Billy Bathgate (Sous Réserve)
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Billy Bathgate (Sous Réserve)

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  3,432 ratings  ·  188 reviews
In the Bronx of the 1930s, 15-year-old Billy Bathgate hooks up with a legendary mobster, Dutch Schultz. Schultz becomes an unlikely surrogate parent to the boy, introducing him to the ways of the world & training Billy to follow in his footsteps. After Billy falls for Schulz's latest girlfriend, he begins to question the actions of the mob he was so eager to join. As h...more
Published (first published 1989)
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علی
I do enjoy reading Doctorow but I can't find a word, a relevant sentence, something which reveals my high respect to him and his works / novels.
بیل باتگیت با ترجمه ی زیبای نجف دریابندری به فارسی منتشر شده است.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This was fun! There were a couple of instances of somewhat graphic violence - this was Dutch Schultz's gang - but not in a squeamish way and so much that I was fearful. There was also a somewhat graphic sex scene. It was probably a lot more graphic when first published in 1989, but sex in books has become more graphic of late, and I think this might be a bit mild.

Doctorow's prose is interesting. He is a bit free with his sentence structure and there were a couple of times I went back to reread,...more
Bob
Doctorow, you probably are aware, is best known for a kind of historical fiction concentrating on different episodes in 20th century American history (everyone from Stanford White and Emma Goldman to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg has their story revisited). He adds a few fictional characters (typically the narrator), some propulsive but not modernist prose, and the story tells itself!
This time it is Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano and the other gangsters of the Prohibition (and just post) era. The nar...more
Carol
Doctorow's prose style is surprisingly smooth and hypnotic, making this book about a boy's rise through the ranks of organized crime in the 1930s a wonderful read. I was pleasantly surprised by the way Doctorow made both his protagonist and his story clear-sighted and balanced. Billy never deludes himself about the ugly and violent side of gangland life even while he is attracted by and continues to pursue it. Doctorow also gives a lot of attention to the emotional and psychological experience o...more
Kara
I stayed up 'til way-too-late o'clock finishing this book. Like Ragtime, Doctorow illuminates and enlivens American history -- in this case, the story of Dutch Schultz and the NYC gangster scene. Doctorow's writing style has a certain stream-of-consciousness, POV flow that initially might turn off some readers but is well worth the trouble.
Oscar
Es curioso lo que pasa con el escritor E.L. Doctorow. Me da la impresión de que es más conocido que leído, y no conozco a nadie que tenga a Doctorow como su escritor favorito. A mí me ha gustado prácticamente todo lo que he leído de él, algunos libros incluso me parecen magistrales, y sin embargo, si tuviese que dar diez nombres de escritores favoritos, por decir una cifra, no creo que apareciese en mi lista. Doctorow es un escritor con oficio, con multitud de premios a sus espaldas y varias nom...more
Jake
I am not, by nature, a big fan of literature. I read strictly for leisure and lit works, which I appreciate and admire, are not really up my ally. Not that I lack the intellectual capacity to understand and respect them, I just don't enjoy reading them.

I knew that "Billy Bathgate" is a lit book before I started reading it. However, I was really intrigued by the subject (teenager growing up in the waning days of the Dutch Schultz mob) and the accomplishments of author EL Doctorow that I decided t...more
John Perreault
The 1920s/1930s gang world is notorious for its colorful characters. Bootlegging, racketeering, and a sense of class created a veneer over the brutality of power and death that often followed these. In this novel, Doctorow looks at this life through the eyes of the tiitle character, a 15 year old who not only witnesses murders of those who turn on the main gang leader (Dutch Schultz), but also becomes almost a protege of this leader. He survives the mayhem. The ending is a bit quick and Billy Ba...more
Alisa
Doctorow's book is a challenging read. First, the story is told from the point of view of Billy, a 15-year-old boy. Punctuation and wording are appropriate to the speaker. Second, the story is not told in chronological order, and I had some trouble figuring out the chronology of the events. These aspects of the text didn't discourage me from reading the book, but if you're looking for a fast and easy read, this book is not for you.

Billy Behan is a 15-year-old boy who gets involved with Dutch Sch...more
Amar
In this book, a fifteen year old kid admires mob life. One day, while this kid is juggling for his friends, the great mobster Dutch Schultz rolls up in a big Packard, steps out and, upon seeing Billy juggling five objects, smiles and calls young Billy over. He pulls out a wad of bills, peels one off and hands it to the boy.

