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Narrows Gate [Paperback]

Jim Fusilli
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

15 Nov 2011
Jim Fusilli’s new novel takes place in the years surrounding World War II in the dangerous immigrant neighborhood of Narrows Gate, overlooking the Hudson River, where anything can happen—and it usually does. Sal Benno is a neighborhood kid who doesn’t take to school but is able to provide the favors the Mafia needs, a skill that brings him into their inner circle and closer to ultimate danger. His lifelong friend Leo Bell sticks by Sal through thick and thin, but harbors a dangerous secret that could either keep Sal alive—or bring his life to an abrupt end. In the middle of it is Billy “Bebe” Marsala, a hugely popular and handsome crooner who becomes a pawn in a mob war that could destroy them all. A novel that rekindles the spirit of such groundbreaking works as Mario Puzo’s The Godfather and Budd Schulberg’s On the Waterfront, Narrows Gate is a powerful, epic saga that captures the heart of the immigrant experience—and the soul of America.

Product details

  • Paperback: 574 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (15 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612181376
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612181370
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,904,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jim Fusilli serves as the rock and pop music critic of the Wall Street Journal. He is the author of six books: Closing Time; A Well-Known Secret; Tribeca Blues; Hard, Hard City, Mystery Ink magazine’s 2004 Novel of the Year; Pet Sounds; and Marley Z and the Bloodstained Violin. He served as the editor of, and contributed chapters to, the award-winning serial thrillers The Chopin Manuscript and The Copper Bracelet. He developed Narrows Gate as a setting in numerous published short stories. “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 lives in New York City with his wife, the former Diane Holuk, a senior public relations executive. Their daughter Cara is a graduate of the New School.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Tommy Dooley TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Yes this is not a genre busting book and the comparisons with Mario Puzo and James Ellroy are well founded, but that does not mean that this is not a stand out book in its own right. It is based around the ex pat Sicilian community of Polk Street New York. Everyone knows everyone and everyone knows who runs things, and it ain't City Hall.

The lives and fortunes of everyone are intertwined with how they can benefit the crime families, even if you are legit, you need their permission to carry on or their protection to exist. The fortunes of the community are told through the lives of a number of its characters. There is the young boy who loses his family and an eye that is Salvatore Benno, he is best mates with a Polish Jew who pretends to be an Italian Catholic - Leo Bell. We have the lame singer whose matriarch would make or break him, the local girl who falls for him and the movie star who he falls for. He is Bebe but as was the norm in those days he has to change his name to a more anglicised Billy Marsala.

In between there is a host of characters that interplay with each other, we have the operations of the G men who decide to infiltrate organized crime, the effects that World War II had on the protagonists and the changing fortunes of all those involved. Jim Fuseli has done a tremendous job of bringing all of the characters to life and the cultural divide between the Italian Americans and Irish Americans.

One of the stand out parts of this novel is the way Jim Fusilli describes the music, tastes and changing fashions, they are as integral to the book as are the characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Has Serious Pros and Cons 17 April 2013
By HeavyMetalMonty VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Narrows Gate is a lengthy tome that spans decades in an Italian-American community in New York. I'll make this review short, unlike the book.

Pros: Jim Fusilli builds an entire world within the microcosm of Narrows Gate; the scope of the novel is substantial, covering decades and describing the main characters' transitions from children to adults; sentences are clipped and mainly in the active voice, helping the flow of prose; language is unpretentious; racial profiling is realistic without coming across as prejudiced.

Cons: characters, especially criminals, are two-dimensional and essentially interchangeable, lacking depth, uniqueness and development over time; dialogue is dull, most of the characters lacking the idiosyncrasies of speech that identify real people like vocal fingerprints.

If you're a fan of The Godfather, Donnie Brasco, Goodfellas, The Sopranos and other art that portrays the darker side of Italian-American culture, you may enjoy Narrows Gate. If not, this book probably won't grip your attention long enough to allow you to finish the story.

The pros make the book worth reading, but it would have been much better had Fusilli put more energy into creating characters with depth and uniqueness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read for those new to the Genre 28 Jan 2012
By D. Richards VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoyed reading this book, despite it containing many "checklist" elements of "mafia" fiction - a man "woking his way to the top", a test of friendship, who's the real bad guy? and a mafia related singer with blue eyes and an eye for the ladies.

