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Galveston: A Novel Paperback – June 14, 2011

383 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Pizzolatto, author of the story collection Between Here and the Yellow Sea, takes a hard-edged look at the stormy life of a compassionate criminal in his impressive first novel. On the same day in 1987 he's diagnosed with lung cancer, Roy Cady flees New Orleans, taking along Raquel Rocky Arceneaux, a pretty 18-year-old with a lurid past, whom he rescues from some hoods in the wake of a bloodbath. Rocky persuades him to stop in Orange, Tex., to pick up Tiffany, her three-year-old sister, and by the time they reach refuge in a rundown Galveston motel, 40-year-old Roy finds himself an unlikely father figure even as he struggles with a romantic attraction to Rocky. Pizzolatto's insightful portrayal of the heroic Roy, who takes a beating for trying to help the two girls, is rough and tumble real. As Pizzolatto switches smoothly between past and present, he vividly captures Galveston in all its desperate vulnerability as it faces the approach of Hurricane Ike in September 2008. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Pizzolatto, author of the short story collection Between Here and the Yellow Sea (2006), delivers a taut first novel suffused with a strong noir sensibility. Roy Cady is working as a strong-arm man for a low-level New Orleans gangster when two events change his life: he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer, and his boss puts out a hit on him. Soon enough, Roy and a young prostitute, Rocky—thrown together after a blood-spattered encounter with the would-be hit men—are on the run, traveling from New Orleans to Galveston. “Nothing ends well,” Roy muses at one point, and, of course, we know from the start that this road trip is on a collision course with disaster. The inevitable downward arc of all noir can bring a certain dreary sameness to the proceedings, especially if the writer paints his disasters by the numbers, but Pizzolatto builds tension by moving back and forth in time: we know it all goes bad, but we don’t know how. Add to that a writer with a real feel for the special poetry of noir, and you have a fine crime-fiction debut. --Bill Ott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (June 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439166668
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439166666
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (383 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nic Pizzolatto's fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, The Oxford American, The Missouri Review, The Iowa Review, Best American Mystery Stories and several other publications. His work has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award, and his story collection Between Here and the Yellow Sea was named by Poets & Writer's Magazine as one of the top five fiction debuts of the year. His first novel, Galveston, was a finalist for the Barnes and Noble 2010 Discover Award and the Edgar Award for best first novel; it won the Spur Award, and received the Prix de Premier Roman L'Etranger for best first novel (foreign) from the French Academy.

In 2012 he created a new series for HBO titled 'True Detective', the first season of which will air in January of 2014, with Pizzolatto as writer, executive producer, and showrunner. Season 2 aired in summer of 2015.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Giddy Goody on June 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Galveston is exceptionally well-written, a Southern noir that takes recognizable genre types (the tough, smart mob enforcer and the spirited young woman) and plows deep, deep, deep into their psyches and souls. Roy Cady, the narrator and main character, is pretty much a triumphant creation; he knows that his strengths and his weaknesses are more acute than the typical, assimilated dude, and he is fully aware of the harm he can inflict, but he also seems to hit upon wells of compassion and bravery that are both surprising and completely earned. And his voice is an uncompromising wonder.

One reviewer here calls Galveston a redemption tale, but I think that may be putting too sunny a spin; there is no promise that the possible redemption offered has been worth the costs paid (a tour of the Inferno, with glimpses at Purgatory). It is more a novel about seemingly marginal individuals clawing tooth and nail for their humanity, and the world (and, quite often, their own instincts) fighting them at every step. There's a cinematic clarity, and an irresistibly dark pull, to the narrative, and the language often sings out with the sort of violent, seemingly off-hand vernacular poetry of a Denis Johnson or a Roberto Bolano (minus his post-Beat mannerisms).

Recommended for folks interested in noir novels that not only satisfy your itch for genre strengths like expert plotting and unceasing atmospherics, but that may also exceed your expectations in terms of characterization and depth of feeling.
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Cardiff Giant on June 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Galveston" is a first-rate page-turner, and, thank god, not for any cheap manipulations or torn from the headlines hooks, but for characters I can relate to -- emotionally, at least -- who are yanked relentlessly and often brutally into situations I can not relate to -- physically, at least. (What a concept -- a novel with characterization worthy of a "literary hit" and a plot worthy of the crime genre's masters!) What can be said except that Roy Cady escaped Springsteen's "Nebraska" album; thankfully, he found a home in Nic Pizzolatto's first novel.

Once you've finished, Pizzolatto's craftsmanship truly hits you -- his structure renders any melodramatics moot and lets you focus on the human journey, the human costs on Roy, Rocky, and Tiffany (in other words, he makes sure that you're turning this page-turner's pages for the right reasons); his sense of place and time is annoyingly pinpoint, as my shoulders stung from sunburns I did not have and my feet itched with sand that wasn't between my toes; and his language is a miracle, romantically honest (though this won't be a surprise for fans of his short story collection).

Incredible stuff here. Don't miss out.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Brief: Good for a modern noir but it always left me wanting more. Solid storytelling but it was a well-trodden motif with no new angles or innovative character developments. The characters were essentially one-dimensional personalities -- something Pizzolatto seemed to have corrected in his latest work. The end -- the major plot points -- were fairly easy to suss out. All in all, it was a good, quick read, but the archetypes were obvious and stayed true to noir form. If you were expecting True Detective, this isn't it. Although, years down the line, it could show a baseline that will only show Pizzolatto's true brilliance. He is growing into his new writing style with his recent work for HBO. Evidence of TD's philosophy and vivid scene descriptions are there, albeit meekly.

Regardless, it was entertaining and I look forward to TD's conclusion and it's further iterations.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on August 17, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you've forgotten why they call it "noir," it's time to read "Galveston," a blistering debut novel from Nic Pizzolotto that will whipsaw your emotions like a trip through a Gulf hurricane to reach the eye - a terrifying mystery edged with clever foreshadowing by way of parallel storylines twenty years apart.

Roy Cady is a 40 year old hit man for a second class New Orleans gangster, a gnarly mountain of a man who conjures the image of "Dog" from "The Bounty Hunter." On the same day he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, the chain-smoking, hard-drinking Roy is sent out on a new leg breaking mission that he suspects may have some extra twists of its own. It is there that he meets and is soon on the run with Raquel "Rocky" Arceneaux, an 18 year old hooker. Stopping along their flight from New Orleans, Roy and Rocky stop in Texas long enough to pick up Rocky's 3 year old sister. But if you're thinking this is sounding like the stereotyped whore-with-a-heart-of-gold tale where a sassy Julia Roberts-type breaks down the crusty outer layers of the hardened criminal to reach the mushy stuff inside - don't trouble yourself. This is about as sentimental as Cormac McCarthy - as far from feel good puff as doing hard time in Angola. Pizzolotto's cast is chainsaw-hewn from cedar swamp logs - rough and splintery with jagged edges and not much soft parts. He writes of the Gulf's seedy underbelly - of clam shell parking lots and busted beer bottles, broken down motels and the broken people that frequent them. Yet beyond the violence and grit there is a poignant and almost passionate tale - a searing lesson in human wreckage; a reminder that life is not fair and redemption is rare.
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