8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Set mainly in 1987 this award-winning first novel by the creator of HBO's True Detective (not seen it) is a terrific read.
In the first few chapters the action moves quickly before changing pace, allowing the characters backstories, personalities and the plot to develop.
It's a story about Roy Cody. A hit-man with cancer and a drink problem. His girlfriend leaves him for his mobster boss, and Roy subsequently finds himself taking on a job for him that goes wrong, and he has to run- taking a teenage prostitute with him.
They head out of Louisiana for Texas, and ultimately, Galveston.
What follows is the story of people brought together by loss, tragedy and rejection. Cody remains on the run, haunted by his past, living his life out amongst out-casts and mis-fits, trying to second guess how long he can hold out against his condition and circumstances.
The description of the South is as cinematic as you'd expect from a screenwriter. You feel the intensity of the southern heat, the vastness of the plains, the trashiness of the port towns along the coast and the bleached weariness of the Emerald Shores Motel.
Things don't end well, but the thing that keeps you turning the page and caring for these characters are the glimpses of humanity they all exhibit.
These aren't cardboard noir cut-outs, but well-drawn characters wrapped up in a cracking read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2014
It is clear this novel shares DNA with the wonderful True Detective. Both are set in the sinister and atmospheric deep south. Both have troubled and alienated protagonists trying to navigate through this landscape whilst facing ghosts from their pasts. Both use structures that jump back and forward over decades to tell the story.
Galveston was deeply satisfying for me on various levels. The plot is really good and had me engaged right to the end and has kept me thinking about how neatly it all hangs together right to the end. But it is more than a tough guy redemption thriller. It also explores some interesting and thought-provoking themes.
A major part of this novel is based on how the protagonist's behaviour, attitudes and and world view change when he learns he is dying of cancer. This gangster hitman only starts making selfless and brave decisions when he thinks he is dying. He was perfectly capable of escaping the mess he was in provided he stuck to his professional methods. But this time he didn't. People often say that if they have just a few months to live they would party like it is the end of the world. I dont buy it. Maybe confronting our mortality makes us better people?
Another theme he toys with is the unreliablity of memories. His rose-coloured memories of his relationship with a long lost love were shaken back to reality when he tracked her down and she told it like it was. Again by shattering the story he had told himself about his own life focussed him on his present and creating a meaning for his life once freed from the myth.
Lookiing forward to the next one
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This novel is sharply written, not so tightly plotted and ultimately not that memorable. If better than the routine airport thriller, it still falls some way short of the best of the genre: Ellroy and James Lee Burke spring to mind. The key characters, Roy Cody and the young whore Rocky, are neither original, nor complex enough to be particularly interesting. One of the best features of much American fiction is the vibrant evocation of place, and again “Galveston” seems to me to be lacking in this area. It’s a fast read and holds attention but never really takes root in the mind.
on 1 December 2014
Galveston has gotten my June reading off to a cracking start. To be honest it's a job to pen a review that would do the book justice.
The blurb above has Pizzolatto compared to Cormac McCarthy, someone who I have read and enjoyed (mostly) without feeling able to wholeheartedly endorse for others. At times McCarthy is incomprehensible and loses me, Pizzolatto had me on board for the whole of this ride.
We touch upon mortality, loneliness, failed romance and regrets. Our protagonist, Roy Cady is diagnosed with cancer. His boss sets him up and Cady survives and flees with a young prostitute.
Most of the cast of characters we encounter are damaged and brutalised and worn out by life in general and are doing their best to survive; some stoically and some with the assistance of substances. This includes law breakers and citizens, whose dreams have soured.
Cady, a low-level career criminal is not a typical hero. He's killed, he's capable of, if not always comfortable with, committing acts of extreme violence, but Pizzolatto has such skill as a writer, that he's sympathetic and someone who you care about. When his travelling companion Rocky, drags her four year old sister, Tiffany into any already tense situation, we have glimpses of the man Roy could have been if his life had trodden a different path.
When Roy's and Rocky's situation descends into chaos, after a drunken mistake, Roy has a choice, either to protect the innocent, Tiffany and others in her spectrum or extract revenge on his former boss.