It is this moment that defines young Billy. After this encounter, Billy ingratiates himself with Dutch Schultz and works to become, gradually, his protege, doing menial jobs a...more
Roger Leatherwood
More than simply a crime novel taking place during the dying days of Prohibition, "Billy Bathgate" embraces and investigates the standard cliches of crime fiction, of biographies, of unreliable narrators, and all that other stuff that post-modern writers do to a fault.

Possibly Doctorow is the elder statesman and developed his technique before the rush to hypermodern and remodern movements kicked in to make such novels impossible to read (Coover may have spoiled me on these early and completely)....more
Donna
I have to admit, E.L. Doctorow is one of those writers whose work is a sure fire hit for me. I love historical fiction, and I admire great word-smithery. Doctorow is skilled with both.

This one is a period piece, a look at a hard time and the ugly risks that some folks took from desperation and perhaps a misplaced idea of what greatness might look like. To be sure, the government wasn't exactly setting a good example; those who searched for less-than-conventional means were, in my view, right to...more
Barbara
Aug 14, 2008 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: recommended by my brother
This is a remarkable book told from the viewpoint of "a capable boy" from the tenement streets of the East Bronx who is taken in by the crimeland figure Dutch Shultz. It is E.L. Doctorow at the near-peak of his powers creating a fascinating story by winding history and fiction together. My only criticism was that I didn't quite believe the romance of a sub-plot which I won't discuss here as it would create a spoiler. But, when Doctorow is describing the sites and sounds of the streets or creatin...more
Phil
This is my second Doctorow book. I read Homer and Langley a month or so ago. I enjoyed Billy Bathgate as much as I enjoyed Homer and Langley. Doctorow has a very clear way of writing. The characters in both Novels are very well drawn. I prefer the first person of this novel, that said for a 15 year old Billy does not seem a very believable narrator. Bathgate uses a few words that are neither of his Bronx upbringing or his age. The word "Camisole" (the short slip women wear) seems like a word a 1...more
Max Zumstein
Y'know there's lots of books out there where someone inserts a fictional character in with real life events or time periods to learn ya some things about how these things actually came to pass and add a human element to history blah blah blah. It's kind of a thing, particularly in postmodern fiction, and while it's not one that I'm always completely enamored with, it can definitely be a good mode of exploring certain themes about how we canonize historical figures, how certain historical events...more
Joseph
Per Doctorow, the language is dense and the syntax spirals on. Yet, rather than alienating or being at odds with the narrator and story, it actually makes both epic. I love the rendering of 1930s America, and I love the idea of a mob story beginning on the decline of the characters--it's more like Greek tragedy as opposed to Shakespearean (I knew things were going to fall apart, but the question was how), except of course for Bathgate. The final sentence was killer.
Jo Stafford
Great writing seduces me like nothing else, and this is truly great writing. While reading this novel, nothing else existed for me. Doctorow has created an unforgettable character in Billy, a 15-year-old boy from the Bronx tenements who goes to work for one of the most notorious gangsters of the 1930s, Dutch Schultz. This is a vivid portrait of the gangster milieu with its numbers-running rackets and its deadly violence. Its appeal to a poor kid with limited options and a crazy mother is not har...more
Mary Lou
This edition exactly except this is a soft cover without an ISBN.

