The Paris Review

Staff Picks: Mediums, Midtown Hotels, McGoorty

Still from Mediums.

After our Spring Revel this week, I woke up feeling like garbage’s garbage. To ease the pain, I reached for Robert Byrne’s , a biography as greasy as a bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich and just as good for my hangover. First published in 1972, this profane picaresque does a nice little cradle-to-grave number on Danny McGoorty, a real live Chicago pool shark, earthy and sly and often in extremis. In the twenties, he went from billiard room to billiard room, conning and swindling his way to a small fortune; in the thirties, he was a boxcar hobo; in the forties, some years back as part of his Library of Larceny series, but it seems to have fallen out of print again. Won’t someone please rescue McGoorty? He is unrepentantly ripe. As early as page three, he begins his prurient boasting about “broads”: “I was seventeen years old before I was able to get my finger damp enough to turn a page. Once I got started, though, I became quite the little cocksman.” No doubt, McGoorty. No doubt. —

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