An extremely satisfying book, filled with broken people, expertly told in an arc that spans 20 years of Roy Cady's life. Hard to find enough suitable accolades for it.
Pizzolatto is probably better known for his writing and producing of the recent US drama, True Detective. He also has a collection of short stories out - Between Here and the Yellow Sea. (Something not currently residing on the shelves of the library.)
5 from 5
on 21 July 2014
Nic Pizzolatto's first novel is a foray into noir, but with a decided religious undertone. Roy Cady is a shady tough who finds himself in the crosshairs of his sadistic New Orleans boss for reasons to numerous to mention (especially screwing Carmen, now the boss's moll). He is set up to be killed in a shootout but comes out on top, and escapes to Texas with a recued waif. To make matters worse, he has just found out he has terminal cancer.Raquel the teenage prostitute(called Rocky) has more baggage than Samsonite, and Cady falls into saving her (and her three year old daughter) from a life beyond awful. As you can imagine, it ain't easy.
But it's not the whole story. Like his debut short stories, this novel has a deep spiritual side. This makes Galveston different from most other noir novels which occur in a totally immoral world. Pizzolatto's world is full of sinners and not many saints. But Cady reveals himself as a good man underneath his murderous exterior. He decides to do right, and is severely tested in the process. He does not die, as foretold, but comes close to death. After 20 years, his good deeds pay dividends at last, and he is redeemed. To tell more is to ruin the story.
Pizzolatto writes beautifully throughout without touching the elegance of his short stories. It's a different genre, one that is blunter and tougher. Galveston comes across as less intellectual that True Detective and his short stories. But the talent is there, the sheer writing ability, and so is what he has to say about people. We are all drawn into sin, and its up to us how we deal with it.
Galveston – Simply Stunning
Having read Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto it is easy to see why this has been an award winning debut novel from the creator of the HBO and Sky Atlantic series True Detectives. While in this crime thriller the police tend to play a walk on part he uses exactly the same creative devices used in True Detective. Those devices make you feel that you too are central to the story and telling this in the first person to someone makes you feel as if you are there in the first person. Within the story there is a strong noir presence that pervades throughout and helps to give this story some depth.
Roy Cady acknowledges that he is a bad man who has done some terrible things in his life time and that he has lung cancer that will kill him shortly. His boss wants him to visit Frank Sienkiewicz to give him a little reminder but things do not go to plan and he needs to go on the run taking with him a beaten up young girl with him. They need to put some space between them and New Orleans and head out through Louisiana in to Texas, picking up the girls daughter on the way. They end up at a beach side motel in Galveston where they all try and put their hard lives behind them but like everything in life it soon catches up soon enough.
This is a story of hope and being able to turn your life around when you hit rock bottom and trying to escape your past and sometimes good things do come out of the bad times. This is a very atmospheric gripping crime novel which slowly draws you in and then grabs you by the throat so that you do not want to put the book down. At times the description and imagery is bleak, and you can see the low rent motels the cowboy bars the dusty weed infested strips where the people will stab you soon as look at you. The novel shows us there are many people around you that are trying to escape something and you are only incidental to that. The novel shows that even the bad guy should never give up hope of good things happening.
This is a brilliant short novel full of grit and the desperate vulnerability of all the players around you. A brilliant first novel and I look forward to his next.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2015
Oh boy, oh boy.....what a book!
A dark thriller through America's south, that keeps you ripping through the pages.
The words, the descriptions, literally bounce off the pages, keeping you tied to this journey
for all it's worth.
Roy Cody is in your face right from the start and the unfolding story grabs you like a vice.
The violence is graphic, but totally in sync with the hard hitting pace of it all.
The ending is endearing, and completes this triumph.
Don't even think about not reading this book.
Like many others, I bought this book because I had loved 'True Detective' and I was curious about the writer and his other work. I came away having enjoyed it for its own sake; it has some things in common with the TV drama series - atmosphere, characterisation - but is by no means a spin-off or a cash-in.