Gang apprenticeship for a young teenager whose primary earlier accomplishment was juggling. It’s all told in long sentences many of which ignore grammatical rules, sometimes making it difficult to follow. It's persuaded me to avoid this author in the future.
Virginia
It took me a long time to get into this story. The first few chapters were tedious and chock full of detail that didn't seem relevant. Once I got past page 75 or so, I could barely put the book down, it was very fast paced. I don't know that I would read anything else by this author, though, that first 75 pages was a slog.
Loen
Did anyone read this? *SPOILER ALERT* It didn't really make sense to me that Billy and his mother wound up with Drew's baby. She was very much the aborting type, and if she hadn't, I feel like she had the kind of marriage and lifestyle where they would have just left the baby with a nanny. Thoughts?
Mohammad
از دکترف یه داستان کوتاه به اسم یولیوان کوچولو توی مجموعه ی بعد از لباس جین هست که سال ها است می خوام فیلم نامه اش کنم و پا نمی ده. بیلی بت گیت رو به عنوان یه نمونه از رمان امریکایی که ما خیلی کم ازش خوندیم و خیلی کم هم ترجمه شده پیشنهاد می کنم
Kate
Wow. I had a hard time when I neared the end and I was too busy to sit down for any good length of time to finish the story! But I finally made the time. Now I'm ready to read another of E.L. Doctorow's novels.
Gail Multop
There is a scene in this book, about "cement shoes" that is indelibly etched in my brain. The horror of it but also the broken humanity of it will always come to mind when I think of this book.
Azadeh
بیلی باتگیت رمان خوش اقبالی شاید نبوده چرا که هر کس سراغ‌اش رفته در جستجویِ یک «رگ‌تایم» ثانی بوده یا دستِ‌کم همیشه در حالِ مقایسه‌ی این دو که ظاهراً گریزی نیست از آن. شروع رمان درخشان و متمرکز است؛ خواننده تکلیف‌اش را به‌خوبی با داستان و شخصیت‌ها می‌داند. این‌جا خبری از غافل‌گیری‌های داستانی نیست چنان‌که در رگ‌تایم بود؛ مثلاً سر و کله‌ی فروید هنگام بازدید از مناظر توریستی پیدا نمی‌شود؛ اما آرتور آشغالی، بکی و بقیه بچه‌های یتیم‌خانه همان‌قدر خوب پرداخته شده‌اند که مادرِ خل‌وضعِ بیلی در مقیاس خود...more
LeAnne
One of two books from my bookgroup that I couldn't finish. I may try again when my to-read list is down to zero. Ha!
Gabriel Oak
Wonderful historical fiction about New York during the years of "Dutch" Schultz, the notorious Jewish gangster who ruled the Bronx in the late 1920s and early 1930s until his assassination by Lucky Luciano. The novel is narrated by Billy, a young man who is initiated into Schultz's gang roundabout 1934, just as Schultz begins his decline into paranoia and isolation from the other New York gangs. Billy's language is brooding and beautiful--Cormac McCarthy-esque--and the novel is absolutely riveti...more
Keetongeer
This was my second Doctorow novel and I've come to the conclusion that I like his work. He researches, he builds great stories and characters, and he's a great writer.

Honestly, I was slow getting into Billy Bathgate. Maybe gangster novels aren't my thing. But by the middle of the novel it started to kick in. By the end, I was thrilled that I had stuck it out. Great story, great characters, a wonderful time period in old New York and a story that was believable. When I put the novel down, I felt...more
Joy H.
Added 2/22/14. Started but did not continue.
Billy Bathgate (1989)

I picked up this book free somewhere. I doubt if I will get too far with it. So many other things are on the docket these days. I have read only the first chapter so far.

Doctorow presents details in such a skilled manner that you tend to keep reading in amazement over his masterly use of words. To one who loves words, his prose is a pleasure. I'm not sure I will be able to keep up with his long sentences, but I will try. The brutal...more
Veronica
After being enthralled with Ragtime, I was anticipating another great read with Billy Bathgate, but, alas, I was not to be so rewarded. While the writing was above par and the story intriguing, it lacked the allure I was expecting to once again find.

A young boy living in a Bronx tenement with his unstable mother is lured into a mobster’s life after he is judged to be a “capable boy” by the infamous Dutch Schultz. At age 15, the young Billy Bathgate experiences a life’s worth of lessons.

The book’...more
Maggie
I would have given Billy Bathgate four stars, but it ended to soon! So, high criticism. It took a few chapters for the book to interest me, but once I was snagged I read the entire thing through, and was only dismayed that it felt prematurely ended- just as the narrative was flourishing, enjoying the benefits of all the hard work before, the story was over. It is so rare for me to feel this way about a book that I can't recall another single time at the moment.

This was the first of E.L. Doctoro...more
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“The story was clearly over, as in juggling when the ball you throw up finds the moment to come down, hesitates as if it might not, and then drops at the same speed of that celestial light. And life is no longer good but just what you happen to be holding.” 3 likes
“And now I will tell of the revels that went on for three nights and two days in the brothel on West Seventy-sixth Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues.” 0 likes
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