Unlocked: The Life and Crimes of a Mafia Insider by Louis Ferrante was an interesting book about being in the mob. Plus it was a rare look into a part of the Gambino mob family and about growing up while in prison. Although there were times when the part of the book really reminded me of watching Oz.
I have always been fascinated by crime although not always by the mob. Well there are mobsters that fascinate me but you are talking about the classic mobsters that lived and breathed by a code that has gone by the wayside in the past few years. But there was something appealing to this book. It was more then he became a book reader after going to jail for his crimes. Part of that was from the way it was marketed on the book. There were comments by an actress, the coscreenwriter to Godfellas and New York Newsday and all the comments seemed to point at his journey in addition to the life in crime. It drew me in.
I will have to say, I’ve never read a book that was set up this way. The first half of the book had chapter titles and the second half of the book just had numbered chapters. This really marked the life of being free and outside of prison and life in prison (with just a little bit post prison). The book never felt to be sequential in order of events since each chapter was more a tale about an event. Sometimes there was foreshadowing of events and other times there was retracing of footsteps.
In this book, you get a total feel for street life. There were times the dialogue had to be read aloud to get what he was saying since he really tried to get that New York accent of the mob world (which often meant being butchering grammar on top of the accented words) but it made it more real too. You got a feel for what he was going through. He was a king pin and thought he was smart but also realized when everything was hitting the fan and he needed a better defense.
Now when he was talking about the events that happened in prison, there were times when it felt like I was watching an episode of Oz. The stuff he saw mimicked the stuff from the show. Since he was in prison when the HBO show was on the air and he points out how life passes you by in prison, it seems unlikely that he would use the show as a way to pad up the book. It was more the show was just that good at portraying life in prison. Plus the book had that tone about it which isn’t bad since I LOVED Oz.
I’m glad that during a trip to the hole, he started to think about life’s questions and his friend sent him three books that were recommended by a clerk for someone who is short and bossy. It started off something good within him. He decided to start to better himself and change his life. In some ways he was at odds with the blood from his mom and dad, that is the mafia ties and the non-mafia way of life. He learned that the risk taking and stubbornness that made him a leader in the mob, wasn’t always a bad thing. But he also learned the value of doing what was right for him.
This was an interesting book that I enjoyed a lot. It got a good peek into a life that is fairly closed off. Plus it was great to get a really good critical look at life not only in prison but in the mob since the age of Gotti and death of the code of not saying anything.