Insubstantial but charming, William Kennedy's Roscoe seems to unintentionally resemble many of the politicians it depicts. The seventh novel in Kennedy's Albany series, Roscoe follows Roscoe Conway, a quick-witted, charismatic lawyer-politician who has devoted much of his life to helping his Democratic Party cohorts achieve and maintain political power in 1930s and 40s Albany, New York. It's 1945, and Roscoe has decided to retire from politics, but a series of deaths and scandals forces him to stay and confront his past. Kennedy takes the reader on an intricate, whirlwind tour of (mostly) fictional Albany in the first half of the 20th century. He presents a mythologized, tabloid version of history, leaving no stone unturned: a multitude of gangsters, bookies, thieves, and hookers mingle with politicians, cops, and lawyers. In the middle of it all is Roscoe, the kind of behind-the-scenes, wisecracking, truth-bending man of the people who makes everything happen--or at least it's fun to think so. Kennedy shows an obvious affection for his book's colorful characters and historic Albany, and he describes both with loving specificity. Though the book often works as light comedy, its clichéd plot developments and stereotypical characters undermine its serious concerns with truth, history, and honor. "You've never met a politician like Roscoe Conway," promises the book's jacket blurb. But we have, through his different roles in countless films and TV series. As with its notoriously deceitful hero, Roscoe is likeable as long as you don't take it too seriously. --Ross Doll --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Roscoe Owens Conway presided at Albany Democratic Party headquarters, on the eleventh floor of the State Bank building, the main stop for Democrats on the way to heaven." Thus begins Kennedy's first novel in five years, the seventh installment in his Albany cycle, which includes the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ironweed. He continues to display the insider's confident mastery of fact, the sharp-edged irony that contrasts appearance and reality and the vision of the outcomes to which his characters are fated. Roscoe is fixer for Albany, N.Y., and on V-J Day, 1945, the Democratic machine is under threat. The external enemy is New York's Republican governor, gathering evidence of the widespread corruption gambling, prostitution, violence that hallmarks Democratic leader Patsy McCall's rule. The mysterious suicide of Elisha Fitzgibbon, the machine's moneyman, sets the events in motion. Internally, the machine is strife ridden: Roscoe must patch up the hostility between McCall and his brother over a cockfight; he must deal with the conflict between police lieutenant and McCall gunsel Jeremiah "Mac" McEvoy and Roscoe's brother, O.B., the chief of police; and he must secure the mayoral re-election of Alex, Elisha's son. Meanwhile, Roscoe seems near a lifelong goal: marrying Veronica, Elisha's widow. As in all of Kennedy's Albany novels, the town is rendered with a hallucinatory, three-dimensional density. The seams of the past from politics to business to crime are split open, but Roscoe's job is to keep Albany's secret history secret. A good man at heart, he is corrupted by his means (blackmail, lies and faked testimony) until his dearest goals are thwarted. This is an engrossing, comic vision of the dark side of politics as the "art of the possible." Readers who were disappointed by the thinness of The Flaming Corsage, the Albany novel that preceded this one, will rejoice at the arrival of the full-blooded Roscoe. 10-city author tour.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Editorial Reviews
Having focused on perpetual outcasts in earlier Albany novels, William Kennedy in his 2002 novel "Roscoe" introduces us to a powerful figure in the city establishment. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Slokes
I haven't read his other books. It seemed not exactly finished in some places. Like it was still an outline.Published on March 9, 2013 by fy colorado
This is the definitive novelistic exploration of the often-denigrated (more-often ignored) urban Irish political machine. Read morePublished on June 27, 2012 by paquinn47
"That year an ill wind blew over the city and threatened to destroy flowerpots, family fortunes, reputations, true love, and several types of virtue. Read morePublished on September 22, 2011 by R. M. Peterson
As well as Kennedy is supposed to know Albany he seems afraid to name names, surely there must be statute of limitations on that, who says you cannot refer to historical names like... Read morePublished on May 18, 2011 by J. Stiles
Recently, in reviewing an early William Kennedy Albany-cycle novel, "Ironweed" I mentioned that he was my kind of writer. I will let what I stated there stand on that score here. Read morePublished on January 21, 2010 by Alfred Johnson
Roscoe is one more masterpiece by a master ... a book hard to put down and one you'll wish doesn't end. Read morePublished on January 8, 2008 by Charlie Stella
I bought this book simply because I had read "Ironweed" and I loved it. Besides, I knew that "Ironweed" was widely considered to be William Kennedy's best novel by critics and... Read morePublished on October 15, 2005 by G. Shkodra
Essentially a "character" study of politics in Albany, New York, this fascinating novel focuses on postwar politics in 1945, flashes back to 1921, when the Democrats seized... Read morePublished on September 24, 2005 by Mary Whipple