Really, 'Galveston' is a slice of noir fiction which could have been filmed in black-and-white in the late 40s or early 50s without seeming too much out of place. Its [anti]hero is a weary hitman called Roy who falls into a kind of love with a sad-eyed escort girl he rescues from a New Orleans crimescene. There's more to both of them than meets the eye, and the narrative switches between their brief platonic romance as they flee to the Texas coast and a timeframe twenty years on, when you might say everything and nothing has changed.
It's hard to say more without spoiling the plot, but the point of Galveston is really its prose - almost Chandleresque in its wry, laconic observation - and the evocation of a feverish, heat-oppressed landscape where people too easily lose hope. The characterisation is solid, though because this is a first-person narrative that's maybe more so for Roy than for the flotsam and jetsam he encounters along the way.
For a short debut novel, thought, it's an impressive achievement, and stays in the mind long afrter the last page is reached.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2014
So a few nights ago I was wandering around my home town, singing the theme from True Detective at the top of my lungs and wondering what the hell happened to my Batman pyjamas. An acoustic accompaniment surged up from the brickwork and echoed along the inky blackness of the Leeds/Liverpool like the ghosts of dead navvies playing for their souls. And then I woke up, lurid trouserware restored. You can't get away from Nic Pizzolatto's enthralling tv series even in the embrace of Morpheus. Having reached episode three, further research revealed the writer and brainchild behind the series had written a fairly well received novel. So here it is. It tells the story of Roy Cady or rather Roy tells his own story. He's a bagman for a New Orleans loan shark named Stan Ptitko. Roy gets a double life changing alarm call in the shape of lung cancer and an attempt to set him up for the big sleep by his own boss. What our unreliable narrator steers our gaze away from is just how bad a man Roy Cady is, his job description often going way beyond threats with menaces. Roy is very good at making other people dead. He survives his date with death, killing everyone at the double cross and along with the only other survivor, a young prostitute, the two of them hit the road.
It would be a stretch to describe the book as a crime thriller though it certainly occupies the framework of a crime novel but like its protagonist it wants to be something else. Pizzolatto is far more committed to exploring human nature. Roy is the archetypal killer. It's the man's one true tallent. And he wants to change. Wants to draw a line. He's confronted with his own mortality which forces him to look into the shadows of his own character. He sees the young prostitute, Rocky, as being something still unminted. She's the vamp - the femme fatale but Roy still sees the archetypal ingenue or at least the possibility. If he can't save himself, then maybe he can save her. But Rocky has her own dark secrets and motivations that confound Roy's expectations. The crime novel has never been a genre that disregarded the philosophical but generally it would be used to colour the narrative and add depth and substance to the characters, rather than actually being the focus, with the plot and narrative falling behind to mere backdrop. There are some big ideas and complex philosophical conundrums going on that Galvaston with its always sunny beach and Motel populated with broken or lost humanity, somehow serves up the time to explore them in a pulp sized burp of fiction. And like in True Detective, Pizzolatto uses the passage of time to show a more complete picture of the life tracks involved. People change and one smiling snapshot in the sun tells nothing at all. The author's writing is insightful, colourful, entertaining and challenging. Some of the early chapters are filled with some eyebrow lifting metaphor and imagery but it soon gets reigned in as Pizzolatto finds his stride. A true page turner.
on 9 August 2014
IT’S in your head already, isn’t? That Glen Campbell song of the same title. Pizzolatto very likely knew that when he penned this tidy gem that’s as black as the stuff that oozes out of the Texas soil.
He’s the guy who wrote the telly series True Detective so he knows how to hook an audience. And in this hard-as-nails number of criminal, borderline white trash in the Southern States he grabs you by the heart, head and netters.
It tells the story of a cancer-ravaged bagman who fights his way out of a lethal set-up by his crook boss and winds up on the run with a tragic young hooker. Shacked up in a seaside motel he’s torn between sticking with the babe and the young girl she’s brought with her or skinning out. It all hangs on a bid to blackmail his old boss, a high stakes game.
A bit into the fifth chapter you’re brought up short with the question in your brain ‘how is this guy still alive?’ And you’ll still be
asking it by the last page.
This is dark, seedy, gritty stuff... you’ll suck up the smoke and the whisky and the taut, tough writing. And yes, it owes more than a little to that bloomin' song.