Thursday, January 7, 2021

Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow - BOOK BEGINNINGS and THE FRIDAY 56



Welcome to Book Beginnings on Fridays, where we share the first sentence or so of the book we are enjoying this week. You can play along on your own blog, social media, or in the comments below.

If you post on your blog or social media, please link to your post in the linky below. Please link to your BBOF post not your home page or social media profile. If you want to participate in the comments, just leave a comment with the opening sentence of the book, along with the title and author's name. 

If you post or share on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag so we can find each other. 


I'm making a big effort -- a bigger effort than usual -- to clear off my TBR shelves in 2021. With that goal in mind, I'm reading Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow this week because it has been on my TBR shelf for as long as I can remember. 

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.

Wow! That is quite a shaggy opening sentence. It's an entire story in itself. Billy Bathgate won the 1989 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 1990 PEN/Faulkner Award

I didn't care for Ragtime, even though most people love it, so I put this one off. But I'm now halfway through and enjoying it very much. Ragtime bugged me because it seemed to me a bucket of historic facts dumped out and then strung together like beads by the story. Although Billy Bathgate is based on the criminal history of New York gangster Dutch Schultz, it is a solid, cohesive story.


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TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.


From Billy Bathgate

It surprised me that someone that physically unfortunate would want to dress sharply. His trousers were pulled up so high by his suspenders that he seemed not to have any chest.

Doctorow is a good storyteller. He spins a yarn so you can picture everything precisely. 

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