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Drive
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
A few paragraphs in and you can smell the musty 40s. Gooseneck lamps, gently rounded cars, double-breasted suits. Everyone smoked. Everyone drank. Everyone ate steak.

But it's the modern day in LA. Driver leaves his foster home at 16. Makes it to L.A. Becomes a stunt driver. Along the way he develops a sideline of driving getaway cars.

A robbery goes wrong. Driver escapes with the loot and a woman robber. Someone tries to kill Driver: doesn't succeed, but takes out the woman.

Driver is a gentle soul. I drive, that's all is his ethic. But someone wants more and Driver doesn't like anyone on his trail.

Sallis is a master of noir. In 158 pages, he bangs out a complete morality play in which there is no good, no bad: just is, just what is there. Driver doesn't have a past or a future. Just a moment that demands certain things be done. Rootless, but not souless, Sallis paints his portrait in subtle strokes, all the more telling for that.

Sallis dedicates this work to Ed McBain, Donald Westlake and Larry Block, three great American writers. Sallis is, in my opinion, matched only by Block. McBain was great, but Sallis is better at noir.

"Drive" is a pleasant escape into a different reality, a true gem.

Jerry
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2006
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Every word counts in this "sunshine noir" by noted mystery writer James Sallis. Drive is that rare thing, the proverbial novel you cannot put down. Yet, Sallis never cheats by loading up on worn plot devices. Instead, this slim volume pares the story down to its barest essestials, just plot and character, stripped of artifice. And drive. Yes, the story hurtles along, moving fast, but always under control. Do you think you have seen it all with noir? If you think so, then you owe it to yourself to pick up Drive. Sallis uses some familiar devices, but the story he tells and the character he tells it through, the "Driver," are new. Drive will keep you hanging until the last sentence. That's drive enough for anyone.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Readers who delight in noir have a treat in store.

This short novel moves back and forth in both time and place, following a few weeks in the life of Driver - a character who provides no other name. He has a double career - first as a stunt driver for the LA film industry, self trained and among the best in the highly skilled group of specialists. And in the evenings and between film jobs he drives for thieves and con men. But that is all he does - drive. No burglary, no guns, no other participation.

A moonlighting venture goes wrong and sends Driver in search of those who double crossed him. In spare prose, important people in Driver's past and present life are clearly drawn and believable, some presented only as traces from Driver's memory. Although fragmentary, these brief references provide perfect motivation for Driver's actions as he moves toward his moments of revenge. He is a man not always on the right side of the law, or even of a just society, yet in Sallis' hands he becomes a man worthy of respect.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I saw the film before the book, guilty as charged. The film was majestically dark, elegantly offbeat, with beautiful cinematography and it had the best soundtrack of 2012. The only thing the movie has in common with the book are the name of the characters, a line of dialogue in the beginning of the book, an action sequence in the motel where the chick from AMC's Madmen dies, and the ending of the book; that's not a spoiler by any means, that's just something that fans of the movie should know right upfront. Driver (the character's "name") in this novel isn't the quiet, cool guy that Gosling played in the film; this Driver is talkative, witty, smart, sometimes even obnoxious. I actually prefer the Gosling counterpart, but that's me.

Okay, so now let me talk about the book without comparing it to the movie. I think James Sallis was going for a Godfather-esque, noir story, but the plot was just so simplistic that the author had to scramble the scenes around like eggs; it wasn't necessarily hard to know if a scene took place in the past or present or future, but at the same, it wasn't necessary either. In fact, the first chapter in this novel was repeated in another chapter later on--word for word (or at least, almost word for word--because the narrative was repeating what had already happened in the beginning).

I think Sallis tries to write like McCarthy, but he ends up sounding amateurish. He tends to miss words in sentences; for instance: Instead of, "The dog ran into the street to fetch the ball," Sallis would write, "Dog ran into street to fetch ball"--some of that works, but Sallis overuses this writing method to shorten sentences . . . it was almost as if he was trying to get below a certain word count, so he deleted a lot of words.

Another problem I had is that most of the characters talked the same way. The character's speech patterns actually missed words too (convenient, huh?).

Ultimately Drive was a disappointment. I prefer Cormac McCarthy's prose, but I suppose he's impossible to compete with. I see potential in James Sallis's writing . . . but he needs to flesh out his paragraphs, flesh out his characters, flash out his plots, and write a story in chronological order instead of scrambled scenes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I've been thinking about this book a bit lately and I've put off reviewing the book for a week because I wanted some time to collect my thoughts. First of all, most people who know me know how much I love the old hard-boiled and noir novels. But modern noir has been a little off putting for me simply because I never feel they can get the tone and style right and for the most part, they don't. Now when I think of James Sallis' Drive, I don't think this at all. To put it simply, I love and adore the way he went about writing this book.

