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Hard Feelings: A Novel Paperback – January 8, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (January 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375727094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375727092
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,188,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Penzler Pick, March 2002: Perverse as she was, I think Patricia Highsmith would approve. With his fourth novel, Jason Starr stakes his claim on the claustrophobic territory that she carved out so brilliantly for the four decades of her writing career. And the people at Vintage/Black Lizard, the publishers of Hard Feelings as their first-ever original paperback--who have a number of Highsmith titles on their classic-noir list--know it. They are also invoking the name of another darkly unsettling and equally legendary American writer. The editor-in-chief of Black Lizard, Edward Kastenmeier, says, "Reading Hard Feelings was like the first time I read The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson: eerie, disturbing and blackly comic."

Richie Segal, the increasingly strung-out narrator of Hard Feelings, is a yuppie New Yorker with a co-op in an East Side high-rise, an executive wife who's just received a promotion, and credit card bills to the tune of $20,000. He's failing at his job--selling computer networks to midsized companies--and has just seen on the street, out of the blue, a man who was his neighbor when they were teenagers. There's something painful about this fellow, Michael Rudnick, now a successful lawyer, that Richie has suppressed for more than two decades. And now that he has begun to remember it, the awful unfairness of their shared shadow history begins to pervade his life, haunting his waking hours... and his dreams.

Hard Feelings does a nearly faultless job of building tension and following Richie's descent into a world that resembles the one in which he has previously lived, in the same way a grimace resembles a grin. Fans of Donald E. Westlake's The Ax and Scott Phillips's The Ice Harvest will love it. It may also be the first "take-out" noir novel, since in typical New York fashion, Richie and Paula, his wife, possess a stack of menus rather than a batterie de cuisine. You can almost taste the chicken chow fun, the boxed pizza, the sushi-to-go, and other bicycled-over delicacies.

The ending may be a too-convenient cutting away from even the slightest glimpse of a crucial moment in Richie's final deterioration. Others may disagree. But, ultimately, this minor lapse doesn't keep it from being a terrific--and terrifying--book. --Otto Penzler

From Publishers Weekly

Computer systems salesman Richie Segal knows things are bad, but he has no clue how bad they can get in this effectively bleak successor to the noir tradition of Jim Thompson and David Goodis. Problems with his job, problems with his marriage suddenly seem of no consequence when he encounters his childhood neighbor, Michael Rudnick, walking down the street in New York. The sighting of Rudnick, now a prosperous lawyer, triggers a flood of repressed memories that begin to haunt Richie in every aspect of his life. What did Rudnick do to him in the basement rec room when he was just a kid? And what should he do to Rudnick now? Starr (Nothing Personal; Cold Caller) does a fine job nailing down his cast of vacuous yuppies, digital-age counterparts to the unsympathetic characters populating the paperback original novels of the 1950s. While Starr works his material well, wedding a modern understanding of repressed memories to a doomful noir scenario, as well as escalating the action with a consistent hand, he never manages a brilliant Thompsonesque leap completely over the top the angle that made Thompson such fun. Still, those looking for an uplifting read will find themselves trapped like rats between the wrong set of covers, as fans of noir bump into another author who can bring them down and cut loose with a savage kick to the ribs. (Jan. 15)the Black Lizard imprint.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


More About the Author

JASON STARR is the international bestselling author of many novels, including THE PACK and THE CRAVING now available from Penguin. Starr's other novels are COLD CALLER, NOTHING PERSONAL, FAKE I.D., HARD FEELINGS, TOUGH LUCK, TWISTED CITY, LIGHTS OUT, THE FOLLOWER and PANIC ATTACK. He has won the Anthony Award twice, as well as the Barry Award, and his books are published in more than a dozen languages. He has also co-written three novels with Ken Bruen--BUST, SLIDE, and THE MAX--and edited BLOODLINES, an anthology of horse racing stories for Vintage Books. He has written comics and graphic novels for Vertigo (THEe CHILL), DC (Batman, Doc Savage, Sand, The Avenger, and Marvel (The Punisher, Wolverine). He is currenrly the writer of the ongoing comics series Wolverine Max. He lives in Manhattan.

