Dave Newman's Reviews > Gravesend
Dave Newman's review
Dec 01, 2013
Read 2 times. Last read December 6, 2013 to December 9, 2013.
William Boyle has written a brilliant debut novel, packed full of gritty characters struggling to make a living in the roughed-up neighborhood of Gravesend until the only choice left is tragedy. This is a working-class novel in the way that Fat City is a working class novel or Frozen River is a working-class film. Actresses can’t find films to act in. Kids make drops for the mob. Grown men ring the cash register in Rite Aid. The daily grind Boyle describes is endless. You tend bar. You run numbers. You do anything to make a life until the life you’ve made is barely worth living. Every character in this book deserves a line of praise, just as every building in that neighborhood does. The details Boyle uses to describe the bars and shooting ranges and old houses of Gravesend are spot-on and poetic in the most naturally honest way. It’s the poetry of Nelson Algren. It’s the poetry of Leonard Gardner in Fat City. In only one book, William Boyle jumps ranks to become one of my favorite crime writers, up there with David Goodis and Charles Willeford, but this is something else too, something more than a crime novel. This is someone with Flannery-O'Connor-sized talent writing about Gravesend, a city filled with the dead and the dying, even as Boyle desperately tries to keep them alive with his art. Great book. Great writer. Highly recommended.
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