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Nobody Move: A Novel Hardcover – April 28, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374222908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374222901
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #929,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. National Book Award–winner Johnson (Tree of Smoke) goes lean and mean in this slick noir, originally serialized in Playboy last summer. Jimmy Luntz, a chain-smoking, fast-talking addictive gambler, is in the hole several grand to underworld bad dude Juarez, and he knows his kneecaps have a date with a tire iron when enforcer Gambol nabs him in Bakersfield, Calif. But perennial loser Jimmy gets a lucky break when he escapes, having shot Gambol in the leg and taken off with Gambol's cash-fat wallet. Soon enough, he meets alcoholic vixen Anita Desilvera. She's barreling toward oblivion, having been set up by her prosecutor husband and a corrupt judge in a $2.3 million swindle. As Jimmy and Anita hide out and plan a caper to get the millions, Gambol and Juarez track down Jimmy and learn of the big money at stake. Fates collide in the brutal last act, and, naturally, not everyone makes it out alive. With its crackling dialogue and mercilessly bleak worldview, this stark and darkly funny chronicle of a four-way race to the bottom is a testament to Johnson's sublime sympathy for lowlifes. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

So noir it’s almost pitch-black, this follow-up to Johnson’s National Book Award-winning “Tree of Smoke” concerns a lovable loser named Luntz—barbershop-chorus member, Hawaiian-shirt wearer, and inveterate gambler—who is in debt to an underworld bad guy. “My idea of a health trip is switching to menthols and getting a tan,” he tells Anita Desilvera, a beautiful Native American woman whom he beds after a boozy night out, and who has bad guys of her own to escape. Against a desolate Western background of shantytowns and trailer parks, the pair’s story plays out largely according to the genre’s dictates, with wisecrack-laden dialogue and evenly dispersed cliffhangers that are a legacy of the work’s genesis as a serialization in Playboy. But there are also moments of arresting lyrical beauty—a river’s swollen surface under a crescent moon “resembled the unquiet belly of a living thing you could step onto and walk across.”
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Mark Stevens VINE VOICE on June 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Taut and spare, "Nobody Move" is a light year from the depth and complexity of "Tree of Smoke." Hats off to the versatility--one book like Joseph Conrad combined with Charles Dickens, the next out of the shoot like Elmore Leonard mashed up with Dashiell Hammett. On its own, "Nobody Move" is a pleasure if you like deciphering information from oblique dialogue and spare narrative. Your hand will not be held in terms of figuring out who's scamming whom. It's quirky and smart, maybe a bit of "Pulp Fiction" on paper.

"Nobody Move" is a thicket of f-bombs, tangled sheets, motels, bars, cigarettes, lipstick, pay phones, two Cadillacs, .357 Magnums, shotguns, duffel bags and pages and pages of that highly-polished, clipped dialogue that is ready for a screenplay and has precious little to do with the way people really talk. A direct answer is rare.

Recommended for fans of Denis Johnson and this particular hard-boiled genre. Not recommended for those looking for a meaty, rich story. The tension is minimal and the story is over in a minute.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Williamson TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 3, 2010
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Denis Johnson's Nobody Move as an audio CD seemed to have everything going for it. The author had received a National Book Award for Tree of Smoke, and this was said to be a follow-up. The New Yorker had said, "So noir it's almost pitch-black..." It had been in part a serialization in Playboy, and this audio version had Will Patton doing the reading. I was familiar with Mr. Patton's style from a number of his narrations of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux novels. All in all, looking forward to listening to these CDs was a fine thing to anticipate.

But it didn't turn out that way.

There's a cast of very marginal characters who, in a slightly noir classic sense, have a penchant for theft and violence. There's Jimmy Luntz, a bottom feeder of a gambler whom loves Hawaiian shirts and barbershop-chorus singing. There's a corrupt judge and lawyer who have embezzled a couple of million dollars, and the lawyer's beautiful wife Anita, who has been framed for the larceny, and she's ready for revenge.

There are more characters, but the problem with all of them is that they really have no depth; the entire story seems flat, yet almost claustrophobic. There's sex, but it also seems flat and not as erotic or even as passionate as one might expect, considering the characters. Jimmy takes Anita to bed after a booze-filled night at a local bar; they hop in bed, fall for each other, copulate, and scheme together. It's as flat as that, and often had this listener to the point of sometimes almost dozing off.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Reads like a B-movie script. No depth or character development. Waste of time. Book is same as this review.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Mitchell VINE VOICE on October 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There is virtually nothing to recommend this book except it is mercifully short. There is no character development and the plot, as thin as it is, is far-fetched. Lots of blood and core and amateurs shooting pros fill the 196 pages.

One of the leading characters, Luntz, is a loser of a gambler who owes big money. He shoots Gambol, the enforcer, in the leg. Being an amateur, he does not finish him off, so of course, Gambol survives to chase him down. At the same time, the beautiful damsel, Anita, about to plead guilty to embezzling $2.3 million, links up with Luntz for no accountable reason. The prosecutor and the judge have the money she embezzled, so of course, everyone joins forces to get it back. What few plot twists and turns that do occur all happen in the last twenty to thirty pages. They are too late and too feeble to save the book.

There was potential at the outset, with Luntz a possible loveable loser of a schmuck gambler and Anita a clever conniver. But the potential is frittered away.

I was not sure while reading this whether the book was an attempt to do a noir modernization of Hammett or a spoof of the genre. Either way it did not work for me. I found it lacking in either attempt. I would skip this one and, next time, I will not pick a book by the award the author won for a prior novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Randal on June 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've been a Denis Johnson fan for years and I don't know why this book doesn't get rated as high as his bigger, more 'serious' books. It's hilarious, and constantly moving, and completely absorbing - once I finished it I wanted to start it over again. Better than any of the thriller writers it is obviously indebted to, such as Leonard, or Hiassen, or Willeford. Doesn't waste a word, and ends when it's over, unlike Already Dead, which is great too but about a hundred pages too long! Read this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Cladt on August 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a longtime fan of Denis Johnson - I read "Angels" when it came out - I'm a bit surprised so many people knock this book. Personally, I think if you read "Nobody Move" for what it is - pulp - you can't help but appreciate a book like this. This highly visual novel has a strong and engaging plot that moves quickly and cinematically and the characters that inhabit it are suitably sleazy and full of contempt for mainstream society. Like Elmore Leonard always advised writers, Johnson leaves out the stuff a lot of readers often skip over. If you're a fan of Elmore Leonard I'd wager you'd appreciate "Nobody Move," for the simple fact that it tells a story and it tells it very, very well.
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