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Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow
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Billy Bathgate (1989)

by E. L. Doctorow

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English (18)  Finnish (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Billy Bathgate is the story of Billy's adolescence, told by Billy himself. He grows up just after Prohibition in a New York neighborhood where a local gangster, Dutch Schultz, operates. He ends up working for Schultz for a year or so and learns a lot about the world in the process.

Doctorow vexes me. This is the third book I've read by him, and I've figured out that you can never know what to expect from one of his novels because they're all totally different. The first book I read (World's Fair) was fine. Not great, not bad, just a decent read. The second book (Welcome to Hard Times) I almost stopped reading midway through the first chapter (and I never do that) because it was just too brutally violent. I really didn't want to experience something that horrible. However, after the first chapter, the worst stuff was over, and it turned into a decent novel about how the survivors dealt with what happened. And now the third book also started with some bad violence (although not as bad as in Welcome to Hard Times), and I thought it would be contained to just the beginning. A lot of it was, but there were some pretty harsh events throughout the book (I guess I should have expected as much from gangsters.)

Shelfari recommended rating system is based on how much you liked the book instead of how good the book is, so I have to give it two stars, even though it's a good book. I just didn't like it. In addition to the content, the paragraphs were too long and some of the sentences were confusing. I found myself reading quickly just so I could be done with it, and that didn't help with my understanding at all. There's also a lot written between the lines here, and I missed most of it, so I probably missed the best parts of the book. I tried to find an online study guide to help me out, but I didn't have any luck finding one.

I'm sure Doctorow is a great author, if for no other reason than because he can write such totally different books that are all good. However, this one just wasn't my cup of tea. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
I am done! This is the fourth time I have tried to read Billy Bathgate since I received it as the book of the month from QPBC in 1989. Kidding I am not! I know Doctorow is an esteemed writer. The fault is no doubt with me. I can live with that. This is just not the book for me. Moving on. For good this time.
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
I am done! This is the fourth time I have tried to read Billy Bathgate since I received it as the book of the month from QPBC in 1989. Kidding I am not! I know Doctorow is an esteemed writer. The fault is no doubt with me. I can live with that. This is just not the book for me. Moving on. For good this time.
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
I am done! This is the fourth time I have tried to read Billy Bathgate since I received it as the book of the month from QPBC in 1989. Kidding I am not! I know Doctorow is an esteemed writer. The fault is no doubt with me. I can live with that. This is just not the book for me. Moving on. For good this time.
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
As a reader opens the pages of "Billy Bathgate" they are taken back to the days of prohibition and notorious gangsters.

One of those famous gangsters wi Dutch Schultz. He befriends Billy and becomes a father-like figure to the fifteen-year-old boy. Shultz who was born in the Bronx in 1901 built his criminal network from bootlegging, gambling and murder.

Billy lives with his mom in a run down area of Lenox Ave and 125th street. He had no father and no direction in life. He comes to idolize Schultz from his power, the way he's revered in the community and by many of New York jet setters.

There are many shady characters in the story. The reader gets to share some of the words of Walter Winchell and hear Schultz's remarks of Thomas E. Dewey.

Schultz has a girlfriend and Billy spends a great deal of time with her she is much of the reason for his sexual awakening.

I enjoyed the story and look back into a time that many of our parents and grandparents enjoyed. Their stories may be gone but in this story, some of the events of that time are brought to life once more.

The characters are well developed and become likable in their own way. It is particularly fun to witness the Jewish Schultz conversion to Catholicism as nears his trial date and he attempts to build a good-guy image. ( )
  mikedraper | Jun 22, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
E. L. Doctorowprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deakins, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toorn, Willem vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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He had to have planned it because when we drove onto the dock the boat was there and the engine was running and you could see the water churning up phosphorescence in the river, which was the only light there was because there was no moon, nor no electric light either in the shack where the dockmaster should have been sitting, nor on the boat itself, and certainly not from the car, yet everyone knew where everything was, and when the big Packard came down the ramp Mickey the driver braked it so that the wheels hardly rattled the boards, and when he pulled up alongside the gangway the doors were already open and they hustled Bo and the girl upside before they even made a shadow in all that darkness.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394525299, Hardcover)

In the Bronx of the 1930s, 15-year-old Billy Bathgate hooks up with a legendary mobster, Dutch Schultz. Schultz becomes an unlikely surrogate parent to the boy, introducing him to the ways of the world and training Billy to follow in his footsteps. After Billy falls for Schulz's latest girlfriend, he begins to question the actions of the mob he was so eager to join. As he seeks to protect the young woman, he gains strength in following his own heart and makes a courageous passage from boyhood to adulthood. E.L Doctorow won the 1990 PEN/Faulkner Award for this novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The story of Billy Bathgate, a boy who has insinuated himself into the inner circle of the notorious Dutch Schultz gang to become apprentice and protege to one of the great murdering gangsters.

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