The story itself is well developed and contains some very good sub plots ands interesting characters; the product description for this book will tell you what the story is in a nutshell, and I don't wish to spoil it here - however the book is written in a very engaging and earnest style and it certainly held my interest for the 600+ that make up this book. The main problem I had with this book is that while it is well wtitten and well paced, it brings nothing new to the Genre.

If you've seen Goodfellas, The Godfather or have read any of Mario Puzo's other books (Specifically "fools gold", "omerta" and "the last don") then you have a rough idea of where the plot is headed and the characters themselves feel as though they have been lifted straight out of these works - even though the author says he's based the book on "real life people and events" and has fictionalised them. I've not read any "mafia" fiction for a while now, so these similarities did not put me off reading and finishing the book, however if you regularly read books in this genre then "Narrow's Gate" is going to feel a bit bland and run of the mill as there is nothing in it to set it apart from the rest of what's on the market.

All in all, a very good book that's well wtitten has a solid story, but probably better suited to people who've read little Mafia fiction, or people like me who've not read any in a while and want to re-familiarise themsevels with the Genre
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag 1 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The book is set with a time line starting from the Prohibition years and the initial emergence of crime based organizations that flourished by selling boot leg Alcohol, and seeming to in the 1950s. The back drop for the story is New York and across the river to New Jersey.
Once I have got a book to read I very rarely give up, but I must say this novel was unfortunately one of those titles that took me close. This book is a mixed bag of iconography from different Mafia themed stories and at best a `diet coke' version of the god father series, the characters portrayed, seem to be part of fare found in most novels of this ilk. The Frank Sinatra character seems to be lifted directly out of the god father part one, and seems to be less rounded, but more clichéd with the very over bearing mother.
The one saving grace is the rather interesting interplay between two childhood friends their lives are interwoven with the Mafia and how they try and stay loyal to each other. Definitely a book for a longer cross country train ride, or one for the airport. So to sum up we have characters that are stereotypical, which is then set in a narrative we are all very familiar with. May be I blinked and missed something here; it is not a bad novel there are worse out there but only worth Three stars in my opinion.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Rambling muddle
I almost gave up at the end of part I, but reluctantly ploughed on until the end and was left disappointed. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Surbcru
4.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted addition to the genre
I normally read for forty minutes on the train in the morning and another forty minutes on the way home. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Roy C
4.0 out of 5 stars not really my cup of tea
This is quite a chunky book at 574 pages and it was quite

difficult to get through although I have raced through other much

longer books so perhaps the... Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2012 by Green Book Addict Librarian
4.0 out of 5 stars A handsfull but enjoyable
This is a long-long book and I have to admit, a bit difficult to get into. As with every mafia themed classic, it has a long cast of characters and a series of overlapping... Read more
Published on 17 Feb 2012 by Ioannis Glinavos
4.0 out of 5 stars Sicilians in New York
I chose to read this book with some trepidation. While knowing something of the history of the time it is set in, and enjoying books about New York and it's history, I have for... Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2012 by Penny Waugh
3.0 out of 5 stars Mafia Mayhem
Covering a 30 year period, this is a nicely convoluted crime thriller, which if you're a fan of Mario Puzo you will enjoy. Read more
Published on 27 Jan 2012 by catherine
4.0 out of 5 stars Mario Puzoesque
This is a thinly veiled account of mobsters from the thirties into the sixties where there is a lot of fun to be had in working out who the characters are based on, Frank Sinatra... Read more
Published on 9 Jan 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
A mafia mob book spanning the 1920's to the fifties or so set mainly in the New York/New Jersey areas with lots of standout characters from the top Don to the delivery boy, Benno. Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2011 by Dave
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining But Lacks A Lot Of Originality Since Much Of The Book Is...
Fusilli's Narrows Gate takes place from the late 1920's through the 1950's, in which a gritty Italian-American waterfront community in the shadow of NYC known as Narrows Gate is... Read more
Published on 21 Dec 2011 by Bobbewig
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