bowlegged a dog could lope between his knees without touching them.