Synopses & Reviews
What Jonathan Lethem did for Brooklyn, Matt Burgess does for Queens in this exuberant and brilliant debut novel about a young drug dealer having a very bad weekend.
Alfredo Batista has some worries. Okay, a lot of worries. His older brother, Jose—sorry, Tariq—is returning from a stretch in prison after an unsuccessful robbery, a burglary that Alfredo was supposed to be part of. So now everyone thinks Alfredo snitched on his brother, which may have something to do with the fact that Alfredo is now dating Tariq’s ex-girlfriend, Isabel, who is eight months pregnant. Tariq’s violent streak is probably #1 worry on Alfredo’s list.
Also, he needs to steal a pit bull. For the homecoming dogfight.
Burgess brings to life the rich and vivid milieu of his hometown native Queens in all its glorious variety. Here is the real New York, a place where Pakistanis, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, An glos, African Americans, and West Indians scrap and mingle and love. But the real star here is Burgess’s incredible ear for language—the voices of his characters leap off the page in riotous, spot-on dialogue. The outer boroughs have their own language, where a polite greeting is fraught with menace, and an insult can be the expression of the most tender love.
With a story as intricately plotted as a Shakespearean comedy—or revenge tragedy, for that matter—and an electrically colloquial prose style, Dogfight, a Love Story establishes Matt Burgess as an exuberant new voice in contemporary literature. The great Queens novel has arrived.
"Burgess's high-octane debut is a post-9/11 shout-out to the borough of Queens, with its roiling mix of cultures. The story chronicles one tense weekend in the life of Alfredo Batista, a 19-year-old Puerto Rican weed dealer trying to set up a dogfight to celebrate older brother Tariq's release from prison for holding up a catering hall. Alberto, who skipped out on the job at the last minute, worries that Tariq might wrongly suspect him of having snitched. Complicating matters is Tariq's girlfriend, Isabel, who's now Alberto's baby mama. And then there is Vladimir, a 15-year-old Ecstasy dealer Alberto rips off and whose brother turns out to be a Russian gangster. Accompanied by his Haitian best friend, Winston, Alberto spends most of the weekend dodging trouble and trying to steal a dog for the fight, but he can't avoid the bloodshed that erupts during the novel's attenuated climax. Despite sometimes lax plotting, Burgess's gritty, punchy narrative, propelled by fresh gusts of language, should remind readers of another outstanding outer borough literary debut--Richard Price's The Wanderers. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
With a story as intricately plotted as a Shakespearean comedy--or revenge tragedy, for that matter--and an electrically colloquial prose style, "Dogfight, a Love Story" establishes Burgess as an exuberant new voice in contemporary literature.
About the Author
MATT BURGESS, a twenty-seven-year-old graduate of Dartmouth and the University of Minnesota’s MFA program, grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens.