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Roddyboy Paperback – Large Print, March 14, 2011
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Which brings to mind a man named Berhard Goetz. In 1984 Goetz, who had been badly mauled in a mugging a few years earlier, was accosted by a group of young men on the #2 express and retaliated by shooting four of them. The incident made a media splash and underlined the astonishing crime rate in New York City which was 70% higher than in the rest of the country. Brought to trial on five charges, the jury found Goetz guilty of only one: illegal possession of a fire arm. At one point in Roddyboy, our hero mulls over his own numbers (victim of one mugging and one store robbery on Staten Island compared with one store robbery in Manhattan) and decides he is, statistically speaking, safer in Manhattan--"but not by much".
Roddyboy is uneven and the dialogue often stilted, but who has time to quibble while trying to keep up with this would-be vigilante, aspiring screen writer, defender of Genesis, ELP and U2 against metal and punk, and possibly the most likeable foul-mouthed eighteen year old on Planet Earth as he ricochets around crack rattled, crime riddled New York in the 1980s. Christopher Harnedy has given us a memorable portrait of a boy and a city at a time we would probably all like to forget.