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Narrows Gate Paperback – November 15, 2011
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“The expansive novels that Jim Fusilli’s readers have been waiting for – a broad canvas full of vivid characters, hard choices and steeped in the post-war experience. Fusilli’s take of the men who run the mob and those who can’t escape its pull –including a familiar and iconic crooner – is, at its heart, a uniquely American tale of ambition and failure, of people who underplay their hands and those who overstep their bounds…. A dazzling novel by a great writer at the height of his powers.” --David Liss
“A big, broad-shouldered novel, equal parts Ellroy, Puzo and Scorsese..." --George Pelecanos
“As tender as it is tough…. A big-hearted story in which love and violence conspire to control the lives of people who very quickly become real….Jim Fusilli writes with urgency and grace, and his is a compelling, gritty, and brilliant voice. I loved it!” --Lisa Scottoline
About the Author
More About the Author
Fusilli's debut novel, the mystery "Closing Time," is the last work of fiction set in New York City published prior to the 9/11 attacks. The following year, Fusilli's mystery "A Well-Known Secret" addressed the impact of 9/11 on the residents of New York City. Two novels for adults followed: "Tribeca Blues" and "Hard, Hard City," which Mystery Ink magazine named its 2004 Novel of the Year.
In 2005, Fusilli wrote "Pet Sounds," his tribute to Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys' classic album. Described as "an experiment in music journalism," the book combines the rhythm and emotional weight of his fiction with the often-unorthodox observations of his music criticism for the Journal, for whom he has written since 1983.
Fusilli served as the editor of, and contributed chapters to, the award-winning serial thrillers "The Chopin Manuscript" and "The Copper Bracelet." His novel for young adults "Marley Z and the Bloodstained Violin" was published in 2008.
Fusilli has written and published many short stories; in several, he developed Narrows Gate as the setting, depicting the city in different eras. "Chellini's Solution," which appeared in the 2007 edition of the Best American Mystery Stories, features Narrows Gate in the years following World War II. "Digby, Attorney at Law" portrays the fictional city in the early 1960s. "Digby" was nominated for the Edgar and Macavity awards in 2010.
Fusilli is married to the former Diane Holuk, a senior public relations executive. They have a daughter, Cara, a graduate of the New School.
Top Customer Reviews
Sal Benno's family owned a small grocery store, and his father was routinely humiliated, roughed up, and shaken down by a brutal Irish cop who represents the incursion of non-Sicilian ethnic groups into the neighborhood. (Anyone who thinks this an unlikely set of circumstances, read The Savage City by T.J. English.) Even as a pre-adolescent, Sal was becoming a genial, street-smart kid with a well-developed sense of right and wrong. When he was only eight, he took his father's pistol and lay in wait for the Irish cop, backing off at the last second, but just barely, and at the frantic urging of his father, Vito.
Leo Bell was born a Polish Jew whose father invented a story that his family was from Ypres, Italy. Their surname didn't sound Italian, but that's just the way it was. Though Leo was a brainy kid, the all-important distinction between Italy and Sicily was lost on him. Shy and much less street-wise than his best friend Sal Benno, Leo was at the top of his class throughout his years in school.Read more ›
Polish Jew Leo Bell's father Abramo insists his family is from Ypres, Italy. Leo is brilliant yet a dope as he does not comprehend there is Italy and there is Sicily no matter how many times his best friend Sal tried to educate him. They remain close buddies even as adults but Leo conceals his heritage from Sal for years,
William Rosiglino is a misanthrope picked on by his peers. He has no friends though he awkwardly tries with Leo and Sal. His martinet mom Hennie knows his voice is her road to affluence and out of the neighborhood. She pushes him until he becomes a famous crooner as Bill "Bebe" Marsala, but psychologically he remains a cripple.
Through these three characters, readers obtain a taste of life in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the 1930s and 1940s. Using real life persona like senators, singers, and mobsters, Jim Fusilli provides a terrific timely epic that deeply looks into the first and second generation immigrant experience only in America.
Jim Fusilli's Big Mob Opera is a straight-shooting affair that fits squarely within the genre, eschewing experimentation or roaming outside the lines.
"Narrows Gate," starts in New Jersey, across the Hudson River from the main stem, the Big Apple, but travels to London, Madrid, Hollywood, Havana, East Africa, and points in between.
Across this vast panorama Fusilli details the lives of three young male locals, one whose life reads a little bit too much like Frank Sinatra's. Another is headed for trouble in the rackets and the third doing his best to stay out of their way (the rackets) only to find them blocking the escape route.
There are family rivalries, gruesome hits ("Gigenti's first shot took off Verkerk's jaw."), turncoats and torture, and a wide-array of food descriptions. highwayscribery's favorite presentation was the red clam sauce.
Anyway, the narrative is rendered in the street argot certain mid-20th century metropolitan area Italian-Americans spoke and gives the book a flavor.
The texture is mostly gritty. "Narrows Gate" has nostalgia for a lost world of Italian-American life, yet it is unadorned, has no linguistic poetry, its words rolling out like row houses in Brooklyn, steady and even.
It has a love of place, but a grim one.
Fusilli is a writer of note and success with books under his belt, and the work here is professional and polished. He'll have you rooting for murderers and street punks. You'll find the feds and other people swimming against the tide of impunity dispassionate, bland, rainy day people.
You'll find a brutal cityscape where might is right, where the good play it meek and do a lot of ducking, while a crazy few head straight for the knife fight. You may have seen the movie, but that doesn't mean you don't want to see it again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Book binding is defective. Pages falling out as I read. Excellent story though. Just not happy about the condition.Published 7 months ago by Patricia Miskel
A great read for those who enjoy "mob" stories. I found it very interesting to read about the start of mobs and how intricately they were woven into the local businesses, the law... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Kindle Customer Pookie
Slow starting but worth the effort. Good twist on the mafia rules storyPublished 11 months ago by Kathy Hardesty
Enjoyed the story but had some difficulty remembering all the names and who was who in the beginning. As the story went on, not so much of an issue. Very good and enjoyable read.Published 13 months ago by Rats56
The plot is lifted from "The Godfather" and just about every other novel dealing with the mob. The characters are weak, under developed caricatures of other characters in other... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Suzanne G