Naples, Italy, during four fateful days in the fall of 1943. The only people left in the shattered, bombed-out city are the lost, abandoned children whose only goal is to survive another day. None could imagine that they would become fearless fighters and the unlikeliest heroes of World War II. They are the warriors immortalized in Street Boys, Lorenzo Carcaterra's exhilarating new novel, a book that exceeds even his bestselling Sleepers as a riveting reading experience. It's late September. The war in Europe is almost won. Italy is leaderless, Mussolini already arrested by anti-Fascists. The German army has evacuated the city of Naples. Adults, even entire families, have been marched off to work camps or simply sent off to their deaths. Now, the German army is moving toward Naples to finish the job. Their chilling instructions are: If the city can't belong to Hitler, it will belong to no one. No one but children. Children who have been orphaned or hidden by parents in a last, defiant gesture against the Nazis.
Here is proof that when theres a film deal in the works, publishers will snap up the book and promote it as a literary event. Carcaterra, who landed on the big screen with his New York Times bestseller Sleepers, builds his flimsy tale around a Neapolitan legend describing a 1943 skirmish between armored German occupation forces and local street urchins. In doing so, he draws inspiration from a host of sources ranging from The Secret of Santa Vittoria to Saving Private Ryan. Steve Connors, an American commando cut off from his unit, joins forces with a group of Neapolitan slum children orphaned by the war. The one-dimensional characters and their names could have been taken from a war comic: there is the dutiful Nazi named Von Klaus, who knows that Germany will lose the war, but is determined to follow his orders no matter what; Nunzia, the love interest; even a faithful mastiff who stays by Connorss side throughout. The amateurish writing"especially the dialogue (The Nazis have destroyed Naples, but they have not destroyed us )"seems formatted for quick and easy screen adaptation, weaving cookie-cutter moments together in picturesquely ravaged locales. The reader can almost hear the director shouting, Cue Panzers! ClichE-addled, unconvincing and loaded with ridiculous throwaway lines, this novel will need all the help it can get from the film version. (Sept.) Forecast: The books shortcomings will be more than made up for in marketing: for starters, a six-city author tour, national advertising in major newspapers, national radio advertising and a teaser chapter in the paperback of Gangster. Best of all, perhaps: Barry Levinson is to direct the Warner Bros. film version. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
July 29, 2003
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Street Boys by Lorenzo Carcaterra
45TH THUNDERBIRD INFANTRY DIVISION HEADQUARTERS SALERNO, ITALY.
SEPTEMBER 25, 1943
Captain Edward Anders leaned under the warm shade of a fig tree, a lit Lucky Strike hanging from his lips, and stared down at the beachhead below. His troops had been in the first wave of the attack to capture a city whose name he had never heard before the war. It took the combined forces of American and British troops nine days to advance past the beach and up the side of the sloping mountain where he now stood, smoking the last cigarette in his pack. Behind him, a command post had been set up inside a long series of brown tents. Inside the main tent, there were 3,500 sets of dog tags scattered in four wooden boxes, waiting to be mailed Stateside for eventual delivery to the relatives of the men who had been lost in a fight for sand and rock. Anders stared at the mountains above him, up toward Cassino, then back down toward the city of Naples, and knew there was still a lot of hard fighting left.
"Hey, Cap," a voice behind him said. "Word is you want to see me."
"It was more like an order," Captain Anders said. "But let's not stand on formalities."
Captain Anders turned to look at Corporal Steve Connors as he stood at attention and held his salute, the Gulf of Salerno at his back. Anders brushed away the salute. "From what I've seen, you have as little patience for that shit as I do. Which probably means neither one of us is going to get far in this army."
"I just want to get far enough to go home, Cap," Connors said.
"Will Naples do you in the meantime?" Anders asked.
"What's in Naples?"
"Most likely nothing. From the reports I've seen, the city's already nothing more than a ghost town."
"But still, you want me to go," Connors said.