Love. Violence. Destiny. These powerful themes ricochet through Lorenzo Carcaterra’s new novel like bullets from a machine gun. In Gangster, he surpasses even his bestselling Sleepers to create a brutal and brilliant American saga of murder, forgiveness, and redemption.
Born in the midst of tragedy and violence and raised in the shadow of a shocking secret, young Angelo Vestieri chooses to flee both his past and his father to seek a second family—the criminals who preside over early 20th century New York. In his bloody rise from soldier to mob boss, he encounters ever more barbaric betrayals—in friendship, in his brutal business, in love—yet simultaneously comes to understand the meaning of loyalty, the virtue of relationships, and gains a perspective on the lonely, if powerful, life he has chosen.
As the years pass, as enemies are made and defeated, as wars are fought and won, the old don meets an abandoned boy who needs a parent as much as protection. By taking Gabe under his wing and teaching him everything he knows, Angelo Vestieri will learn, in the winter of his life, which is greater: his love for the boy he cherishes, or his need to be a gangster and to live by the savage rules he helped create.
A sweeping panoramic with riveting characters, a unique understanding of the underworld philosophy, and a relentless pace, Gangster travels through the time of godfathers and goodfellas to our own world of suburban Sopranos. But this is more than just an authentic chronicle of crime. Setting a new standard for this acclaimed author, Gangster is a compassionate portrait of one man's fight against his fate—and an unforgettable epic of a family, a city, a century.
"I was now well-prepared to be a career criminal... I just didn't have the stomach for any of it." Carcaterra's latest crime novel is the tantalizing coming-of-age story of orphan Gabe, groomed by longtime New York City mob boss Angelo Vestieri to be his successor. The novel opens in the 1990s as Gabe, now middle-aged, keeps watch over Vestieri on his hospital deathbed. Slipping back in time to the Depression, the narrative tracks the rise of the famed mob boss from Italian immigrant to lord of Manhattan's underworld, when Gabe, 10, walks into Vestieri's bar after running out on his latest foster parents in 1964. Vestieri takes the impressionable boy under his wing and ushers him into the world of organized crime. Gabe runs numbers, collects debts and learns loyalty and the price of betrayal. Yet when the time comes for Gabe to take over the operation, he refuses, choosing a normal life despite his deep love for Vestieri. As he did in Sleepers and Apaches, Carcaterra shows dexterity in humanizing the denizens of the urban underbelly. Through a fine characterization of the enigmatic Vestieri, he provides a stirring perspective on the ways of mobsters and their history. Yet the book's central theme, the complex choice facing Gabe, is poorly developed, rarely penetrating the surface of his rejection of gang life. Carcaterra's portrayal focuses primarily on violence as the source of Gabe's revulsion, only touching on Gabe's understanding of how mobsters--through fear and corruption--influence society in much deeper ways.
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Should be a movie
This book is one of my all time favorites. It should be a gangster classic. I felt it was even better than the book version of The Godfather. The first time I read the last paragraph I got chills. Lorenzo has some other good books but this is his best by far.
Well written, must read novel! Read it like four times!
I read this book a couple years back. A really good book. Wish they could make it a movie. I'm a filmmaker and I hope to get the rights for this in the future.