WHO IS LOU SCIORTINO? by Ottavio Cappellani


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Who’s the boss? That’s the real question as two generations of Mafiosi tangle in Sicily.

Sicilian journalist Cappellani’s peppery debut brings a distinctively Italian perspective to bear on his tale of goombahs and compare. The eponymous hero, hot-tempered grandson and namesake of Brooklyn-born Don Lou, mostly serves to provide entry to a rogue’s gallery of other mobsters, all with their own tics and eccentricities. Young Lou is introduced in a stylish second-person narration that envelops the multifaceted plot like an onionskin. His farcical adventure unfolds at breakneck pace via negotiations and missteps in the back rooms and bar rooms of Sicily and New York. Don Lou is happy to have his grandson quietly laundering money by making exploitation films like Plastic Love for his front, Starship Pictures, until a bomb explodes in the screenwriting department. The old man decides to protect Lou by sending him to Sicily, where local chieftains recruit him to fix the problematic murder of a police sergeant in Catania. Lou is caught between the machinations of old-school killers like Don “Uncle Sal” Scali, and the ambitions of up-and-coming eurotrash like Armani-decked musician Nick Palumbo and Sal’s nephew Tony, a none-too-bright clotheshorse whose greatest joy is his garish hair salon. Cappellani references the Mafia canon with abandon, including direct allusions to The Godfather, The Sopranos and, of course, Martin Scorsese films. But he also brings a zesty postmodern attitude to his contemporary bloodbath, punctuating scenes of cinematic violence with staccato conversations laced enthusiastically with profane outbursts in three languages. By the time Don Lou comes calling, the escalating mayhem has killers quoting Hobbes: “Homo homini lupus. In other words, if we can’t get along, we cut each other’s throats!”

A hip and funny take on mob warfare, with very little gusto lost in translation.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-374-28981-2
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2007


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