Re: RARA-AVIS: Luc Sante's a Low Life

Date: 05 Jun 2001

In a message dated 05/06/01 12:16:10 GMT Daylight Time, writes:

 Seeing someone recommend Low Life, I had to write to say that the book is for
 the most part a reworking (and rip-off) of a much better book published in
 1928 by Herbert Asbury: Gangs of New York. Luc Sante owes his career to the
 fact that books go out of print, and then are largely forgotten, in my
 opinion. I would also recommend Asbury's other books: The Barbary Coast
 underworld), The French Quarter (New Orleans), Gem of the Prairie (Chicago),
 and Sucker's Progress (History of Gambling in US). Very well-researched, very
 whimsical, entertaining reads.
 Nathaniel Lachenmeyer
 -- >> I have not read Asbury's works and I think that it is unlikely that I will get the chance anytime soon, if anyone knows of a reissue I would love to know the details, I think it is a bit unfair to criticise Sante for
"rewriting" someone elses work. He fully acknowledges his debt to Asbury and, as far as I can tell, correctly attributes his quotation. It is only throw Sante that I heard of Asbury. I also think that Sante has his own voice, one which I found sympathetic, and has also used other source material which he also acknowledges. The other book I reccomended as background HB reading "The Big Con" he also used, and in his note on sources says "someone should reissue (his) extraordinary The Big Con" - and low and behold they have, with Sante providing the introduction, I now have a copy and concur with his high opinion of it, it's fascinating. Asbury is obviously a major source on this period and subject matter and so will be a first port of call, does that mean that every history of Norman england is a reworking and a rip-off of the Domesday Book? I dunno, like I say not seen Asbury - if they are reprinted I imagine that it will be partly down to Sante's work. I still recommend it and still say it's fantastic. Scorsese film sounds interesting hope it goes well! Regards Colin

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