Top critical review
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Slight, gritty, but satisfying enough
on 8 August 2010
I read this book because of Denis Johnson's short stories. They have a fantastic quality of the bar room to them, amoral and quick and shocking.
This novel doesn't quite have the same feel as them. The short stories have such a chaotic, verbal story telling sense to them that can only come from meticulous planning, but here you can see the plotting.
Although Nobody Move is fairly episodic in nature it feels much more structured and within genre than the stories that I'd previously read. In many ways it reads like an Elmore Leonard book, the same sharp mouth, the same gruffness and distance from the characters, but it lacks the intricate twists and turns that Leonard gives us.
The plot is very simple. Very fast paced, very violent, often funny, but very simple.
Jimmy Luntz owes a bad gambling debt Juarez. Juarez sends Gambol to extract the money from Luntz, with violence if necessary. Luntz sees it coming and shoots Gambol in the leg and goes on the run. On the way he meets Anita, the ex-wife of a Judge, who is due in court to be charged with embezzling some money. She too is on the run. She doesn't have the money, but knows where it is. Gambol and Juarez chase, Luntz and Anita run. That's it.
What has remained from the short stories is a moral ambiguity, you are never sure who to empathise with, if anyone. Luntz is supposedly the main character, yet you can't help liking Gambol. But Gambol once cut off a mans testicles and ate them, so you shouldn't empathise with him, and so on.
I enjoyed this unpredictability of characterisation, it reminded me of Point Blank and Parker. And what this book lacks in plot it makes up for in punchy dialogue and interesting characters.