The Good Family Fitzgerald, Joseph Di Prisco, Rare Bird Books, 2020, 404 pp
I have set myself a challenge to read the remaining novels I received this year from my Nervous Breakdown Book Club subscription. The number of books for this challenge is five. The Good Family Fitzgerald, the May selection, was lingering on my shelves because it is long, so I tackled it just after Thanksgiving. All 404 pages of fairly tiny print.
I had not heard of the author, though he has published five previous novels since 2000, as well as 3 poetry collections. He is 70 years old and active in education and literacy projects. In his interview on the Otherppl podcast, he relates the ways in which this novel is based on his own life.
I'll get the negatives out of the way first: the length, the wordiness, the style. Reading the book was like listening to your 70 year old uncle telling tales of the family when you are about 20 yourself. He is a bit out of step with the times though trying to stay relevant. He adds in sentences, whole paragraphs, sometimes pages of anecdotes and details that slow the story down.
The positives: This is a great sprawling family saga about the Irish in late 20th and early 21st century America. The combination of gangsters, lawyers and priests, all in the same family, is provocative and I must say entertaining. Paddy Fitzgerald, the patriarch, has his influence spread across business, real estate and the Catholic Church, all mixed up in a heady if shady stew.
I finally got to the end and was so pleased to find the females saving the day! Mostly I was happy to get to the end though not unhappy to have read it.