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Billy Bathgate ()

National Book Critics' Circle Award (1989)

Billy Bathgate is a young street urchin who attaches himself to Dutch Schultz and his mob & proceeds to narrate Dutch's decline and fall.

I didn't think this one was up to the standard that Doctorow has set in books like Ragtime (see Review) & Waterworks.  For one thing, mobsters have been done to death. But more significantly, fiction with the arc of tragedy requires a tragic figure--here, we never like Dutch enough to care that he gets his comeuppance.


Grade: (C)


E.L. Doctorow Links:

    -ESSAY: W.G. Sebald: The modern novel's master strategist (E.L. Doctorow, March 23, 2003, LA Times)

Book-related and General Links:

If you liked Billy Bathgate, try:

Kennedy, William
    -An Albany Trio : Three Novels from the Albany Cycle : Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, Ironweed