John Merrick reviews Alberto Prunetti’s new memoir (of sorts), Down and Out in England and Italy:

“Prunetti is no genteel returnee, instead acting as our Virgil leading us, the latter-day Dantes, deep into the recesses of the capitalist inferno. His leaving and returning is not from the solidity of middle-class life to the working-class of old, but rather from one form of manual labor to another. We follow him from the stable, unionized, masculine labor of his father’s generation in the steel mills of that crucible of the Italian workers’ movement, Livorno, into the new world of dreadful temp jobs, deep into the abyss of long hours and poor pay, followed by heavy drinking and a fight on the weekend. The working-class hero, our Virgil tells us, is no longer the celebrated blue-collar worker on the picket line but the tabarded underclass cleaning p*ss and sh*t from the floors of the nation’s toilets or serving up reheated slop to dead-eyed consumers in suburban shopping malls.”