Format Hardcover
Publication Date 03/05/19
ISBN 9781643130583
Trim Size / Pages 9 x 6 in / 320

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A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself

A Novel

William Boyle

Goodfellas meets Thelma and Louise when an unlikely trio of women in New York find themselves banding together to escape the clutches of violent figures from their pasts.

After Brooklyn mob widow Rena Ruggiero hits her eighty-year-old neighbor Enzio in the head with an ashtray when he makes an unwanted move on her, she embarks on a bizarre adventure. Taking off in Enzio’s ’62 Impala, she retreats to the Bronx home of her estranged daughter, Adrienne, and her granddaughter, Lucia, only to be turned away by Adrienne at the door. Their neighbor, Lacey “Wolfie” Wolfstein, a one-time Golden Age porn star and retired Florida Suncoast grifter, takes Rena in and befriends her.

When Lucia discovers that Adrienne is planning to hit the road with her ex-boyfriend Richie, she figures Rena’s her only way out of a life on the run with a mother she can’t stand. But Richie has massacred a few members of the Brancaccio crime family for a big payday, and he drags even more trouble into the mix in the form of an unhinged enforcer named Crea. The stage is set for an explosion that will propel Rena, Wolfie, and Lucia down a strange path, each woman running from something and unsure what comes next.

A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself is a screwball noir about finding friendship and family where you least expect it, in which William Boyle again draws readers into the familiar—and sometimes frightening—world in the shadows at the edges of New York’s neighborhoods.

William Boyle is from Brooklyn, New York. His debut novel, Gravesend, was published as #1,000 in the Rivages/Noir collection in France, where it was shortlisted for the Prix Polar SNCF 2017 and nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. Boyle is also the author of a book of short stories, Death Don’t Have No Mercy, and of another novel, Tout est Brisé, recently released in France by Gallmeister. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Deploying an inimitable tone that packs sardonic storytelling atop action and adventure, with a side of character development, Boyle’s voice works even when it feels like it shouldn't. It's just the right kind of too much.” Kirkus Reviews
“Boyle is one of noir’s most exciting voices, and with his newest book he injects a madcap road trip energy into his finely-tuned criminal world.” CrimeReads
“One thing to appreciate about William Boyle’s process is that, not unlike the late, great Charles Willeford, he takes his time, he doesn’t rush the reader. This is a significant trait, more important than it sounds, the method of a confident writer. He builds his characters patiently, allowing them to adjust to one another, not merely throw lines to titillate the reader. In A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself, Wolfie Wolfstein is as comfortably intact a creature as any crime writer of recent vintage has put together. I gleefully anticipate the coming of a movie or better yet a TV series in her name.” Barry Gifford, author of 'Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels' and 'The Cuban Club'
“Although William Boyle’s new novel is clearly a love letter to his Brooklyn roots, (New York being one of the more prominently featured players in the book) the real “Gift” here is his prose. The writing is so casual and honest that as a reader, you have no idea how much you have invested in these characters until it’s too late to turn back. Your heart starts to race and you forget about the time. By the midway point of the book, I was rooting out loud for these characters. The balance Boyle achieved of warmth between friends and the darkness that comes calling for them is nothing short of brilliant. I also love books with strong female leads, and with A Friend, you get three of them, moved along by dialogue that is second only to the master himself, Elmore Leonard. Hellova’ story. Hellova’ cast. Hellova writer.” Brian Panowich, author of 'Like Lions' and 'Bull Mountain'
“As wildly funny and sweet as it is frenetic and harrowing, William Boyle’s A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself is full of dark splendor. And the three wondrous and resilient women at its center are so richly etched, so powerfully voiced, you’ll find yourself wanting to pull up to the dinner table with them, grab a glass, and tuck in. Imagine Martin Scorsese and David O. Russell collaborating with Gena Rowlands and Ellen Burstyn and making magic.” Megan Abbott, author of 'You Will Know Me' and 'The Fever'
“Heartfelt, evocative, and bursting with indelible characters, William Boyle's A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself is not only an unpredictable and off-the-wall noir, but a meditation on the true meaning of friendship and family. Boyle has created another potent jolt of can't-miss New York crime fiction.” Alex Segura, author of the Anthony Award-nominated Pete Fernandez Miami Mystery series
“A brilliant and nasty piece of joyful ambiguity that I Ioved deeply. What a marvelous and unexpected bunch of female characters, in particular. With this one, William Boyle vaults into the big time, or he damn sure should.” Joe Lansdale, author of the Hap & Leonard series
“It’s the women who make this novel such a great read. They are glorious and mad, vulnerable, so human, and very, very funny.” Roddy Doyle, author of 'The Commitments,' 'The Van,' 'Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha,' 'The Woman Who Walked Into Doors,' and 'Smile'
A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself is a thunderous locomotive of a novel, driven by remarkable characters and sparkling dialogue. A treat for fans of neo-noir, it’s brimming with dark wit and piercing insight. Highly recommended.” Stuart Neville, national bestselling author
“Yowza, did I just maybe read a future crime fiction classic? Possibly. It has all the right elements. Great characters—two ex-porn stars, a 14-year-old girl, and a psycho with a sledgehammer—dialogue that tickles the ear, and a sense of place so vivid I thought I was reading in 3-D. And the plot! I'm not going to say anything other than 500,000 dollars in a briefcase and a frisky octogenarian are involved. My only regret? I read the book way too fast, just couldn't stop turning the pages. Oh well, there are worse things in life.” Pete Mock, McIntyre's Fine Books