Sunday Macaroni Club

Sunday Macaroni Club

by Steve Lopez
     
 

"It’s a city of bottom feeders. With no bottom." Assistant District Attorney Lisa Savitch has a problem. Her boss wants her to nail the Sunday Macaroni Club-five remnants of the old political machine led by Augie Sangiamino, a former U.S. Senator with a conviction for fraud, now a political consultant. Why are these has-beens so important when there are

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Overview

"It’s a city of bottom feeders. With no bottom." Assistant District Attorney Lisa Savitch has a problem. Her boss wants her to nail the Sunday Macaroni Club-five remnants of the old political machine led by Augie Sangiamino, a former U.S. Senator with a conviction for fraud, now a political consultant. Why are these has-beens so important when there are children in Philadelphia dying of leukemia in the vicinity of an oil refinery? As for Augie, it's like he says at grace on Sunday: "We thank you, Lord, for this wonderful macaroni dinner. But we could use a little help, to tell you the truth, in this campaign." His two candidates are way behind in the polls, and he needs a miracle, divine or otherwise, to reverse the trend. Miracles, of course, cost money, and that's where the Sunday Macaroni Club dives into a glorious-and usually hilarious-carnival of greed, ambition, and self-preservation. Its hoorifying politics are democracy in America, and few people understand those better than Steve Lopez or have more fun painting them large. The characters of The Sunday Macaroni Club spill off the page with a furious energy and unexpected decency-by turns appalling, alluring, and endearing, they are altogether unforgettable.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Expertly mixing Runyonesque characters with contemporary headlines, this follow-up to Lopez's solemn debut (Third and Indiana) is an unexpectedly funny tale of Philadelphia politics at the gritty street level. ADA Lisa Savitch, a fiery beauty, has relocated to the Philadelphia DA's office with an edgy attitude that inspires her to chainsmoke before her morning runs. Her anger is due, in part, because her stint in the Boston DA's office ended when her failed relationship with a prosecutor exploded on the front pages of the tabloids. Now partnered with ex-FBI agent Mike Muldoon, she is assigned to get the goods on the Sunday Macaroni Club, an old time South Philly political machine led by Augie Sangiamino, a former U.S. senator, and his two cronies, state representative "Ham" Flaherty, who's running for Congress, and Judge "Izzy" Weiner. Savitch also wants to nail Liberty Oil, a local corporation believed responsible for an upsurge in leukemia among neighborhood kids. The fun starts when Flaherty's opponent comes out against Liberty, and Liberty CEO Whit Pritchard starts funneling money to Augie's cohorts through Joey Tartaglione, Augie's bag man and driver. In this corrupt world, everyone has an agenda, but ward bosses like Augie, who does what he can to serve his constituents, and hoods like Joey, who can act out of friendship and loyalty, have a raw nobility that is never granted to the cold corporate criminals of Liberty Oil. Lopez, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, creates an idiosyncratic yet believable milieu in which political dinosaurs uneasily coexist with sleek corporate snakes. It's an eye-catching zoo, and Lopez proves an expert keeper.
Library Journal - Library Journal
Actor Steven Bauer's narration adds nicely to Lopez's second novel, a fascinating study of election maneuvering set in contemporary Philadelphia. Former U.S. Senator Augie Sangiamino, convicted of abuse of office and now a South Philadelphia ward boss, strikes a deal with a local oil refinery to obtain campaign money for his two candidates. However, the refinery emits benzene that is causing leukemia in children. Assistant D.A. Lisa Savitch and former FBI agent Michael Muldoon attempt to bag both the oil company and Sangiamino for pollution law violations and election fraud. Lopez's story displays numerous twists and turns, and the comparison between the old politics of the ward boss and the new politics of corporations, lobbyists, and politicians is arresting. However, the author is at his best with character development, without going over the line to caricature. An excellent abridgment for all collections.Stephen L. Hupp, Univ. of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Hilariously cynical take on small-time ethnic politicos and other craven creeps in the City of Brotherly Love, from an award-winning former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist.

Abandoning the mawkish sentimentality of Third and Indiana (1994), his mean-streets social-realist debut, Lopez now goes for a fiercely funny epic that pits the feckless members of a creaking, contentedly sleazy old-time South Philly political machine against idealistic, terminally beautiful Assistant D.A. Lisa Savitch and her street-wise, "part-time" FBI agent sidekick, Mike Muldoon. Lopez uses a deliriously complicated plot to deliver a stinging satire. It seems that former US Senator Augie Sangiamo, who listens to Sinatra while chowing down with his cronies on pasta and "gravy" every Sunday afternoon, wants to maintain his weakening hold on his turbulent, working-class neighborhood by using illegal campaign funds drawn from Atlantic City casinos to buy elections for the grandly corrupt State Representative William "Ham" Flaherty and Common Pleas Judge Isadore "Izzy" Weiner. The ambitious D.A., who once sent Sangiamo to jail, wants Savitch, an athletic, cigarette-puffing import from Boston who can't quite manage the local patois, to "bring me the heads of these dinosaurs so we can stuff them, mount them and put them on display at the Academy of Natural Science." Savitch is more interested in investigating a release of toxic fumes from the city's oil refinery, and, meanwhile, Muldoon can't keep his eyes off Savitch's legs. Throughut, comically vile insiders square off against stiff, feckless outsiders and only the morally upright seem to suffer. As Muldoon says, "we end up with bribery, a white-collar scandal, a public health epidemic, two murders, thirty-seven felony counts. Where's our bonus?"

While it lacks the depth of Tom Wolfe's Bonfire, Lopez's scathingly sarcastic top-to-bottom exploration of urban corruption overwhelms with dead-on characterizations and lingering belly-laughs.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781901982022
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
01/28/1998
Pages:
383
Product dimensions:
4.33(w) x 7.09(h) x (d)

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