CRUMBTOWN by Joe Connelly


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The worst town in the world starts to seem like not such a bad place after all.

Second-novelist Connelly (Bringing Out the Dead, 1998) rips the lid off another simmering stew of malcontented urbanites, his prose leaping off from the opening line (“Don Reedy was a boy so briefly he often forgot it happened”) and barely taking a breath thereafter. Don Reedy is a sad-luck loser: in just ten pages he goes from bad car thief to feloniously bad driver to mafia lackey to stickup man—with generous dollops of jail time between each ill-advised career move. Cut to the present, and Reedy’s been paroled in order to serve as technical adviser on a new TV show being shot in his home city of Crumbtown—a falling-apart East Coast burg. The show is loosely based on the exploits that most recently landed Reedy in jail: a series of bank robberies in which Reedy and his cohorts were famous for throwing cash into the air afterward and creating mass hysteria in the streets outside the banks. Of course, his first day on the set, Reedy falls in love. Rita is a hard-bitten Russian waitress with a psychotic husband she’s been trying to leave for years—who’s fallen for Reedy as well. Complicating Reedy’s life on the set are Tim and Tom, a pair of drunks who bungled most of Reedy’s bank jobs and now manage to stumble idiotically into trouble on just about every other page. Connelly’s junky auto prose—it rattles along endearingly—sings out from every page of this broken-down dream of a book. The men are laughably pathetic, the women are tougher than nails, and the characters have an amazing propensity for getting run over by old cars.

A mournfully funny ode to the worst in everybody: “It wasn’t a race thing; it wasn’t a religion thing; it was a crumb thing.”

Pub Date: March 17th, 2003
ISBN: 0-375-41364-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2003