Thursday, 22 December 2011

Book #92 Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi


Wiseguy is the book upon which the Martin Scorcese 1990 movie Goodfellas is based. At the time journalist/biographer Pileggi, believed himself the foremost authority on the members of the mob, and when asked to interview Henry Hill could find only a small index card with a brief listing, but Henry Hill was a much bigger fish than Pileggi's records showed

The film Goodfellas, Henry Hill's biography gives us the line "As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be  a gangster" Wiseguy also begins with Hill's early years when as a schoolboy he began working for the Vario family who were part of the larger Lucchese crime family. He began parking cars, making pizza, and fetching sandwiches, before progressing on to arson, protection rackets, heists and eventually murder and drugs. He did it all, and knew everybody, and so when things began to sour became the ultimate liability.

So often books get lost in translation to the big screen but Goodfellas which I watched before I read the book is possibly one of the most faithful adaptations I've ever seen with the script often quoting the book verbatim. Pileggi must have been proud of that, and he himself was involved in the script. What this meant for me as a reader however was that it occasionally felt like a re-tread of what I'd seen on screen. I would advise those who have not seen Goodfellas, to the read the book if they are so inclined, first.

The other problem I had with the book is that the crimes themselves are somewhat repetitious, which gets a little boring at times. What remains flabbergasting though is how cavalier these people were about their crimes, their behaviour, to them, was completely normal, and normal hardworking guys were in their minds idiots. When Hill was arrested only two pieces of paper existed to say that he ever existed, his birth certificate and his police arrest sheet.

I enjoyed reading Wiseguy because I really, really loved Goodfellas, but, there was not enough new content for me 7/10

*Thanks to Chris for lending me this book*

No comments:

Post a Comment