As a teacher, I specialize in classical rhetoric and professional writing. As a writer, I chronicle a fading world—a notary public recording depositions from immigrant ghosts. My work forms an open coroner's inquest in which an entire community examines the overwhelming evidence of its own demise and asks if it was murder, suicide, or accidental death. This ghastly business is relieved only by the participants' sardonic humor. Culturecide does that, turns ordinary people into self-mocking skeletons. Each time I press a keyboard, I hear the rattle of bones.
Guilt and grief haunt me. When I worked in advertising in the early eighties, I learned how capitalism transubstantiates bits and pieces of my heritage into bumper stickers, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and fast food. Such commodification parodies the Eucharist and borders on cannibalism. One campaign for Hormel Heartland Hard Salami, in fact, used Lewis Hine's classic photos of Ellis Island to package immigrants as cold cuts. The free market may serve the American Dream but it also consumes its consumers.
This Thyestean banquet resembles the cuccagnas of my great-great grandmother's time, those horrible spectacles of greed and hysteria that the Bourbon aristocracy of Naples and Palermo staged for their own amusement. A gigantic bonfire of choice meats, fine desserts, and other delicacies would be assembled in the cathedral square. At a prearranged signal, starving peasants would clamber on this stockpile and try stealing whatever they could, while hooded figures set the heap on fire. Those who escaped being burned could keep whatever they had snatched.
Bigotry and betrayal have made me a satirist in the classical mode. I tend to write about and lecture on American business with the same irony Tacitus reserved for the Caesers. Even the emperor Heliogabulus, who encased his victims in a bronze cow before roasting them alive, was less crass than McDonald's founder Ray Kroc. America, paisan: billions and billions served. Save a burger for Trimalchio.
- Professional and Technical Writing (PTW)
- Classical Rhetoric: Argument and Satire
- Academic Writing: Business and Science
- Composition Theory: Ethnic Semiotics
- Ph.D. American Literature, Syracuse University, 1990
- M.A. English, Villanova University, 1986
- B.S. Telecommunications, Syracuse University, 1982
- Trinàcria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily. (Guernica Editions, November 2013)
- After the Fair is Over. (Under consideration at State University of New York Press)
- "Quality is Your Right." Finalist in The Normal School 2010 Fiction Contest.
- "The White City." Forthcoming in The Baffler 20.
- "Te Deum." Voices in Italian Americana 19.1 (Fall 2008)
- "Eternal Death." Feile-Festa 3 (Spring 2008)
- "Risorgimento." Syracuse Scholar (Fall 1988)
- "Election Eve." Syracuse Poems and Stories (Winter 1987)
- "Buon Natale." Il Caffe: An International Journal of Italian Culture (December 1986)
- "All Souls' Day." Il Caffe (November 1985)
- Dead Reckoning: Transatlantic Passages on Europe and America, co-authored with Andrei Guruianu (SUNY Press, 2016)
- Bitter Greens: Essays on Food, Politics, and Ethnicity from the Imperial Kitchen. (SUNY Press, 2010)
- "Autumn in Rome: A Triptych" in From the Finger Lakes: A Prose Anthology, edited by Rhian Ellis (Cayuga Lake Books, 2015)
- "Bitter Greens." Alimentum: The Literature of Food 9. (Summer 2010)
- "Top of the World." Essays & Fictions 5 (Fall 2009)
- "Dark Chocolate." Voices in Italian Americana 19.2 (Spring 2009)
- "Lunch with Trimalchio." The Normal School: A Literary Magazine (Fall 2008)
- "Lucullan Feasts." River Styx 76: A Readable Feast (Spring 2008)
- "Aperitif." Alimentum: The Literature of Food 5 (Winter 2008)
- "Allegro con Brio." River Styx 73: The Last Laugh (Winter 2006)
- "A Load of Tripe." Voices in Italian Americana 15.2 (Spring 2006)
- "Tears and Onions." River Styx 60 (Fall 2000)
- "The Apotheosis of Brumidi." River Styx 58 (Winter 1999) Cited in Best American Essays 2000.
- "Eddie, Kiss Me Goodnight." River Styx 55 (Winter 1998)
- "Coffeehouse Philosophy." River Styx 53 (Spring 1998) Nominated for 1999 Pushcart Prize and for Best American Essays 1999.
- "Exiles from Cockaigne." River Styx 49 (Summer 1997) Nominated for 1998 Pushcart Prize.
- "Le Pasquinate:Comments on the Eternal City, Past and Present, from Rome's Talking Statue" monthly in L'Italo Americano (July 2014 to present)
- "Joined at the Spine." ICView 1 (May 2010)
- "Surveying Our Campus." The Ithacan (August 30, 2007)
- "Let's Get It Write." ICView 1 (May 2007)
- "God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut." The Ithacan (April 19, 2007)
- Design Discourse: Composing and Revising the Professional and Technical Writing Program. Co-edited with David Franke and Alex Reid. 2nd ed. (Parlor Press/ WAC Clearinghouse, 2010)
- If I Were Boss: The Early Business Stories of Sinclair Lewis. (Southern Illinois University Press, 1997)
- American Gargoyles: Flannery O'Connor and the Medieval Grotesque. (Southern Illinois University Press, 1993)
- "The Advancement of Professional Learning: "Professional and Technical Writing and the Liberal Arts in the New Knowledge Society." Composing and Revising the Professional and Technical Writing Program. (Parlor Press/ WAC Clearinghouse, 2007)
- "The Great Instauration: Restoring Professional and Technical Writing to the Humanities." The Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 32.2 (Fall 2002)
- "Sinclair Lewis." Encyclopedia of American Business History (NY: Facts on File, 2001)
- "His Master's Voice: Tiro and the Rise of the Roman Secretarial Class." JTWC, 30.2 (Fall 2000)
- "Golems, Scribes, and Tzaddiks: Franz Kafka's Parabolic Paperwork." A Kafka Kaleidoscope. Ed. Martin Wasserman. (Birch Book Press, 1999)
- "The Complete English Tradesman: Daniel Defoe and the Emergence of Business Writing." JTWC, 28 (Winter 1998)
- "Sortilegio: Cola Rienzi and the Blasphemy of Documentation." JTWC, 27.3 (Fall 1997)
- "America, Inc.: John Dos Passos' USA Trilogy as Professional Writing Textbook." Educational Resource Information Center (June 1996)
- “Professional Writing Comes of Age: A Review of Writing About Business and Industry and Professional Writing in Context” in JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory 15:1 (Winter 1995)