City of Margins
William Boyle's City of Margins is a marvelously nuanced study of light and dark, infusing the gritty, melancholy detachment of The Lonely Witness with a dash of the "screwball noir" abounding in A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself. The early 1990s Southern Brooklyn denizens in City of Margins muddle through thinly partitioned lives, toting their loss, hope, desperation and yearning. When chance encounters increase their overlap, perilous links form between people who might otherwise have rubbed against each other without consequence.
Donnie Parascandolo is the epicenter, an emotionally wrecked cop who lost his son and then his wife, Donna. Donnie is connected to Mikey Baldini by a 1991 night of violence that resulted in the death of Mikey's father and left widowed Rosemarie Baldini with a crushing gambling marker held by Big Tommy Ficalora. Two years later, Donnie has been thrown off the force. His surprising new emotional attachment to widow Ava Bifulco is jeopardized when Ava's son recognizes Donnie. Nick dreams of writing the next great mobster screenplay and sees Donnie, rumored muscle for Big Tommy, as his meal ticket. The web of connections thickens when Mikey finds a note leading him to Donna and his ultimate discovery of the explosive truth behind his father's death.
Boyle's love of books and movies that blend crime and comedy wonderfully informs both his style and the bonds among his characters. The arts bridge generations, start conversations and, in Boyle's masterful hands, provide softening, wide-angle lenses to the broken and tortured souls of the margins. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review