Mazilli never lets go. Mazilli is a man who will not compromise or dilute the ultimate goal with the odd trip back to Italy. Just as The Odyssey, all journeys are not about the destination, but about the twists and turns that drive you continuously off course.
If anything makes Mazilli's story a little different, it is this. Of the two worst things in life (never getting what you want, getting what you want), Mazilli discovers the latter.
One of the characters anticipates this, when she approves of the wife's decision to let him go: 'You did right. Italy has always been Gina Lollobrigida for him. But Gina Lollobrigida is only Gina Lollobrigida up there on a screen. She does not exist. Let him get close. He'll see she has wrinkles and sagging boobs.'
At the comic center of Mazilli's Shoes is the tragedy of a man who gets what he wants.
From the Forward for Mazilli's Shoes:
During the research for Mazilli's Shoes, I told a man shooting pool in one of the cafés of Toronto's St. Clair Avenue that I was writing a story of a man who comes to Canada from Italy with the dream of making it rich here, so that he can go home again. The man shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, so what? What could possibly be different about this story he hadn't heard so many times before?
Yes, but while most immigrants lose sight of their dream, or realize en route its futility, Mazilli never lets go. Mazilli is a man who will not compromise or dilute the ultimate goal with the odd trip home to Italy.