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Why Paterson?: Lost Empress by Sergio de la Pava

10 Oct

Why Paterson? That’s what I asked Sergio de la Pava, author of Lost Empress, after the reading from his new novel he gave at Watchung Bookstore last May. I was thrilled to be able to see one of my literary idols and have him autograph my copy of the book.

He explained (and I am paraphrasing) that he admired Paterson for being a sort of hard luck manufacturing town that fell on hard times, but was gritting it out. He mentioned the long list of famous writers associated with Paterson (Allen Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, and many others), and of course, he said, the Falls. The Paterson Falls figures prominently in the plot of Lost Empress.

The plot is an over-the-top, laugh out loud hilarious concoction that centers on Nina Gill, the daughter of the Dallas Cowboys owner, who is disinherited from managing the team, and decides to take on the challenge of running an AAA football team, the Patterson Pork. The justice system also figures prominently, with Nuno DeAngeles, a brilliant criminal, stuck for the moment in Rikers.

And de la Pava knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. His day job is working as a public defender in the New York City Corrections department.

There is also a heady and wide ranging dose of popular culture involved (Joni Mitchell, emergency medicine, physics, and much much more), and an opening scene set in a bar in our fair city, Hoboken.

For another look at Paterson, you can watch the movie Paterson, starring Adam Driver as a bus driver named Paterson who works in Paterson. Paterson is a poet, and this quiet movie is a remembrance of all that Paterson (the city) is famous for.

You can also checkout Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart, a historical mystery set in Paterson in 1914.  Paterson Great Falls: From Local Landmark to National Historical Park by Marcia Dente looks at the history of town through its famous falls.  You can view historic photographs in Paterson compiled by Philip M. Read.

Paterson Falls

Paterson Falls Photograph by Victoria Turk

Written by:
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian



Believe It?: Bluff, The Great Swindle, and The Confidence Game

3 Jul

If you love to be fooled, or just admire a good scam, I have a handful of books that might appeal to you.

By Michael Kardos
Bluff by Michael Kardos is set in various locales in New Jersey (Rahway, Highlands, Atlantic City, and more), but that’s just incidental to the story. The plot involves Natalie Webb, a prestidigitator magician (as opposed to the big trick guys like David Blaine, Penn and Teller, etc.) who is not quite making ends meet. After a disastrous performance, she finds herself in need of some cash, and decides to write an article about the art of cheating at cards. In looking for a good subject for her story, she finds herself using her magic skills to assist in a major poker scam.

You don’t have to know about poker to follow the action. Turns out the art of cheating at cards is more than a mere mechanical skill set. It involves a lot of psychology as well. Things don’t go as planned. Trouble ensues.

The suspense and fast pace make this a good summer read.  You can borrow it in print from the Hoboken Public Library or our resident patrons can check it out from Hoopla.

Great Swindle
by Pierre Lemaitre
Great Swindle
If you are in the mood for bigger scams with a historical background, you may enjoy The Great Swindle, by Pierre Lemaitre.

The story involves Albert and Edouard, damaged veterans of World War I who find their country’s gratitude for their service to be wanting. They devise a scheme to take money for war memorials that will never be constructed.

Meanwhile, their former Lieutenant who was responsible for their terrible injuries is running a scam of his own.

It is fascinating to see how these three lives intersect and you’ll be racing to the finish to learn what happens. It was also fascinating to learn about the historical precedent for one of these scams. My only quibble with this excellent book was a little too convenient coincidence that is involved toward the end of the novel.

The Confidence Game
by Maria Konnikova
The Confidence Game
Finally, if you prefer non-fiction, Maria Konnikova’s The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time is an insightful look at the psychology of the confidence game. Spoiler alert: we like to believe great stories. Konnikova dissects the art and psychology of the con game, and claims that we all can be fooled. In this age of alternative facts, this book gives some great context for understanding how a con works.  The Confidence Game is available as an ebook and digital audiobook from eBCCLS.

Written by
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian

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