Saturday, October 13, 2018

26. Rapt in Glory by Edwin Silberstang

I can't even remember where I found this book.  I was very hesitant to read it as it seemed like it had never even been opened before, the sides were so firm and straight.  It was published in 1964.  In the end, I reminded myself that despite the physical beauty of these paperbacks, they were ultimately written and produced to be read and so that's what I did.

The story takes place in New York City in 1950 and follows a few different characters around the main story arc leading up to a hold-up of a pharmacy in Brooklyn and the aftermath.  The main characters are a struggling attorney living at home with his bitter wife, his disaffected war hero younger brother, a resentful two-bit bruiser and an up-and-coming detective.  The first three are Italian and very much of their neighbourhood, while the cop is an Irishman.  Ethnicity is big in this book.  The casual racism seems very realistic, though jarring for the modern reader.  It's the younger brother who is the focal point of the story.  He saw serious action and is clearly suffering from it, but it takes a while for the reader to find out the details.  He is the one who plans the robbery.

This is a really solid, well-written book, actually quite great in parts.  People are pretty poor in this book and don't have a lot of options and you really feel it.  The writing style is steady, with lots of attention to detail that never feels superfluous.  Once it got moving, I had a hard time putting it down.  It lost a bit of its steam in the final section, which focuses on a trial and I guessed the final supposed surprise ending.  Still, a really solid moving book and a fantastic portrayal of New York City as it transitioned into the social change of the '60s.

Did a quick search on Edwin Silberstang and turns out he was best known for his books on gambling but most proud of his fiction, which based at least on this book (his first), he should have been.  This is why I keep doing this!

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