chapter  7
20 Pages

The Gangster as Public Intellectual

ByAnthony Valerio and Don DeLillo

In this chapter the novels of Anthony Valerio and Don DeLillo are sites for exploring the creation of “the gangster of the intellect.” Both these writers exploit the popularity of the gangster as a symbol in order to show new directions in intellectual culture. Tied to their times, both question the gangster stereotypes that have evolved and changed as the power culture of the 1980s evolved into the more introspective culture of the 1990s. Valerio, more than DeLillo, attaches great significance to the gangster, a figure in which he fashions a turning point away from the romanticized wiseguy of the past and toward new ways of seeing Italian-American masculinity.