The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats

  • Review
By – September 16, 2011

Twen­ty-two year old orphaned stu­dent Rus­sell New­house is intro­duced to Shushan Shoeshine” Cats, a self edu­cat­ed gang­ster in New York City. Shoeshine quick­ly takes Rus­sell under his wing and throws him into the com­i­cal under­bel­ly of the New York crime scene. Set against the back­drop of the Kennedy assas­si­na­tion and the Civ­il Rights move­ment, Kestin’s poignant and wit­ty epic nov­el is superbly writ­ten. Kestin has the right ear for dia­logue. When the FBI shows up to ask Shushan why he went on a recent trip to Dal­las and his known asso­ci­a­tion with a local gang­ster named Jack Ruby, The man was cry­ing on the phone. I went down, held his hand. I think he was hav­ing what they call a break­down. He was a wreck, His busi­ness wasn’t doing too well. There was trou­ble with one of the strip­pers he was dat­ing. She walked out on him. Men get to a cer­tain age, things don’t work out, they can get… desperate.” 

Packed with numer­ous lit­er­ary ref­er­ences that will test your read­ing IQ, Kestin has cre­at­ed a ter­rif­ic out of this world nov­el where noth­ing and nobody is as they seem.

Gary Katz received an MA in Eng­lish from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Nebras­ka-Oma­ha. He is the library admin­is­tra­tor for the Krip­ke Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion Library in Oma­ha, Nebras­ka, one of the largest Judaica libraries in the Unit­ed States.

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