Gangster is also a novel by Lorenzo Carcaterra
, best known for the original story that inspired the Kevin Bacon
Gangster is a gritty, violent and multi-faceted story about the rise and rise of one of the most (fictional) successful crooks in turn of the 20th century New York. Spanning 1906 to 1996, it is an epic tale of a troubled father, Paolino Vestieri, who murders his own son Carlo in a showdown to prevent him from being indebted to the cammora the Italian mafia
With social upheaval in Italy, Paolino and his wife set off on a dangerous journey to America - lured by promises of wealth, freedom and hope. The jorney is fraught with danger, and the cramped conditions on the refugee boat causes a huge fire to break out below decks. In to this tumultuous setting, Paolino watches his wife die giving birth to his second son, Angelo Vestieri. Promising him freedom from crime and opportunity to grow, Paolino takes his new son to safety. However the fire, smoke and ashes will forever cast a sickness and vulnerability over Angelo.
Once in America, Paolino falls on hard times. Working two jobs to feed his family, he has little time to spend with his growing son. Always an outsider, Angelo is slow to grasp English and becomes an easy target for bullys with his physical weakness. Cue the entry of Pudge Nichols - the school tough. After attacking Angelo, Pudge is surprised when Angelo retaliates, however Pudge hands a nearly fatal beating in response. The fight is observed and ultimately stopped by the local bar owner, Ida the Goose - a mafia born and bred woman with streetwise smarts.
Ida forces Pudge to shelter Angelo, and from this most unlikely combination, the two soon fall in to the deepest of friendships. Angelo compliments Pudge's quick temper and natural pugilistic ability with a cunning unheard of at such a young age. They soon fall in to crime - exactly what Paolino was trying to avoid. Taken in by Angus McQueen, the local Irish mob boss, they move swiftly through the ranks to become Angus' right-hand-men.
Some 15 years later, when Angus gets whacked, Angelo moves in to take control of his territory. Quickly establishing himself as the most deadly of all mob bosses, Angelo lives out the Great Depression and mass industrialisation to help establish "organized crime" and exploits new trends such as the drug trade while weathering deadly turf wars.
Skipping a little through the book, when Angelo is fifty eight and the established kingpin in New York, he meets Gabe - a runaway who reminds Angelo of his upbringing and is taken in by Pudge and Angelo. Not wanting to TOTALLY spoil the story, all I will say is the second half of the book is the development of Gabe with the gangster influence, and the all-encompassing and final choices that are forced and laid out in the most surreal of experiences - life as a gangster child.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2001 (a Viacom company) - local publisher Pocket Books and printed by Griffin Printing (Australia)
The book is told in a mish-mash of third person and first person perspectives, and is narrated with deep emotion and detail. Full of twists and turns, it is very enjoyable, and highly recommended.
2003.1.24@15:21 evadyne says
I like your Gangster
w/u. Well written; good job!