I'm about a third-of-the-way into Josh Bazell's first novel, Beat the Reaper, and it's been fun so far. This week New York magazine has an interview with Bazell here:
Where did you get the idea for the book?
I wanted to explore the extent to which somebody can change himself. And I felt I might have something to say about the Mafia that hadn’t been said before.
I’ve read lots of Mafia memoirs, this sort of repulsive subgenre where people who’ve gone into witness protection write tell-alls in which they claim to be ashamed of their former lives yet can’t stop bragging about them. In books and on TV, the mob tends to be either a sort of omnipotent conspiracy or a bunch of lovable doofuses who do petty crime. I love The Godfather, but the idea that somebody like Don Corleone sits around granting favors is clearly inaccurate. The favor is that if you pay them 60 percent, they don’t break your legs.
I'll try to follow-up with a proper review when I'm finished. And by proper, I mean short and to the point.