Pimps and prosties, flimflam men and four-flushers, Low Life author Luc Sante knows them all. He’s now editing the Broadway Library of Larceny; titles include Where the Money Was: The Memoirs of a Bank Robber and Ponzi: The Incredible True Story of the King of Financial Cons.
Why a series devoted to property crime? Murder’s just so . . . bloody. Property crime allows for greater human ingenuity. And it’s the right time: There’s swindling going on now at an unprecedented scale.
Ever been swindled? I once gave money to a guy who came up to me on the street with a long, involved story. I knew it was fake, but it was like listening to a medieval storyteller.
What sort of swindler would you be? Swindling is fascinating—it’s like performance art on a massive scale. But I’m more drawn to old-fashioned bank robbing—Dillinger, the romance, that sense of popular insurgency.
What kind of criminals would you like to add to the series? We need more women. Also, it would be interesting to have a good first-person account of a pimp. The trick is to match up the story with the storyteller. We need more articulate criminals, ones with a sense of literary style. And a small-time rum-runner.