Sunday, June 1, 2014

Roadkill Review: Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto

If you have heard of Nic Pizzolatto, the chances are it will be because you watched, True Detective. I saw the first couple of episodes, but found myself struggling to connect with the story. I’m not a big fan of ritual and occult themed stuff. However, I had no problem connecting with Pizzolatto’s debut novel, GALVESTON; in fact I couldn’t put the damn thing down.

Roy Cady is a bagman for the New Orleans mob. The newly diagnosed cancer in his lungs and his past indiscretions both mean that his time is nearly up. Roy knows that the routine job he is sent on by his boss is just a thinly disguised attempt to hasten his demise. The hit doesn’t go as planned and a blood-soaked explosion of violence somehow ends with Roy as the last man standing, or as Lleweyln Moss put it, the ultimate hombre.
The last woman standing is Rocky, a beaten-up teenage prostitute who turned the wrong trick that night. Roy is no knight in shinning armor, but even a hard bitten ex-con like him can’t bring himself to leave this young girl to her fate. They take off together, heading west along a road littered with dive bars, low-rent motels and shattered dreams. Neither Roy nor Rocky seem to have much of a future and it’s hard for them to see what’s coming when they have to keep looking over their shoulders.
Nic Pizzolatto’s concise prose paints a colorful yet unsentimental picture of the south that at times reminded me a little of Gifford or Crumley. Although Pizzolatto's descriptions of the run-down towns of the gulf coast almost verge on the poetic in places, they never get in the way of the story. His characters soon become flesh and you find yourself being pulled into their ashed-out world of tough breaks and faint hopes. It would require a heart of stone not to feel for Rocky as she tries so hard to keep from fucking-up again.
While the narrative is prone to jump around at times and there is nothing particularly ground breaking about the plot, these picky gripes are easily washed away by the sheer power of Pizzolatto’s writing. GALVESTON may just be my read of the year. It’s a brutal, haunting and beautifully doomed piece of noir with a finale that feels like a knife being twisted in your guts. As John Travolta once exclaimed, I say, god damn what a rush!
Seriously, you need to read this.

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