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Rodriguez also excels at bringing to life Alfredo Batista, the good-hearted, street-smart, Mets-loving, 19-year-old drug dealer whose mind races a mile a minute worrying about everything that could go wrong in his life. And Alfredo has reason to be worried. Thanks to the misinformed advice of a friend, Alfredo has accidently double-crossed the wrong drug dealer. Now, he has to try to stay one step ahead of a Russian mobster. But perhaps the greatest threat to Alfredo’s life lies right within his own family. That’s because his brother Jose now known as Tariq since becoming a Muslim has just returned from prison. And Jose’s ex girlfriend, Isabel, is eight months pregnant with Alfredo’s child. In an effort to get on his brother’s good side, Alfredo holds a dogfight to celebrate Jose’s homecoming, which coincides with the Mets-Yankees game that has everyone wondering if the Mets will retaliate against Yankees’ pitcher Roger Clemens for pegging Mets’ catcher Mike Piazza with the ball the year before.
Dogfight is reminiscent of a less violent, funnier version of Richard Price’s Clockers. And Fans of Spike Lee’s masterpiece Do The Right Thing will also appreciate the way Rodriguez slowly builds each scene in this urban fable towards its dramatic conclusion. Insightful, vibrant, and engaging Dogfight stands on its own and delivers a memorable tale of love and revenge that vividly brings to life the vibrant streets of Queens, New York. Ken Ross
Alfredo Batista has some worries. Okay, a lot of worries. His older brother, Jose—sorry, Tariq—is returning from a stretch in prison after an unsuccessful robbery, a burglary that Alfredo was supposed to be part of. So now everyone thinks Alfredo snitched on his brother, which may have something to do with the fact that Alfredo is now dating Tariq’s ex-girlfriend, Isabel, who is eight months pregnant. Tariq’s violent streak is probably #1 worry on Alfredo’s list.
Also, he needs to steal a pit bull. For the homecoming dogfight.
Burgess brings to life the rich and vivid milieu of his hometown native Queens in all its glorious variety. Here is the real New York, a place where Pakistanis, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, An glos, African Americans, and West Indians scrap and mingle and love. But the real star here is Burgess’s incredible ear for language—the voices of his characters leap off the page in riotous, spot-on dialogue. The outer boroughs have their own language, where a polite greeting is fraught with menace, and an insult can be the expression of the most tender love.
With a story as intricately plotted as a Shakespearean comedy—or revenge tragedy, for that matter—and an electrically col loquial prose style, Dogfight, a Love Story establishes Matt Burgess as an exuberant new voice in contemporary literature. The great Queens novel has arrived.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Brandon Cole on 02-19-15
Dogfight fights for my attention, and wins
I can't fault this book for not being what I was looking for at the time. I read this author's later work, Uncle Janice, first, and that is an almost completely different experience. Dogfight is a gritty, character driven tale, and is all the better because there is no perfect hero here. Every character has their flaws. The writing is great, and the narrator fits the story well.
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