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Billy Bathgate

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  4,247 ratings  ·  226 reviews
To open this book is to enter the perilous, thrilling world of Billy Bathgate, the brazen boy who is accepted into the inner circle of the notorious Dutch Schultz gang. Like an urban Tom Sawyer, Billy takes us along on his fateful adventures as he becomes good-luck charm, apprentice, and finally protégé to one of the great murdering gangsters of the Depression-era underwor ...more
ebook, 209 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Random House (first published 1989)
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Bill  Kerwin

This picaresque novel about Bronx-born “Billy Bathgate” Behan, a street urchin and errand-boy for the Dutch Schulz mob, memorably evokes the tough urban streets of the early '30's, but its principal achievement is the voice of the first person narrator, “Billy Bathgate” himself.

Like his literary ancestor Huckleberry Finn, Billy speaks naturally, with colloquial snap and humor. He describes his streets and adventures in the way that an intelligent boy of his age would see them, and he soon convin
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,
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
Donna Davis
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
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
189. Billy Bathgate – E.L. Doctorow
در دوران رکود اقتصادی تاریخی، در سال های 1930، در محله ی فقر زده ی برانکس نیویورک، گانگستری به نام داچ شولتز، پسرکی را در خیابان میبیند، که با همسالانش شعبه بازی میکند، او به عنوان دستخوش، یک اسکناس ده دلاری به او میدهد. از آن لحظه به بعد، پسر، بیلی باتگیت، با زندگی داچ شولتز و دار و دسته اش، گره میخورد. بیلی، بعدها مشاهدات و تجربه های شگفت آورش در زندگی، جنایت، عشق و مرگ در میان گانگسترهای نیویورک را، در این کتاب مینویسد. سبک رمان حاضر بی شک، پست مدرن است. باز
Jean Poulos
Doctorow died in July 2015, so I checked my records to see what books of his I had read and was surprised to find the only book I had read was “Ragtime”. It is a funny feeling; I could have sworn I had read “Billy Bathgate”. Now I have another reading project, which is to read all of Doctorow’s books.

“Billy Bathgate” is Doctorow’s eighth novel (1989). The story won the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction in 1990 and the National Book Critics Award in 1989.

The book takes place in the 1930s New York. B
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.
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
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
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).
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
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
As a reader opens the pages of "Billy Bathgate" they are taken back to the days of prohibition and notorious gangsters.

One of those famous gangsters wi Dutch Schultz. He befriends Billy and becomes a father-like figure to the fifteen-year-old boy. Shultz who was born in the Bronx in 1901 built his criminal network from bootlegging, gambling and murder.

Billy lives with his mom in a run down area of Lenox Ave and 125th street. He had no father and no direction in life. He comes to idolize Schultz
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.
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.
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?
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
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
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
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
What a strange novel this is. I don't necessarily mean the content of the story, but more in how the narrative is laid out, and how the sentences are constructed, and how it all tries to fit together. Highly original, if nothing else. The arc of the plotline seems to turn story construction on its head, in that in starts (mini SPOILERS follow) with a taut action scene, moves to flashback, returns to the here-and-now only to find that the here-and-now has become a prolonged hideout/waiting game f ...more
Book Club Mom
If you like intelligent and well-written historical fiction and New York stories about organized crime during the 1930s, check out Billy Bathgate, by E. L. Doctorow. Published in 1989, Billy Bathgate won both the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The 1991 movie stars Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman, Loren Dean, Bruce Willis, Steven Hill and Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire).

Billy Bathgate is a fifteen-year-old boy from the Bronx who becomes a pr
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
Great coming of age novel. Billy Bathgate is reminiscent of Huck Finn. Both teenagers struggle with the mores of their environments and succeed (more or less) in attaining some degree of moral growth. Billy is more successful than Huck, because Twain allows Huck's final adventure, the one aimed at freeing the slave Jim from captivity, to degenerate into racist drivel. In the last 50 pages of Twain's novel, Jim is reduced to the passive importance of a bed post. The boys, Huck and Tom Sawyer, pay ...more
Joseph Perkins Jr.
Billy Bathgate by E.L. Doctorow was a fast, cunning, and spicy read. Taking place in the 1920'-30's era it is a coming of age novel about a fifteen year old boy named Billy, who finds himself meeting and getting wrapped in the dirty, seedy, dog-eat-dog world of "gangster life." Doctorow does a spectacular job of depicting the tenements mixed with the lavish and murderous gangster life of New York City. It is a seething place that Billy lives in, but must also find his way through. Starting as an ...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.
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.
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
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E. L. DOCTOROW’S works of fiction include Homer & Langley,The March, Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, the Book of Daniel, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, The Waterworks, and All the Time in the World. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle Awards, two PEN Faulkner Awards, The Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, and the presidential ...more
More about E.L. Doctorow...
Ragtime The March Homer & Langley The Book of Daniel World's Fair

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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.” 4 likes
“When crime was working as it was supposed to it was very dull. Very lucrative and very dull.” 0 likes
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