Monday, February 06, 2012

Books: Matt Lavelle, Tom Piccirilli

New York City Subway Drama, And BeyondNew York City Subway Drama, And Beyond by Matt Lavelle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Musician and philosopher Matt Lavelle collects his posts for various blogs over the past couple of years in this very interesting and insightful book. Alternately funny, sad and thoughtful, Lavelle runs the gamut of emotions as he describes in vivid detail living a day to day life navigating the New York City transit system. Using the transport as a model, his discusses life and the madness that can sometimes ensue living in New York City. He also describes his life as a working musician, trying to scrape by playing avant-garde jazz while working at Tower Records and the Sam Ash music store. After describing studying with the great saxophonist Ornette Coleman, the final section of the book contains heartfelt and thoughtful tributes to musicians who have influenced him, like Eric Dolphy, Clifford Brown and Paul Gonsalves. Lavelle writes in an engaging "from the heart" style, taking liberties with grammar and syntax like an expressionist he develops his own unique and engaging style of storytelling. His observations are thoughtful and validate his attentive intimate knowledge of New York City's life and music. New York City Subway Drama, And Beyond -

Headstone CityHeadstone City by Tom Piccirilli

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When army veteran Dane aka Johnny Danetello is released from prison after a two-year stint, surviving attempts on his life after being held responsible for the death of a mob bosses daughter, he knows his life will be a fight to survive when he returns to his old stomping grounds, a section of Brooklyn known as Headstone City. Upon release, the mob turns up the heat, trying to take Dane out at every turn. Taking a job with a limo company, Dane drives the neighborhood, living with his grandmother while he tries to figure out how to bring the confrontation to a conclusion. The Brooklyn mob is falling apart at the seams and their attempts on his life are futile. Dane was close to the mafia family before the death of the daughter and now his former best friend Vinny has become his arch enemy. But he and Vinny are linked in more ways than one - as young men they were involved in a serious car crash that left them both with head trauma, and a glimpse into the unknown. Dane is now able to perceive the ghosts and spirits that surround him, while Vinny experiences himself in three different parallel realities. This touch of the supernatural adds a slight element of horror to the book, and psychological drama to the narrative. As the clock ticks down and Dane moves toward the final confrontation, the plot quickens to a feverish and unexpected conclusion. This thriller combines the traditional crime novel with elements of supernatural horror. Tom Piccirilli melds these elements deftly and uses the supernatural scenes to further define parts of Dane's complex character. This was a very well done story, and the descriptions of Brooklyn were particularly evocative, with the claustrophobic neighborhood setting intensifying the feeling of the narrative. Headstone City -

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