Gangsterland had been on my “to read” pile for some time. I am what I would define as a super fan of the podcast “Literary Disco.” This novel is the newest book by Tod Goldberg, one of the contributors of the podcast. If you haven’t heard it, you MUST. Here is their description of the shenanigans they get up to.
We’re Julia, Tod, and Rider — three good friends who also happen to be huge book nerds. Scattered to the far reaches of Southern California, more Southern California, and mid-Connecticut, we desperately missed each other’s company and yelling at each other about Stephen King. We decided to rekindle these friendly intellectual discussions using the magic of the internet and fancy microphones. We’re writers, but we’ve always been readers first and foremost. Since the three of us have been talking and arguing about books for years, we decided to start recording some of our conversations. And since 2012, we’ve been doing just that. You can read about our humble beginnings on The Rumpus. or you can simply go back to the first episode and begin binging.
I went into it reaaaaally wanting to like it because I like Tod as a person, and I am pleased to say I do. It did take me a while to get in to the book, it didn’t hook me immediately, but much like the story itself it was a slow build. Plus, reading a gangster book filled with violence circa the holidays (I started this one late December) feels a little funny. But, I endorse this if you, like me, or a fan of the gangster genre, either in literary or film media.
Sal Cupertine has spent his life as a hitman for the family. He is calculating, has an impressive memory, and is good at his job. At this point in his life, he is also a family man, but at his core he is a cold-blooded killer. On a good day he is methodical but on a bad day, say, the day he gets into the heroin and figure out he is in an FBI sting, he goes off the rails and takes out a pile of FBI agents. Under normal circumstances, he would have just signed his death warrant but he is, pardon the borrow, a man with a special set of skills. So, the mafia powers that be have him shipped in a meat cooler to Vegas, give him some plastic surgery, and he is now told that he will be a rabbi, part of the Vegas mafia’s operation of running a fancy school/temple/funeral home operation. Will the FBI agent who carries the blame of his colleague’s murders figure this out (maybe)? Will Sal turn a new leaf (unlikely)? These are the main questions of the story.
Overall, I enjoyed it, and I’m excited for the sequel, Gangster Nation, but I’m going to give it a month or so before diving in. It was a good well written book, and though the ending was tantalizing, it didn’t make me feel the need to jump on the next installment, but I do anticipate liking it as well.