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Heart of the Old Country (The Narrows) Paperback – June 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Akashic Books (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936070006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936070008
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,189,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in a crummy corner of present-day Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, this sweet, sardonic and by turns hilarious and tragic first novel opens with a no-hoper named Michael going through his motions. These consist of driving his father, Vinny, an ex-sanitation worker turned smalltime bookie, on his appointed rounds; "working" for Big Lou's Car Service, a connected gypsy outfit shuttling senior citizens around the neighborhood; marking time with Gina, "a really decent set of tits"; and drinking and drugging it up with his "friend" Nicky Shades, a junkie on his way down. Big Lou's gangster brother, Tony, vouches for Michael, so he gets away with much in a neighborhood where one's local standing is the only real currency. Michael has recently entered into strange territory by enrolling in night college classes across the river in Manhattan. Having been raised by his widower father never to reveal himself to strangers, he winds up in an awkward position when he finds himself attracted to a college girl named Kathy. Just as he is about to learn something about the outside world, however, Nicky robs Tony's club and is killed, and Michael is sucked into turf battles on his home territory. McLoughlin, a Brooklyn native who works in the Brooklyn court system, powerfully describes the bonds between Michael and his father, whose background is gradually revealed as Michael implicates him further in his own criminal bunglings. The novel's greatest achievement is its tender depiction of Michael as a would-be tough guy, trying to follow his father's dictum of "Give them nothing," while undergoing a painful education in the real world.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"...[R]eads like an inspired cross between Richard Price's Bloodbrothers and Ross McDonald's the Chill..." -- Entertainment Weekly, April 27, 2001

"...[S]weet, sardonic, and by turns hilarious and tragic..." -- Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2001

"A first novel offering stolid suspense from the land of the wiseguys." -- Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2001

"Carefully crafted, with authentic Brooklyn flavor..." -- Kirkus Reviews, 3/15/01

"I was hooked within a few pages--it's compelling stuff...." -- Splendid, 4/21/01

"McLoughlin possesses a fresh new voice, full of literary merit, thriving on gripping dialogue and prose." -- Phillip Tomasso III, author of Tenth House & Mind Play

"Tim McLoughlin is a master storyteller..." -- Kaylie Jones, author of A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Author on May 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
Heart of the Old Country by Tim McLoughlin resonates with the sights and sounds of south-west Brooklyn, the apparent result of Mr. McLoughlin's creative talents and knowledge of his subject. Like many excellent books, Heart of the Old Country can be read on more than one level. I have just finished my second reading and can report that I found it more enjoyable than the first. The book is remisinscent of "Carlito's Way" by Edwin Torres - and just as good. I would not be surprised to see in the near future a film version and a mass paperback edition of this truly remarkable work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
I thought this book was better than the highly praised 'Motherless Brooklyn' by Jonathan Lethem (I make the comparison because they have many similarities -- Brooklyn car service setting, fringe mob characters, coming-of-age subplot, etc.). McLaughlin certainly knows his South Brooklyn setting inside-out. And his writing is a lot less cutesy and gimmicky than Lethem's. My only complaint is that the dramatic payoff to the story -- the climax, if we can call it that -- really isn't very satisfying. By the time it arrives the stakes aren't really very high, all of the tension has already been resolved by then, so the ending falls flat. But I still think the characters are very well observed throughout the book. McLaughlin shows a lot of promise as a writer. I hope he has the staying power to follow this up with even more interesting work (a la Richard Price).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Miglino on June 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am 52 years old and actually grew up on 68th and 12th, right across the street from the school yard where Nicky Shades was Namath everyday (I'm sure he was also a great stick ball player). I found Tim's book to be an accurate portrayal of many of the people from the neighborhood, conversely we did have doctors, lawyers, politicians and successfull business people graduate from 69th street and the schoolyard. I found the book's characters very life like and enjoyed mentions of New Corners and Regina Pacis(can you believe the schools closing). I've read several Jim Leher novels and if you enjoy reading Jim Leher, you will enjoy this book. May be it means more to someone who actually lived there that I enjoyed the book so much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this novel. It has a rocking narrative, a pace that never lets up. The author shows the denizens of old Brooklyn without every worrying about being politically correct or offending anyone. But in the end, the writer's love for the place and its people is overwhelmingly moving. A great summer read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C B on April 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Just finished Tim McLoughlin's Heart of the Old Country and found it full of old friends and enemies. Being a displaced Brooklynite I thoroughly the read. There are characters that you'll love and characters you'll love to hate.I recommend it HIGHLY.
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