The second you hear Joe Barrett’s voice in Narrow’s Gate, you know you’re in for a treat, especially since the novel was written especially for audio performance. Barrett has a gravely, world-weary voice that is perfectly suited for gritty, urban crime novels. His voice has a seen-it-all quality to it, and even when he sounds jaded and cynical, you can hear hints of compassion for the flawed characters he’s portraying, as they try to do the right thing. This versatile quality surely explains why John Irving personally selected Barrett to perform his gripping, complex novel A Prayer for Owen Meany.
And while Barrett does an excellent job narrating Narrow’s Gate, the dialogue of this sweeping Mafia saga set in a New Jersey seaport literally and figuratively in the shadow of Manhattan springs to life thanks to actor Joe Pantoliano. Best known for The Sopranos and The Matrix, Pantoliano has long been a highly sought-after character actor, the kind of actor who completely disappears into a role. This unselfish approach to acting works perfectly in Narrow’s Gate since Pantoliano speaks for dozens of different characters and uses his entire vocal range. It also helps that Pantoliano grew up in Hoboken, NJ, and knows first-hand that piercing, aggressive, staccato tone made famous by many Jersey boys.
The characters in Narrow’s Gate cover a wide spectrum. There are the inseparable lifelong friends, Sal Benno and Leo Bell, who gradually take different paths in life with dramatic consequences. There’s also Bill “Bebe” Marsala, a singing sensation who sends girls into hysterics much like the real-life Hoboken crooner Frank Sinatra did decades ago. Everyone from the local Mafia to Bebe’s own power-hungry mother wants a piece of the crooner, and they use him for their own selfish needs.
Fans of classic Mafioso sagas like The Godfather will appreciate the epic sweep of Narrow’s Gate, and the thrilling performance by two accomplished actors working at the top of their game. And like many novelists who carefully craft fictionalized versions of the their hometowns, Fusilli knows the streets of his hometown of Hoboken like the back of his hand and makes you feel like you’re right there in the middle of all the pulse-racing action of Narrow’s Gate. Ken Ross
Audible is pleased to present the exciting novel Narrows Gate by Jim Fusilli, written exclusively for audio and performed by Emmy Award-winning actor Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos) and acclaimed narrator Joe Barrett (A Prayer for Owen Meany).
A powerful epic novel in the spirit of The Godfather and On the Waterfront, Narrows Gate follows the lives of three men in the dangerous and seductive environment of a Mob-riddled New Jersey waterfront town before, during, and after World War II.
For Sal Benno, an errand here and a favor there draw him into the Mafia’s inner circle – and certain danger. His lifelong friend, Leo Bell, hides a deep secret as he informs on the Mob for the Feds – and desperately tries to protect Sal. Their fates become intertwined with that of a skinny crooner, Bill “Bebe” Marsala, who finds fame beyond his imagining – but who becomes an unwitting pawn in a Mob war.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jim Fusilli, the Pop and Rock Music Critic for the Wall Street Journal, is the author of the critically-acclaimed Terry Orr crime series, among other books. He was the project editor and a contributing writer for the Audible Original projects The Chopin Manuscript and The Copper Bracelet. He was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, a place very much like Narrows Gate.
ABOUT THE NARRATORS:
Joe Pantoliano is best known for his Emmy Award-winning role as Ralph Cifaretto on The Sopranos and as Cypher in The Matrix. Joe is the founder of a non-profit organization, No Kidding, Me Too!, which works with the Hollywood community to educate the public about mental illness. He, too, grew up in Hoboken.
Joe Barrett’s memorable audiobook performances include John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, and Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King.
©2010 Jim Fusilli (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"Outstanding in every way -- major talent, voice, feel, and been-there knowledge meets a story as tough and complex as the time that inspired it." (Lee Child)
"Narrows Gate is as tender as it is tough, a big-hearted story in which love and violence conspire to control the lives of people who very quickly become real. Jim Fusilli writes with urgency and grace, and his is a compelling, gritty, and brilliant voice. I loved it!" (Lisa Scottoline)
"Narrows Gate is the expansive novel that Jim Fusilli's readers have been waiting for -- a broad canvas full of vivid characters, hard choices, and steeped in the post-war experience. Fusilli's take of the men who run the mob and those who can't escape its pull -- including a familiar and iconic crooner -- is, at its heart, a uniquely American tale of ambition and failure, of people who underplay their hands and those who overstep their bounds. It is, in short, a dazzling novel by a great writers at the height of his powers." (David Liss)
"Jim Fusilli's Narrows Gate is a big, broad-shouldered novel, equal parts Ellroy, Puzo, and Scorsese. Fusilli, a critical and fan favorite, further elevates his game with this thrilling, ambitious performance." (George Pelecanos)
A fantastic combination of a well-constructed storyline and riveting narration.
Joe Pantoliano and Joe Barret compliment each wonderfully. Joe P is capable of portraying a wide variety of believable characters while Joe B interjects the gritty background for added affect.
This story transports the listener to a time long-ago with all the intrigue of organized crime, greed and avarice. I can't wait for Jim Fusilli's next effort. I hope that he and the two Joe's collaborate again real soon. I didn't want the story to end the characters are so realistic!
Alpaca farmer, gardener, poet. Loves reading & listening to books, music, writing, and learning. Life is good!
I enjoyed this book because I'm a fan of the mobster story genre and the plot, even with its familiar characters (Bebe/Frank Sinatra) held my interest. The narrator did an excellent job, but the character's voices....sorry, "Joey Pants," but I think too much may have been expected of you. In the second half, it was hard to distinguish who was saying what, and it sounded more than phony. One person trying to make so many characters sound authentic was a bit of a stretch. It took me nearly a month to listen to the entire book. I think if I had read it instead of listened to it, I would have been up all night.
This is a very well written story of the early years of organized crime in the US and, if I'm not mistaken, a pseudo-biography of Frank Sinatra. Half way thru the book I had to go to Wikipedia and look up Frank's real biography and the lead character's life in this book was nearly identical except for it's ending. Both narrators did a good job, tho the somewhat "over the top" portrayal of the Italian accents was distracting. I definitely felt it was worth a credit.
I thought the subject matter might be too rough for me to truly enjoy. I was pleasantly surprized. It was interesting from beginning to end. I am looking forward to the sequel.
It took me a an hour to get into the book and then i found myself driving home and not remembering how i got there. I loved this book i hope you do too.
I agree with some of the comments from previous reviewers that occassionally the Italian voices were difficult to hear or understand. But they were in character and it wasn't difficult to figure out what they were saying. The story was well written and kept me engaged throughout the story.
This book shows how the mafia controlled things in the past to the present. Great read.
I think I'll skip Fusilli next time. The story goes on and on without really developing plot or characters. Disappointing.
Sometimes they overdo the Italian accent, like cartoon characters, but their narration kept the story going.
No. It's probably more suitable for a TV series, like the Sopranos.
Typical cat lady: lazy, sings off-key, craves spicy bloody marys.
Loved the narration by both Joes (although some of Joey Pants' characters are crazy sounding) but the writing is fairly trite...nothing new here and nothing surprising. Joe Pantoliano's range varies from an intriguing sexy woman to a shrewish mother to notorious gangsters and Joe Barrett's soothing storytelling narration kept the story moving forward. Twas ok but not great. On to a new book!
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