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Train [Paperback]

Pete Dexter
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Sep 2004
Lionel Walk, better known as Train, is a young black caddy at an elite Los Angeles golf course, where he comes to know a police detective he calls 'The Mile-Away Man'. Keeping his head down, he navigates his way between the careless brutality of the other caddies. Norah Still is unwillingly at the center of the criminal investigation, as the only survivor of an attempted boat hijacking gone violently wrong. Sergeant Miller Packard - Train's 'Mile-Away Man' - is in charge of the case and, as he quietly manages the crime scene, he finds himself drawn to the beautiful window. Miller's interest in Norah and Train soon moves beyond his professional obligations. He tries to shield Norah from the events on the boat, fighting her need to hold on to the past. He becomes a kind of manager as Train competes as a golfer on a lucrative underground gambling circuit. Miller's oddly personal concern binds the three of them together in an uneasy triangle. Pete Dexter's remarkable new novel brings to life the most violent and tender impulses of his characters as they struggle to come to terms with the difference between a gift and a passion, between their abilities and their desires.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; open market ed edition (2 Sep 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099469316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099469315
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 722,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Terrific' -- Time Out

'grim, but utterly gripping' -- The Economist

‘Chilling… The writing is haunting. The characters are memorable… Vivid…' -- USA Today

‘Dexter’s characters - vividly-rendered and idiosyncratically-voiced - are so heartbreaking they penetrate like bullets.’ -- Esquire

‘Train is a sinister gem’ -- Wall Street Journal

‘Utterly gripping… A superbly written book.' -- The Economist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

‘The best new novel I read this year… Pete Dexter, a writer who can make me feel sick to the pit of my stomach using prose so pitch-perfect I immediately want to go back to the top of the page and be horrified all over again.' Mark Haddon in the Daily Telegraph ‘Books of the Year’

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The world is a hungry place, man." 9 Oct 2003
Pete Dexter's noir fiction brings California in the 1950s to dark and sinister life, as he presents two grim, but ironically humorous plots. Miller Packard, a police sergeant with an eye for easy cash, is a man who enjoys high stakes golf games and does not hesitate to associate with questionable playing partners and opponents when he's "on his game." Packard is called to investigate a brutal double murder and rape aboard a boat in Newport Beach, a crime which echoes throughout the novel when he becomes involved with the young widow of the murdered man. Alternating with the story of Packard, his investigations, and his love life is the story of Lionel Walk, known as Train, an 18-year-old black caddy at the exclusive Brookline Country Club. Conscientious and anxious to do a good job, Train is at the mercy of the world, a young man with a good heart who never seems to catch a break, and Dexter is particularly effective in bringing him to life.
Although Dexter remains faithful to the third person narrative, he tailors his language and points of view to the specific plots he is developing. The action at the golf courses involving Train's life is told from a caddy's-eye view and is described in a deceptively plain-spoken and ungrammatical style. The story line involving Packard is related in more grammatical terms, though Packard is earthy and often uncritical in his observations. The club members' rampant bigotry, casual cruelty, disrespect, and complete disregard for the feelings of the all-black caddy staff and grounds crew are reflected in scenes involving both Train and Packard, with vividly realized dialogue which stings and insults.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtly Strong 16 Jan 2004
I thought this was a very clever book in that, it's a story largely about racism in the 1950's yet, you never really get an overwhelming feeling that that is what the story is about. It's a subtle story made up of many unsubtle scenes and it's only when you get to the end that you realise that every major event was determined due to some racist discussion or action.
It's Los Angeles 1953 and we are focussed on two main protagonists. The first is Lionel Walk, or Train, as he is more commonly known. Train is a young black man who works at the exclusive Brookline Country Club. We follow his fortunes first as a caddy and then as a greenkeeper and later as his relationship and feelings of responsibility for a fellow caddy known as Plural. The other is Detective Sergeant Miller Packard, an incredibly enigmatic man who seems to exude authority and confidence. He always appears to be in total control of every situation right up to the moment he loses the handle with disastrous consequences.
Their paths cross a number of times and although these encounters proved mutually beneficial to both men, there always seemed to be an unsatisfactory ending whenever they parted. Scenes of quiet amusement are followed by scenes of extreme violence wrenching the emotions from empathy to sympathy in an instant.
I had a problem with the ending, feeling it was wrapped up incredibly quickly and leaving way too many questions unanswered for my liking. Apart from this quibble I found I was completely engrossed from the opening line.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vibrant, thrilling, dark and dirty 3 Oct 2009
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In Train, Dexter gives us the Los Angeles milieu from the point of view of rich and poor alike. Linguistically adroit, this book uses the black vernacular without resorting to parody or even once overshooting its mark - it is a fabulous performance with moves as smooth and silky as double cream. It is that rare phenomenon a book that spans the gap between the races in the American hinterland, giving us both extremes and commonplaces with a rich dexterity of plotline, circumstance and feeling. This is the second of Dexter's books to win the American National Book Award.

It is a violent book, opening on the yacht of a rich entrepreneur and two criminal clandestine boarders who have stumbled into a situation they cannot control. Some of the events plumb the depths of viscerality, perhaps too well for some readers. But if you're made of strong enough stuff - this is a superb read.

Incredibly - it is partly about golf. We are in the early 1950s, long before black emancipation and the Reverend Martin Luther King. Train is a caddy working for a few dollars a day when he meets up with Miller Packard, a white cop with a penchant for finding trouble, and if he can't find it, he'll make it. They team up to fleece the gambling golfers of the era - but the setting is incidental and the events encompass a whole world - as vibrant and thrilling as it is dark and extremely dirty.

A tremendous read, though there are no trains of a locomotive type in it, except for the express speed of the plot, which will leave you, I promise, figuratively gasping for breath.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SILLY ME 1 Mar 2013
By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
In a hurray placed an order, got it in a couple of days, looked forward to getting into it that night and mon dieu and sacre bleau it is in French. I should have noticed, but I did not. Gave it 4 stars anyway as anything by Pete Dexter is worth at least 4 stars and I am sure therefor that it is a good read for clever people and Frenchies, but was beyond my schoolboy French. But a definite 5 STARS FOR AMAZON!! On trying to return it, admitting my stupidity, they confirmed my rebate and told me to hold onto the book saying " have this one on us". So are there any pretty French ladies out there who would like to read to an old man?
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