Curator Reviews

Billy Bathgate

As a book, Billy Bathgate is often riveting; as a character he is fully alive, as if eyeing the reader across the room. You might think you were reading a memoir--a sleight of hand that Doctorow perfected. He is fascinated with hubris, with the con man, with the muck of life, and also with moments of reprieve that reflect the best instincts of America. Doctorow was born in 1931 so this book, set in that era, feels like an homage to the city that nurtured the writer's childhood.