Demons and Desire Clash
An exclusive Authorlink AUDIO interview
December 2011 Authorlink Edition
Play Audio Interview (about 19 minutes)
Critically acclaimed author and Wall Street Journal rock and pop critic Jim Fusilli nearly quit as a novelist. But his newest work, NARROWS GATE (AmazonEncore; November 2011), has earned high praise from both his peers and the reading public.
Challenging himself to re-invent his craft after five successful thrillers, Fusilli has achieved the distinctiveness he desperately craved with the release of his very different sixth novel.
The epic work follows three men as their lives intersect with the dangerous and seductive power of the mob in a gritty Italian-American neighborhood in the shadow of Manhattan (a fictionalized Hoboken) during the first half of the 20th century.
Narrows Gate, NJ is a dangerous and corrupt city run by brutal gangsters and crooked officials. Sal Benno is a neighborhood kid who has never cared much for school, but has always been fascinated by the local wise guys. His best friend, Leo Bell, is quite the oppositea terrific student with a bright future ahead of him, he cant wait to escape Narrows Gate and its Mafia ties. When Sal starts doing favors for local gangsters, Leo fears for his friends safety as these new connections make him privy to dangerous and incriminating information. As Sal gets pulled into the Mafias inner circle, Leo sticks by him, all the while harboring a dangerous secret that could either keep Sal aliveor bring his life to an abrupt end. In the middle of it all is Billy Bebe Marsala, a hugely popular and handsome crooner, hell bent on success and fame. Originally from Narrows Gate, the Mafia has always had a hand in his career, but when a mob war breaks out with Bebe caught between factions, his fate, and that of Sal and Leo, hang in the balance.
Jim Fusilli grew up in Hoboken and learned about the mob as a kid through hearing stories in the neighborhood and later, from his work as a Teamster. Hoboken was a rough town back then and I was a Teamster while I was in college, Fusilli says. The guys I worked with told stories of their childhood, which is the era in which much of the action of NARROWS GATE takes place. They gave me a sense of what it was like.
A novel that rekindles the spirit of such groundbreaking works as Mario Puzos The Godfather and Budd Schulbergs On the Waterfront, NARROWS GATE is an expansive and vivid read that explores the inner workings of an East Coast mob and how it influences the societal culture around it.
Praise from well-known authors:
Narrows Gate is as tender as it is tough, a big-hearted story in which love and violence conspire to control the lives of people who very quickly become real. Jim Fusilli writes with urgency and grace, and his is a compelling, gritty, and brilliant voice. I loved it!
Jim Fusillis Narrows Gate is a big, broad-shouldered novel, equal parts Ellroy, Puzo, and Scorsese. Fusilli, a critical and fan favorite, further elevates his game with this thrilling, ambitious performance.
Outstanding in every way.
In this intimate interview, Jim talks about having felt lost until he re-invented his craft, about overcoming a tendency to do things the easy way, and of the importance of thinking of the reader above everything else.
This post was written by Doris Booth