Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Julian Rubinstein's Ballad of the Whiskey Robber was the subject of an article about unjustly ignored new books, links to which I saw on several lit blogs not too long ago. I skimmed the article and thought the book sounded interesting, but the real reason why I ordered it from LINK+ was almost entirely due to its subtitle: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts. How could I not with a title like that? And the book did not disappoint. It's the story of the newly post-Communist Hungary and its most famous criminal, the thief known as The Whiskey Robber. Attila Ambrus was an unpaid second or third string goalie for one of Hungary's professional hockey teams and took up robbing post offices, travel agencies, and banks to make ends meet. The story alternates between unbelievable and incredible, but is always funny. The author seems to genuinely like Attila and his sympathy for Attila's situation in the economic and social chaos created when the Eastern Bloc dissolved comes through. That's not to say that he isn't equally as sympathetic to the cops, who valiantly pursue Attila despite the lack of even basic police equipment and training.

The book reads like a madcap adventure novel and is full of great one liners that kept me laughing through the whole thing. I think because of the tone and writing style and because I just skimmed the article I thought the "True" part of the subtitle was a joke. I honestly didn't know it was a true story until I was about a third of the way through and looked it up on Amazon. Does it sound like nonfiction to you when police headquarters is called the "Death Star," one of the detectives is nicknamed "Dance Instructor" and another "Mound of Asshead" and they are consistently referred to in the book by those names? Didn't think so. I'd definitely recommend this one. It's exciting and funny and proves that the truth is always stranger than fiction.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?