Happy Thanksgiving to all who observe!
Catch and Release ***
Been angling to read more LB lately so I figured I’d knock out this short story collection for my monthly HCC read. Sadly, the results were predictable: a repetition of serial killers, hit men and un-sexy sex. I just can’t sink my teeth into books featuring short stories and this one was no exception. I enjoyed visiting Matt and Mick at Grogan’s again and the last story was fun but beyond that? Who lotta eh and I’m glad to have it off the HCC list.
We Do This ’til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice ****
I think had I read this at a different time in my life, I would have been more moved. Having read Angela Davis’ work on prisons before getting to Mariame Kaba…and then having read Kaba’s work before reading this…a lot of it was familiar. There’s still great stuff to chew on. I love how Kaba allows herself to question her thoughts, to be moved by others, to grow. It sets a standard for activism. Her work has greatly influenced me. I was hoping this would be a roadmap to carceral abolition but it’s not and Kaba does a great job of engaging the why. A good primer for those unfamiliar with her work and/or prison abolition.
The League: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched an Empire ****
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this one. I expected it to be good; I had enjoyed Eisenberg’s work dating back to his Baltimore Sun days. But I didn’t expect it to be so readable and yet informative. A nice, tight narrative history. I picked it up and put it down not because it was bad or dense but because it allowed me to plow through other more difficult reads while being a familiar comfort when I needed a break. A great story of the founding days of the NFL. Maybe renders MacCambridge’s book moot. I’ll have to do more research.
Ghosts of West Baltimore ****
Look, if a golden machine gun that talks like the soul of the late Mayor William Donald Schaefer doesn’t make you laugh uproariously, then maybe this book — and Baltimore — isn’t for you.
Mob Star: The Story of John Gotti ****
Probably as good a book as we’re gonna get on John Gotti, especially since it was written by the guys who were there. Well detailed but too many typos and inaccuracies (Al Capone dying in prison? C’monnnn). Wish it had covered the end of his life more but it does what it needs to do. Hope it’s the last book I read on Gotti, though I’d welcome a fictional take.
Hit Me ****
The ending of the last Keller book functioned perfectly as a conclusion to the series so I assumed Block brought him back for One Last Job. But no, Keller is broke thanks to working in housing during the subprime mortgage crisis and he’s got nothing better to do. So we get some more Keller operating and it’s fun and while I’m not sure Block meant to leave it open ended, this one can also function as a series finale. Block said in an appearance this past summer that he’s probably done writing and — if so — this is a good conclusion for Keller.
This is a good gateway book for the Mafia curious because you learn a lot of entry level stuff as to the day-to-day life. I knew most of it so it was tedious, as were many of Pistone’s stories. I also was kinda disappointed the book didn’t focus more on mob life in Williamsburg. But still, it is a very good book, an essential one to understanding what was then the biggest mob bust in history, and how it was done in an unlikely way. Also, the relationship between Donnie (Joe) and Sonny was tragic. I almost felt bad for the Capo. It’s been over a decade since I saw the movie but I thought it portrayed him as being closer to Lefty. Here, he’s much closer to Sonny and it’s sad. Though that whole life is sad and this book will show you why.