Gifford’s sentimental new novel tracks scrappy, precocious Roy as he finds his way in hardscrabble 1950s Chicago’s Polish ward. Roy’s life is populated by a crew of wayward boys—the Viper, Magic Frank, and Crazy Lester—who all must confront violence, mental illness, and death in their cold and windy enclave. The world is not entirely gloomy; Roy’s development as a writer and love for his mother are rays of light in even the novel’s bleakest moments. Though Roy’s adventures have the classic footloose appeal of coming-of-age adventures, it’s the rogue’s gallery of supporting characters that are most memorable, from the Albanian lothario Cubar Shog and mobbed up Sharkface Bensky to the numerous other cutthroats in Roy’s orbit. Gifford, best known for his Sailor and Lula novels (Wild at Heart; etc.), has a soft, transporting touch that makes a strong case for this being a one-sitting endeavor. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/16/2010 Release date: 10/01/2010 Genre: Fiction
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