Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg comes out today!
It’s the story of Sal Cupertine, a hit man for the Chicago Mafia who kills three FBI agents, runs away to Las Vegas, and changes his identity… to Rabbi David Cohen, the surprisingly capable leader of a Jewish community in the desert. But the FBI won’t let him go. Goldberg is a widely accomplished writer: he is the director of the MFA Program at UC Riverside, and the author of 12 books, including original novels based on the TV show Burn Notice.
We asked the author one question.
How are you celebrating the publication of Gangsterland?
Tod Goldberg: When my first book came out – this was almost fifteen years ago now – I had a book signing that very same day at the Barnes & Noble in Las Vegas, where I was living at the time. I arrived fifteen minutes early and saw people flooding into the store. Well, I thought, this is going to be awesome. It turns out that my book was coming out on the same day a little book called Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire was also being released – something no one bothered to tell me, nor something I would have thought mattered, anyway, because I was 29 and knew everything – and, well, it ended up being a fairly anti-climactic day, though we do have a nice first edition of Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire.
When my second book came out a few years later, I determined it would be different. As happenstance, the book was released on my wedding anniversary, which seemed like good luck. So, what the hell, we planned an event that day. What could go wrong? That morning, I ran to answer the phone – this was in a time when a thing called “landlines” still existed and which, if not answered, would go to a thing called “the answering machine,” and that was an unreliable system, so one had to run when the phone rang – and ended up breaking three toes on my right foot. I played soccer as a kid so I was used to breaking my toes, so I just, you know, taped them up and pretended nothing was wrong and went about my day, pain shooting into my eyes every time I used my foot. Or breathed. Or someone else breathed. I mean, basically, I was in excruciating pain. And those toes still don’t work quite right. The event that night was great, what I remember of it, other than the burning white pain and how now, years later, when it rains, I walk with a slight limp. Continue reading