Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670030293, 304pp.
Publication Date: January 14, 2002
You've never met a politician like Roscoe (or have you?): a suave Falstaffian in a double-breasted white Palm Beach suit, unscrupulous, brilliant, exploding with courtly romance. It's V-J Day, the war's over, and Roscoe, after twenty-six years as chief braintruster of Albany's notorious political machine, decides to quit politics forever. But there's no exit, only new political wars, mysterious death, self-destructive party feuds, and scandalous threats to his beloved and her family.
Roscoe, the chivalrous warrior, turns his own life, and everybody else's, inside out to cope with the erupting disasters and finds fraudulence an extremely effective combat weapon. "Righteousness doesn't stand a chance against the imagination," he concludes. Every step forward leads Roscoe back to the past-to the early loss of his true love, his own peculiar heroics in the First World War, the takeover of city hall, the fight with FDR and Al Smith to elect a governor, and the methodical assassination of gangster Jack (Legs) Diamond.
Roscoe, William Kennedy's seventh novel in his Albany cycle, illuminates the high and low of Albany life between the world wars. It is an odyssey of great scope and linguistic verve, a deadly comic masterpiece from one of America's most important novelists.
"Kennedy's beguiling yarns are the kind of family myths embellished and retold across a kitchen table at night: whiskified, raunchy, darkly funny, tangles of old resentments and fresh exasperations." (Time )
"When Kennedy writes about Albany, New York, he is in fact holding up a mirror to all of American history . . . his fictional terrain can be compared to the Faulknerian South in its complex richness." (The Washington Post)
"Kennedy's power is such that the reader will follow him almost anywhere, to the edge of tragedy and back again to redemption." (The Wall Street Journal)
William Kennedy, author, screenwriter and playwright, was born and raised in Albany, New York. Kennedy brought his native city to literary life in many of his works. The Albany cycle, includes Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, and the Pulitzer Prize winning Ironweed. The versatile Kennedy wrote the screenplay for Ironweed, the play Grand View, and cowrote the screenplay for the The Cotton Club with Francis Ford Coppola. Kennedy also wrote the nonfiction O Albany! and Riding the Yellow Trolley Car. Some of the other works he is known for include Roscoe and Very Old Bones.
Kennedy is a professor in the English department at the State University of New York at Albany. He is the founding director of the New York State Writers Institute and, in 1993, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has received numerous literary awards, including the Literary Lions Award from the New York Public Library, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Governor’s Arts Award. Kennedy was also named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France and a member of the board of directors of the New York State Council for the Humanities.