- Mass Market Paperback
- Publisher: Penguin Books 1983 (1983)
- ASIN: B004VT41W4
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,536,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Billy Phelan's Greatest Game (An Albany Novel) Mass Market Paperback – 1983
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Mass Market Paperback
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Top Customer Reviews
Billy's world of gamblers, drinkers, sharks, corrupt Albany lackies, and broken families is dark and smoky but never despairing or hopeless. And Billy's moral calculus is a bright spot in this otherwise bleak setting. For my money, "Billy Phelan's Greatest Game" is the best of three in the Albany cycle. I found "Legs" to be slow-going and lacking focus. "Ironweed" is a sensational book, a close second to this novel, but its plot of two drinkers going from job to job, joint to joint, drink to drink does begin to wear down. "Billy Phelan's Greatest Game" has a good deal of plot tension, moral conflicts, humor, and a wider array of characters. I'm in the minority here, and that's fine, but in my analysis it's
WIN: (by a nose)"Billy Phelan's Greatest Game"
The first of the cycle, "Legs", focused more on a celebrated bootlegger and gangster from the Twenties, Jack "Legs" Diamond, than it did on Albany. BILLY PHELAN'S GREATEST GAME, though, truly is about Albany. The present action in the novel all takes place within a few days in October 1938, and it revolves around the kidnapping for ransom of the son of one of the three McCall brothers ("Albany's own Trinity"), who control both the Democratic Party and the rackets, bars, and night life in the city. The ripples from the kidnapping quickly engulf the two principal characters of the novel - Billy Phelan (hustler and player par excellence) and Martin Daugherty (leading journalist for the Albany newspaper). Throughout the novel, both Billy and Martin, in their own ways, wrestle with the question: "Was it possible to escape the stereotypes and be proud of being an Albany Irishman?"
The portrayal of Irish-Catholic Albany is superb. Similarly excellent is the exploration of the tensions, ambiguities, and ironies of the relations between religions, race and ethnicities, and economic classes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For a good reason. I cannot root against an honorable man, even if, especially if, he is playing around the fringes of right and wrong. Billy Phelan is an honorable man. Read morePublished on March 31, 2013 by John T. Sostak
Kennedy's Albany cycle includes a treasure of books on politics and crime in New York's capital city, circa the Depression era. Read morePublished on September 9, 2012 by RSRS
This is the second of the Kennedy books I have read. I liked 'Ironweed' much better. True, this one has a great opening scene in which there is a head- on- head bowling match... Read morePublished on July 29, 2007 by Shalom Freedman