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Gravesend

de William Boyle

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443441,349 (3.65)2
It's been sixteen years since "Ray Boy" Calabrese's actions led to the death of a young man. The victim's brother, Conway D'Innocenzio, is now a 29-year-old Brooklynite wasting away at a local Rite Aid, stuck in the past and drawn into a darker side of himself when he hears that Ray Boy's has been released. But even with the perfect plan in place, Conway can't bring himself to take the ultimate revenge.Meanwhile, failed actress Alessandra returns to her native Gravesend after the death of her mother, torn between a desperate need to escape immediately back to LA and the ease with which she sinks back into neighborhood life. Alessandra and Conway are walking eerily similar paths--staring down the rest of their lives, caring for their aging fathers, lost in the youths they squandered--and each must decide what comes next.In the tradition of American noir authors like Dennis Lehane and James Ellroy, William Boyle's Gravesend brings the titular neighborhood to life in this story of revenge, desperation, and escape.… (mais)

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A great crime novel and one of the best stories about Italian Americans I've read in a long time ( )
  ThomasPluck | Apr 27, 2020 |
GRAVESEND is a noir that deviates from the more classic mode because the revenge killer just can’t pull the trigger and the victim really couldn’t care less if he is killed. Nonetheless, Boyle portrays working class Brooklyn as a dark place filled with grim characters clinging to a past that may not have been all that ideal. They live with memories of high school crushes, slights, and rebellions.

Boyle portrays his Italian-American characters as people who live in the past and identify strongly with their neighborhood. Conway D'Innocenzio wants to revenge the killing of his gay brother by a high school bully named Ray Boy. He is a local looser working a dead-end job at a Rite Aid and caring for his widowed father. Alessandra Biagini briefly escaped Gravesend to LA where she failed in her goal to become an actress but now she’s home caring for her recently widowed father. She has a drinking problem and is reluctantly seeking old contacts in the neighborhood. Eugene Calabrese is a petty high school hood, who idolizes his legendary Uncle Ray Boy. He’s eager to assume the hoodlum role that his uncle seems to have abandoned. Ray Boy is the most enigmatic figure in the book. Apparently he was a “Fonzie” type who has changed dramatically as a result of his 16 years in prison for the hate crime of murdering Duncan D'Innocenzio. These characters are supported by a cast of local losers including a worn-out cop names McKenna, a wealthy ne’er-do-well called Sweat, and a high school friend who never left home and pines for Conway.

The novel follows three interrelated plotlines. Conway means to kill Ray Boy but finds he really doesn’t have the killer instinct. Alessandra tries to relive her high school crush on Ray Boy while being stalked by Conway. And Eugene hatches a crazy scheme to rob a local crime boss. It is obvious from the outset that none of this will end well. After being told by a reader that they could see the end coming a mile away, Boyle was heard to say, “Yeah, it’s not a mystery novel. Eugene’s fucking doomed from the start. You could sense that because that’s the way I made it. There are no options for him.” The same seems true for Conway and Alessandra.

Boyle unflinchingly portrays his old neighborhood as a dark and perverse place where everything is broken, and people never leave or are inevitably drawn back. It is obvious that he knows this place and these people well. In the best Rocky fashion, Eugene sticks a “yo” on the back of much of what he says. On traveling north along the Hudson, Sweat admits that this was the first time he ever crossed the river. All history revolves not just around the neighborhood but the block.

This is a clever twist on the crime/noir genre wit a few interesting things to say about the insularity of big city neighborhoods. ( )
  ozzer | Dec 31, 2018 |
Really well-developed characters. No false notes. ( )
  mehrgedanken | Mar 10, 2015 |
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It's been sixteen years since "Ray Boy" Calabrese's actions led to the death of a young man. The victim's brother, Conway D'Innocenzio, is now a 29-year-old Brooklynite wasting away at a local Rite Aid, stuck in the past and drawn into a darker side of himself when he hears that Ray Boy's has been released. But even with the perfect plan in place, Conway can't bring himself to take the ultimate revenge.Meanwhile, failed actress Alessandra returns to her native Gravesend after the death of her mother, torn between a desperate need to escape immediately back to LA and the ease with which she sinks back into neighborhood life. Alessandra and Conway are walking eerily similar paths--staring down the rest of their lives, caring for their aging fathers, lost in the youths they squandered--and each must decide what comes next.In the tradition of American noir authors like Dennis Lehane and James Ellroy, William Boyle's Gravesend brings the titular neighborhood to life in this story of revenge, desperation, and escape.

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