Customer Reviews

This one doesn't fail in that respect- he does increasingly stupid things far more often as the book progresses.
Paul D. Cross
And as always with this author, the characterization and the psychology and inner monologues of the characters, especially the narrator, are mesmerizing.
Noirgirl
These problems do not spoil "Hard Feelings," but they do turn it from a potentially great book into only a very good one.
David Montgomery

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Kaplan on March 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
HARD FEELINGS is the story of Richie Segal, a thirty-something man who, on the face of things seems to be living the American dream, but in reality is slowly disintegrating into the depths of hell. He is about to lose his job, his marriage is in trouble and he is trying to control his alcoholic tendencies. In the midst of this maelstrom, Richie accidentally bumps into Michael Rudnick, a childhood friend who sexually abused him. This sends Richie into a tailspin of dark and troubled memories, bouts of drinking, a loss objectivity, and an escalating desire for retribution. Richie has convinced himself that only this will set him free and enable him to salvage his marriage as well as his career.
Although the story unfolds at a slow pace, never does your attention wane because there is such a sense of doom behind every word. The suspense builds so subtly that when Richie acts out, you are more relieved than surprised. To say that what happens is predictable would not do justice to the writing or the story telling, both of which are gripping. That is probably because Richie, himself, is such a complicated and compelling character.
I would be remiss if I didn�t mention that I was a bit disappointed with the last few chapters. In these last pages, events seem to happen at a breakneck speed in sharp contrast with the rest of the book. At this point in the book, I also would have much preferred a less than expected ending. Nevertheless, I do not hesitate to recommend HARD FEELINGS. Just be prepared for a dark ride.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the kind of book that starts out good and keeps getting better. I started reading the book in a bookstore at my local mall and after the first few pages I was hooked. The writer, Jason Starr, has a clean, hard edged style, reminiscent of the old hardboiled crime writers, but the story line is very modern. You can't help root for Richie Segal, even as he does some of the most dispicable things imaginable, and the ending is truly Hitchcockesque. I wish I could write a novel like this. One word sums it up: wow!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Montgomery VINE VOICE on January 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
The first original novel ever published by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (probably best known for reprinting Jim Thompson's books ) is this crackling noir thriller about a computer salesman with an unhappy marriage whose life starts to go down the toilet. Richie Segal's wife threatens to leave him, he might lose his job; even worse, events from his past keep haunting him. He starts to lose his grip. Finally, he decides to take decisive action to put things right. Naturally, that is when his trouble really begins.
The first two-thirds of the book, in particular, are excellent; crisp prose, interesting characters (especially the protagonist), and an excellent set-up that had me thirsting to see what happened next. Starr has a keen eye for the vagaries, quirks, and tensions of ordinary, humdrum life. The tension is all the better because we don't know what this boring salesman might do. Unfortunately, though, the pay-off was something of a let-down. The story is really rolling when the author basically cuts things off and ends the book with a surprise, not-very-satisfying climax, with essentially no resolution. It seemed as if there must be fifty pages missing from this book which develop the ending into a more meaningful conclusion.
These problems do not spoil "Hard Feelings," but they do turn it from a potentially great book into only a very good one. Jim Thompson would have taken a story like this and really put the screws to Richie Segal and his tormentors, raising the tension and suspense closer to a hardboiled ideal. I still recommend "Hard Feelings" to you, but next time out I hope that Mr. Starr gives us more.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Mystery Ink
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By "kenran22" on January 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book reminded me of watching one of those great old crime movies from the 40's and 50's. Starr sucks you into the life Richie Segal, a regular guy with some big-time problems, and he doesn't let you go until it's too late. The book has a lot of detail about New York City life (which is all dead on, by the way, because I used to live in the city) and the scenes with Richie, his wife, and the friends they meet in the berkshires are hysterical. Loved the deadpan humor and scenes with Richie and his salesmen colleagues too. The end actually gave me chills. One of the best crime novels I've read in a long time. Highly recommended.
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By Noirguy on July 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
Man, Jason Starr loves to absolutely ruin people's lives. Luckily he's only doing on the page. This was the fifth Starr book I've read and, true to form, he follows the descent of a relatively normal guy down a death spiral of his own making. Believe all the other people talking about the unrelenting tension. It is Starr's matter-of-fact style that does it for me. his books tend to roll out in almost real time where every day tasks (walking the dog, ordering take out) are infused with a ticking time bomb effect because of the character's situation.
Another winner from Starr.
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By A Customer on February 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
There's nothing terrifically ground-breaking about this novel, but at the same time there's a genuine integrity to the writing, as well as a firm grasp of character. The story doesn't so much falter at the end but tip its hand (you'd have to be completely out of it not to see what's coming), and this is forgiveable, if a bit annoying. It's nice to read a book that stays on the tracks as firmly as Starr's does. Check it out.
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