Margot Mifflin
August 09, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Gangster of Love

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Jessica Hagedorn
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

Novels starring rock musicians tend to be corny, but this one (except for the fantasy sequences featuring Jimi Hendrix) isn’t. Here, Jessica Hagedorn has created a sort of Filipino-American Patti Smith in singer-songwriter Rocky Rivera. Torn between her never-quite-successful band (a ”funky global doo-wop choir of disharmony”) and her erratic Asian family, her complicated boyfriend, and her pretentious best friend, Rocky ultimately finds a way to balance youthful abandon with a growing sense of adult responsibility. Hagedorn leaves many subplots unresolved, and Rocky’s dispassionate leap into motherhood seems strangely extracurricular. But from the start, The Gangster of Love is more about journeys than destinations, and Hagedorn’s steamy prose makes you happy just to be along for the ride. B+

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