Brain Candy Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Original Essays | September 23, 2015

    Bryan Doerries: IMG Using Greek Tragedies to Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable

    In ancient Athens, during the fifth century BC, military service was required of all citizens. To be a citizen meant being a soldier, and vice... Continue »
    1. $18.87 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

Qualifying orders ship free.
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
2 Beaverton Americana- Northeast
1 Burnside Americana- Northeast
1 Local Warehouse Americana- Northeast

Five-finger Discount: A Crooked Family History


Five-finger Discount: A Crooked Family History Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

On a summer night when she was five years old, Helene Stapinski watched out her kitchen window as her Grandpa Beansie was carted off to jail for the last time. Beansie (so nicknamed because he had stolen a crate of beans as a child) had spent the better part of that day in the Majestic Tavern, a dive bar on the ground floor of the Stapinskisí apartment building. As the afternoon wore on, Beansie's usual ranting turned mean. He flashed a loaded gun; a silver .22 glowing in the light from the Yankee game on the tavern TV, and bragged to his drinking buddies that he had a bullet for each of his relatives living above the Majestic. But news traveled fast in the neighborhood, and before Beansie, a convicted murderer and armed robber, could stumble upstairs, the cops had him in handcuffs. The headline in the local newspaper the next day read "Man Seized On Way To Kill 5 Children". As Stapinski writes, Jersey City was a tough place to grow up, except I didn't know any better.

In this unforgettable memoir, Stapinski tells the heartbreaking yet often hilarious story of growing up among swindlers, bookies, and crooks. With deadpan humor and obvious affection, she comes clean with the outrageous tales that have swirled around her relatives for decades, and recounts the epic drama and comedy of living in a household in which petty crime was a way of life. The dinner Helene's mother put on the table (often prime rib, lobster tail, and fancy cakes) was usually swiped from the cold-storage company where Helene's father worked. The soap and toothpaste in the bathroom were lifted from the local Colgate factory. The books on the family's shelves were smuggled out of a book-binding company in Aunt Mary Ann's oversize girdle (or taken by Grandpa Beansie from the Free Public Library). Uncle Henry did a booming business as the neighborhood bookie, cousins did jail time, and Great-Aunt Katie, who liked to take a shot of whiskey each morning to clear her lungs, was a ward leader in the notorious Jersey City political machine.

No backdrop could be more appropriate for the Stapinskis than Jersey City; a place known for its ties to the Mafia, industrial blight, and corrupt local officials, and the author ingeniously weaves the checkered history of her hometown throughout the book. Navigating a childhood of toxic waste and tough love, Stapinski tells an extraordinary tale that, unlike the swag of her childhood, is her very own.

Product Details

Stapinski, Helene
Random House
New York
Specific Groups - Criminals
Family/Interpersonal Memoir
New jersey
Personal Memoirs
Criminals & Outlaws
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Trade Cloth
viii, 260 p.
9.56x6.41x.94 in. 1.24 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. The Road from Coorain Used Trade Paper $2.95
  2. Confederacy of Silence
    Used Trade Paper $3.95
  3. The Curse of the Romanovs Used Hardcover $4.50
  4. Perfect Poison: A Female Serial... New Mass Market $6.50
  5. Facing the Wind: A True Story of... New MP3 CD $9.99
  6. Vanished
    Used Mass Market $4.50

Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » Americana » New England and Mid Atlantic
History and Social Science » Americana » Northeast
History and Social Science » Crime » Featured Titles

Five-finger Discount: A Crooked Family History Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details viii, 260 p. pages PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE - English 9780679463061 Reviews:
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at