About the Book
Marking the debut of a gifted new writer, The Bookmaker teems with humanity, empathy, humor, and insight.
At the heart of Michael J. Agovino's powerful, layered memoir is his family's struggle for success in 1970s, '80s, and '90s New York City—and his father's gambling, which brought them to exhilarating highs and crushing lows. He vividly brings to life the Bronx, a place of texture and nuance, of resignation but also of triumph.
The son of a buttoned-up union man who moonlighted as a gentleman bookmaker and gambler, Agovino grew up in the Bronx's Co-op City, the largest and most ambitious state-sponsored housing development in U.S. history. When it opened, it landed on the front page of The New York Times and in Time magazine, which described it as "relentlessly ugly."
Agovino's Italian American father was determined not to let his modest income and lack of a college education define him, and was dogged in his pursuit of the finer things in life. When the point spreads were on his side, he brought his family to places he only dreamed about in his favorite books and films: the Uffizi, the Tate, the Rijksmuseum; St. Peter's, Chartres, Teotihuacán. With bad luck came shouting matches, unpaid bills, and eviction notices.
The Bookmaker is both a bold, loving portrait of a family and their metropolis and an intimate look into some of the most turbulent decades of New York City. In elegant and soaring prose, it transcends the personal to illuminate the ways in which class distinctions shaped America in the last half of the twentieth century.
“[The Bookmaker] is Mr. Agovino’s debut book. Here’s hoping it won’t be his last. A writer for various publications and Web sites, Mr. Agovino has produced a charming, evocative memoir about growing up a generation ago in Co-op City, the Bronx.” —New York Times
“Mr. Agovino has crafted a sensitive and engrossing memoir. . . . All of the characters in The Bookmaker are extraordinarily vivid, thanks in part to the author’s uncanny ear for the accents and cadences of New Yorkers of every stripe.” —Wall Street Journal
“Michael Agovino brings a gift for capturing urban sounds and symbols and a keen sense of shifting social status to his memoir of growing up in the Bronx.” —Washington Post Book World
“[A] deeply evocative, pitch-perfect memoir of growing up the son of a bookie in Co-op City in the Bronx in the ‘70s and ‘80s.” —Esquire
“A fascinating coming-of-age story, not only of the author and his Italian-American family, but of Co-op City in The Bronx—the title’s utopia—and a compelling story of a dad who had a city job, but also worked as a bookie.” —New York Post
“[A] memoir that’s sensitive, honest, rooted in New York’s least sexy community.” —New York Observer
“The Bookmaker is a family adventure of the highest order. Michael Agovino has the talent to capture the energy and spunk of his Italian American family and the artistry to tell a fast-paced, highly entertaining story. I couldn’t put it down.” —Danielle Trussoni, author of “Falling Through the Earth”
“The book offers a unique portrait of the mutability of class...Agovino strikes a nice balance between the histories of a beloved place and a turbulent family. A generally engrossing narrative of class and mobility in urban America.” —Kirkus Reviews
“For Agovino and his family, life does not build toward a crescendo. It grows exponentially, then subsides, puttering along, waiting for that next spurt. Throughout it all, family is there. A nice story of an individual coping with a unique situation yet always buttressed by family.” —Booklist
“The Bookmaker is both a hilarious, affecting memoir and a loving street-level portrait of a city—the city—during turbulent times. Michael Agovino writes with grace, confidence, originality, and above all, a natural feel for the rhythm of New York and the one-of-kind characters it produces.” —Jonathan Mahler, bestselling author of “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning”
“The Bookmaker is socially panoramic in the vein of John Dos Passos, displaying relish for all walks of life. In telling the debt-defying adventures of his family, Agovino has composed a New York City classic.” —Will Blythe, author of “To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever”
- ISBN: 9780061982804
- ISBN 10: 0061982806
- Imprint: HarperCollins e-books
- On Sale: 06/10/2009
- Pages: 368
- List Price: 15.99 AUD