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Would you consider the audio edition of Billy Bathgate to be better than the print version?
Yes - definitely.. I read several reviews of the print version on Amazon before getting this. It appears the print novel lacks punctuation in places, making it difficult to read. The narrator M. Deakins helps us out by interpreting the prose and making it easier to hear the story than to read it. Sometimes a novelist uses missing punctuation or excessive run on sentences to set the mood for the reader. Well, I don't want to be driven crazy by reading a book and trying to guess where a pause should be inserted.
Sometimes - like with Billy Bathgate, the Narrator helps us enjoy the book more than if we were faced with reading it and getting frustrated by having to decipher the prose.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Otto Berman is my favorite character in this story. He appears to take a true interest in educating Billy in the knowledge of being a gang member, tutoring him, but not taking advantage of him. Kind of a Fagin father figure.
What does Mark Deakins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Oh yes. Definitely - see my response to the audio version being better than the print version above. Plus Mark Deakins is able to change Billy's voice at times, properly representing not only his mood, but also his maturity. For example, just the way Deakins has Billy say the word "Yes". It sounds silly, but in just the way Deakins has Billy say that one word he is able to convey innocence and immaturity.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Doctrow does a great job with the erotic scenes between Billy and Lola/Drew.
Also the final scene with Dutch and the mob with Billy is particularly graphic and well written - so much so - I could see it happen in my mind.
Any additional comments?
This is the first time I've gone back and re-listened to the book after finishing it the first time. I'm glad I did. Doctrow is a master of prose - and is able to convey hidden meanings in the verbiage that does not detract from the story telling - but like a great painting - you have to sometimes know where to look or how to look at a section to understand (or think you understand).
I leave you with one haunting question....Was Hines Billy's father? And did Dutch know it - and if so, when did he know it?
I'm sorry for one thing - that Doctrow has a limited number of novels, and I've almost gone through them all. :(
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Doctorow died in July 2015, so I checked my records to see what books of his I had read and was surprised to find the only book I had read was “Ragtime”. It is a funny feeling; I could have sworn I had read “Billy Bathgate”. Now I have another reading project, which is to read all of Doctorow’s books.
“Billy Bathgate” is Doctorow’s eighth novel (1989). The story won the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction in 1990 and the National Book Critics Award in 1989.
The book takes place in the 1930s New York. Billy is a 15 year old high school dropout living by his wits in the Bronx. Billy is athletic and adept at juggling. He worked his way into the Dutch Schultz gang and is eventually taken on as a protégé by Dutch and his bookkeeper Berman. The story takes place during the decline of Dutch Schultz and his gang after the repeal of prohibition. As a horse person I enjoyed the part when they went to the races and horse action at Saratoga Springs.
The book is well written. It is in the first person narrative of Billy. Doctorow sent me to the dictionary a few times. The book is a historical novel. I had forgotten what a gift of language Doctorow had. Mark Beakins narrated the book.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful