Tom & Lucky
(and George & Cokey Flo)
C. Joseph Graves. Bloomsbury, $26 (448p)
In this historical crime novel, Greaves
(Hard Twisted) sets four real-life Jazz
Age figures on a collision course. We
witness Sicilian immigrant Salvatore
Lucania becoming New York mobster
legend Charlie “Lucky” Luciano; Nassau
County lawyer George Morton Levy
growing a reputation for being a peerless
defense attorney; ambitious Thomas E.
Dewey being named special prosecutor
for New York County, with an eye on the
governor’s mansion; and Cokey Flo
Brown, a grifter, madame, and heroin
addict, running a brothel in New York
City. After a long preamble, the story
settles down in 1936, when Dewey tries
to use Cokey Flo’s testimony to bust
Luciano, who hires Levy for his defense.
The novel begins with cinematic scenes
that crisply encapsulate the personalities
of its four main characters. But in
relating so much early mob history, the
a thinking thriller about change and choice
faced in our everyday lives.
A DISCUSSION ABOUT
THE BASIC QUESTIONS OF
LIFE AND PHILOSOPHY...
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A middle-aged widow and mother of two, Leah is
not religious and doesn’t attend church. But God
speaks in mysterious ways, or so Leah claims,
upon emerging from a coma after a devastating
car accident nearly kills her.
Also available for order on
War, So Much War
Mercè Rodoreda, trans. from the Catalan by Maruxa Relano and Martha Tennent.
Open Letter ( openletterbooks.org), $13.95 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-1-940953-22-9
Often considered the most important Catalan novelist of the 20th century, Rodoreda (Death in Spring) explores life during the Spanish Civil War in a unique coming-of-age story. Feeling suffocated
living at home with his parents in Barcelona, Adrià
Guinart runs away with a friend to become a soldier.
However, the pair is quickly separated, and an attack on
the soldier camp leaves Adrià alone and wandering the
woods. He eventually decides to leave the fighting and sets
out on an aimless journey, roaming from village to village,
stumbling into situations that challenge his perception of the world. During his
trip, Adrià often loses himself in the stories of those he meets, and this prompts
him to become more reflective and aware. The young protagonist confronts mortality and witnesses how “the rumblings of war” can reach even remote areas of a
nation, and how those affected can become cruel. Adrià’s memories surface within
his narration, complementing the novel’s quick and fluid structure. The war
described in this book is mostly internal, and the large conflicts are more conceptual—young and old, life and death, present and past. Rodoreda’s dreamy, poetic
prose is served well by Relaño and Tennent’s remarkable translation. A significant
entry among the works in the Catalan language. (Nov.)