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Showing 1-2 of 2 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
on December 23, 2002
Young Billy is green and fresh at the book's opening, and a seasoned young man by its end. Early in the book, you eagerly learn with Billy, through his neophyte eyes. But the book and Billy get bogged down in upstate New York, in a slow and sulky movement through time. I yearned for either a faster pace, or to learn more about Billy's inner workings, and felt that Doctorow didn't quite give me enough of either, as the book wore on. I say farewell to Doctorow for now, having liked Ragtime the best of his I've read.
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Billy Bathgate is a young street urchin who attaches himself to Dutch Schultz and his mob & proceeds to narrate Dutch's decline and fall.
I didn't think this one was up to the standard that Doctorow has set in books like Ragtime (see Review) & Waterworks. For one thing, mobsters have been done to death. But more significantly, fiction with the arc of tragedy requires a tragic figure--here, we never like Dutch enough to care that he gets his comeuppance.
GRADE: C
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