Drive tells the story of a man simply known throughout the book as Driver; a stunt driver for Hollywood and a getaway driver on the side. This book is so non-linear that I do worry if I tell more about the story I might be giving away something that should be discovered by reading this book. This is a short novel that is jammed pack full of a fantastic noir story that could hold its own against Noir greats like The Postman Always Rings Twice or The Killer Inside Me.

There was so much to like about this book but there were also some things that really bugged me as well. Driver is a mysterious protagonist but I felt he talked far too much for something that would have been more suited as the strong silent type. I'm not sure if he was supposed to be written that way but for me, the impression I received from the character and whenever he spoke, didn't seem to fit my image of him. There has been a recent movie made about this book and I'm keen to see it but I have a feeling there will be a huge difference between the book and movie. I can see a linear story (which I'm ok with) but I can also see them doing the Hollywood thing and try to make a romantic connection between Driver and one of the women from this book. All in all, this book is well worth reading and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel Driven.(less)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book epitomized the noir-style that made the movie based upon it so successful. You immediately connect with driver and understand the simple motivation behind him. He drives.
The book flashes back and forth, which gives you an opportunity to learn a little more about the character, but the overall story is paced incredibly well and keeps you hooked from the beginning. Once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Drive fills in what the film leaves out, obviously and it is a nice short read that makes you appreciate Driver even more. Some events in the book however differ in order from the film.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Here's a man who can write, this James Sallis. Why he isn't perennially on the best-seller list is a mystery in itself. Maybe not. This novel is short, intense, laconic and spare with language. It features a man who you might not want living next door. He epitomizes the anti-hero in our modern society. DRIVE is a kind of anti-novel. The man's name is, well they call him Driver. Not THE driver, just, Driver. That's what he does for a living. He drives stunt cars in Hollywood.

It's not a full-time occupation, so he also drives for people who rob banks and other establishments where there are frequently large amounts of cash to be scooped up. The book is set in Arizona and California, of course. And it features a classical noir protagonist who never really had a chance, given his background and the people he falls in with.

Driver has a conscience and he has a certain ethical creed. When he drives for a heist, that's it. He acquires the vehicle, plans escape routes, delivers the bad guys and takes them away after the job. But he doesn't participate in the planning and he doesn't know who is being robbed. He's a tightly focused very bright and very experienced specialist who is constantly learning, mostly from others' mistakes.

The story begins with a rush and doesn't let up. Ever. Sallis grabs you on page one and never lets you go. Chapter One, first sentence. "Much later, as he sat with his back against an inside wall of a Motel 6 just north of Phoenix, watching the pool of blood lap toward him, Driver would wonder whether he had made a terrible mistake." Take a ride with a wonderful writer. You won't be disappointed.

Congratulations to Poisoned Pen Press for its willingness to go against the currents and publish fine literature that doesn't quite fit the mold.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon September 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Los Angeles based Drive lives up to his name day and night. During the day he works in films as an action drive while at night he drives the getaway car in criminal activities. His current evening job has Drive working a heist just north of Phoenix. As he sits in the vehicle waiting for his teammates, The New Guy who cooked up the job and hired Drive, Dave Strong who aptly provides muscle, and Blanche, who offers the sexy distraction, he notices another car sitting in the nearby alley, mirroring what Drive is doing.

Shots are fired; Blanche races into Drive's car with the money; urging him to take off. Drive leaves with the other vehicle on his back; he gets rid of the tail by cleverly using the police to stop the other car. However that night at the motel, the thugs from the other car arrive shooting at Drive and Blanche leaving her and the two adversaries dead; Drive has a ton of money, but first must clean up the double cross if he is to use it without someone trying to murder him.

DRIVE is a throwback tale to the Noirs of the late 1940s and 1950s starring a tough individual who steps over the legal line, but only so far until the double-cross and attempts on his life turn him into a retaliatory machine. The story line is action-packed with a strong support cast that provides a look at the support Hollywood role of a driver as well as a first class criminal tale. Fans will want to hitch a ride with James Sallis as he provides an excellent hardboiled crime thriller.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I first opened the pages of Drive, I really didn't know what to expect? When you read about the plot, it comes off rather dull, about a person who drives, that's all they do. But in the end, I came away a winner. The character of Driver is intriguing, mysterious, and gratifying in a philosophical sort of way. You can't help but like him, for his simple thoughts and observations about the experiences he goes through. This is a highly recommended read and if you like this check out: The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley.
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