Modern Literature Joe Connelly Crumbtown

ISBN 13: 9780375413643

Crumbtown

2.66 avg rating
( 56 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780375413643: Crumbtown

From the acclaimed author of Bringing Out the Dead (“A knock-down spectacular first novel” —GQ), a darkly comic, wildly imaginative, unstoppable new novel.

Crumbtown is disaster zone as neighborhood, crisscrossed by streets called Lemmings, Felony, Sodden; rapidly losing its edges to the river; inhabited by people who know firsthand that “there’s bad luck in the world, and then there’s crumbluck.”

Don Reedy is the poster boy for crumbluck. His ticket out of town was a fifteen-year jail term for a staged armed robbery. His ticket out of jail is a return to Crumbtown. He’s got early parole and a job as a consultant to the TV show based on his own life, but he’s had to give up “all current and future rights to any representations of his life, both fictional and otherwise.” So when he decides to rob the TV robbery—becoming the criminal he never really was—the cameras are rolling, the script-writer is already making the appropriate changes, and the producer figures they’ve got a ten-point rating in the bag. Don, however, is on the run—a ploy complicated not just by the cameras, but by the dual casts of his life and the show: the fireplug half twins, Tim and Tom, who ran out on him after the first robbery; the still-prone-to-tantrums former child star who plays Don; the real cop/TV cop on Don’s trail with a posse of actor cops carrying real guns; and Rita, the beautiful Russian-born Crumbtown-adopted bartender with a past full of man trouble and a future full of Don—if he can just decide which Don he wants, or needs, to be.

Written with all the immediacy, heart, and richness of character that marked his debut novel, Crumbtown is, as well, furiously satiric—and further proof that in Joe Connelly we have a writer of the first order.

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Review:

Crumbtown, Joe Connelly's second novel (following 1998's Bringing Out the Dead), is a satirical romp through a neighborhood filled with inept criminals, reality television crews, and urban squalor. Once across the Dodgeport Bridge into Crumbtown, cobblestones are replaced with potholes, and buildings are "numbered not in sequence but according to color." Crumbtown native Don Reedy led a life of crime until he was caught: he stole and vandalized vehicles, and robbed banks until caught while throwing cash to the locals. Rob Landetta, struggling to stay afloat in the entertainment industry, seizes upon Reedy's tale and obtains early parole for Reedy in order to have him act as a consultant on his own life story. Reedy's botched bank job is recreated, complete with his bungling former partners, the twins Tim and Tom. When the actors are slipped real guns, Reedy decides to do the job right this time, and sets to rob the television show and its "fake" bank.

Connelly creates much room for satire in Crumbtown, but the book contains too many cheap laughs (naming places "Snob Gardens" and "Felony Street") and has an off-putting sheen of bizarreness. For instance, when Reedy's old friends find out he's out of prison, they throw a party: "Uncle Billy, whom Don wasn't related to, was the first one to punch him. He said he heard Don had died and he cried so violently it took three people to pull him away. Iron Heinz danced through the door with a case of beer on his head, and Father Sunshine walked in and wrestled with his hair." Nevertheless, Crumbtown is an entertaining neighborhood, and Connelly shows us where a preoccupation with reality television could lead. --Michael Ferch

About the Author:

Joe Connelly is the author of Bringing Out the Dead, which was made into a film by Martin Scorsese. A native of New York City, he now lives in the Adirondacks with his wife and family.

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