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I Don't Want to Go to Jail : A Good Story Hardcover – May, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown and Company; 1st edition (May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316118451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316118453
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,028,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Breslin's literary ties to the mob go back to the days when he was churning out award-winning columns and bestselling novels (The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight), although he falls short of that level of excellence in this rambling, episodic novel about an aging Mafia boss whose nephew opts for a straight life. Fausti "The Fist" Dellacava is a gangster's gangster, an old school tough guy and a tyrant who uses his Mafia power to indulge a variety of whims, such as forbidding anyone on the street to refer to him by name: "Just look up quickly, as if searching a rock ceiling, when you mean The Fist." But his nephew and namesake is cut from a different cloth: when the younger Fausti decides that the threat of jail is a steep price to pay for a mobster's life of leisure, he tries his luck in the real world with decidedly mixed results. The bulk of the novel tracks the Fist's decline and demise in parallel with his nephew's efforts to establish himself beyond the Mob but the book's real raison d'ˆtre is to give the audacious Breslin an opportunity to tell nonstop stories about the Mafia. He's at his best when he goes for laughs, particularly in the material involving Mafia trading cards, a mob priest named Father Phil and a vicious German shepherd named Malocchio, whose choice of victims inadvertently reflects the bigotry of his twisted owners. The lack of narrative structure makes this book a sticky read, but Breslin knows his subject and provides enough entertainment to justify wading through the slow spots. (May 23)Forecast: Ads in major national publications and the Sopranos-fueled Mafia mania should get the book some attention, but it will probably sell mostly to die-hard Breslin fans.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Readers who remember Breslin's first Mafia novel, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1969), will want to check out the New York columnist's fictional take on the Mob's last days. New Yorkers and Mafia mavens will know where Breslin is headed once they discover that his capo--Fausti ("the Fist") Dellacava--spends much of the book dressed in pajamas and robe, gulping Thorazine. The Fist's clubhouse bears the label "Concerned Lutherans." It's in the basement of a Sullivan Street tenement in Greenwich Village. Young Fausti--the Fist's nephew--grows up down the street, watching the extended family his uncle rules. By the time the younger man is old enough to take on a straight job and marry his childhood sweetheart, the name he shares with his uncle gets in his way. He makes a few bucks as the anonymous source of the wise-guy profiles on Mob Stars trading cards, but it's obvious that an era is drawing to a close. The feds are getting too good at sending bosses off to jail, and the yuppies are taking over the neighborhood. No one would call Breslin a master plotter; his structure is anecdotal, and his tone is conversational. Perhaps his latest novel is best viewed as a comic requiem for yet another industry that can't keep up on the information superhighway. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

In this book, it seems like Breslin struggles in creating historic fiction.
Hey Lobo
He is supposedly a humorist, but uses some pretty crude language and that I don't care much for.
Betty Burks
I know there are kernals of information, truth behind the fiction that I would not have known.
Arthur Monahan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on June 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As noted on the cover of, "I Don't Want To Go To Jail", this is indeed, "A Good Novel". If the first third of the book and its humor were maintained throughout the novel, the book would have been great. The work certainly is as unique as its Author Mr. Breslin, so if at times it became a bit slow, there still was no temptation to put it down.
From the cover with its visual parodies of, "friends of ours", to the quote at the book's beginning from Mr. Sal Meli, who appears to have been the government's guest at many of their facilities, and finally with the endorsements on the back, its not totally unreasonable to suggest this is closer to historical fiction than a pure novel. Many of the characters in the book are or were true-life figures. Mr. Breslin must have either had this approved by, "The Concerned Lutherans", or perhaps is contemplating retirement in some Southwestern State living and writing under a new name. The other possibility is the subjects of this book have a sense of humor and enjoy being in Mr. Breslin's book as much as appearing on their very own trading card.
As the decline of, "The Fist", is chronicled along with the demise of the power of the traditional crime families, the story slows a bit as well. It may be that for those who are fans of, "The Godfather", and of the romanticized version that Hollywood has delivered, reading of the slide of The Boss from the top player to a broken shell that eats Thorazine like M&M'S is akin to watching the mighty Casey strike out.
The influence of organized crime may wax and wane, however it is firmly embedded in our culture and literature. There are many who have chronicled the Families with a wide range of intent. For fun and authenticity Mr. Jimmy Breslin has no peer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Very loosely based on the true story of a Mafia boss who was known to wander around his Greenwich Village neighborhood in a bathrobe while mumbling to himself, Jimmy Breslin, a well-known New York City columnist has created a sometimes funny comic novel about the Mafia. It is supposedly set right here in my own neighborhood, but he made enough changes in the landscape to make sure this is considered a work of fiction. The darkened storefront "social clubs" where men sat around bridge tables, drinking coffee are gone now, replaced by trendy shops and restaurants, but Mr. Breslin writes of an era when a gangster he calls "The Fist" held the City in an iron grip.
The book is an easy read, its 300 pages a jumble of episodic anecdotes centered around the nephew of the feared boss whose famous last name creates complications for him because he wants to simply go straight and marry his childhood sweetheart. Mr. Breslin exaggerates and pokes fun at the gangster world, and the total obedience given to The Fist, his men even going so far as to take a second wife and raise a second family because that was the way The Fist lived. There are also some very funny stories about a dog as well as some chuckles about bubble gum trading cards with pictures of mob characters on them. It's the very small grain of truth to that weaves its way into the writing that is the heart of the humor however. I especially like the part about the nephew getting a job at the Javits Convention Center, making big bucks as a member of the corrupt carpenter's union.
The book is lighthearted froth that shouldn't be taken too seriously. This is apparent from the cover art and the blurbs on the back. The characters are stereotypes and there's no attempt to make it anything more. Therefore, just accept it for what it is. And enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I Don't Want To Go To Jail

The author of "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" is back with another novel depicting the lighter side of the mob. Only Breslin would have enough guts to place the head of the mafia social order in Greenwich Village. The book is witty, amusing, and downright funny.

The book is about two characters, one being the head of the mob, named Fausti "The Fist" Dellicava and his nephew who is named after him, Fausti Dellicava. Both of theses guys do not want to end up in jail. But The Fists past might prohibit them from being free men. The story about The Fist is that he is being charged for certain "crimes". He finds various ways to get out of his convictions. His nephew Fausti is trying to live a straight life away from his name and the mob. But sense his name is the same as the infamous crime lord, its kind of hard.

I would recommend this book to any one who would like a little crude and witty humor in their life. I would not recommend this book to people with a low reading level because it was a little hard to follow at times.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Drummond Berman on July 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
admittedly, i'm not the world's most patient reader. but by the time i'd completed the first third of this book, all 26 chapters of it, i just couldn't continue. firstly there was not one thread of continuity between any of the chapters. they were seemingly random selections from time and place - whatever happened to occur to the author to write next, i assume. secondly, the quality of the writing is noweher near what i would call sufficient to be publishable. breslin has clearly never bothered to go back and read over what he's written. the narrator of this book talks like a half-wit. thirdly, and this is perhaps why i found this book such hard going, breslin is a confusing storyteller. in one chapter he refers to the main character in question simply as 'he' until about five pages in. when you realize who he's talking about you have to go back and start the chapter over to put everything you just read back in context. and having to read things ten times because of awkward wording was becoming a bit of a theme by the time i gave up. initially i charitably thought that some of these idiosyncracies might just be down to jimmy breslin's personal style of writing. i soon came to the conclusion, however, that they were more a function of his ineptitude.
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