From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Lowlifes have never had it this good. Will Patton delivers a flawless reading of Johnson's novel of life on the lam. Patton, whose narration of Johnson's Book of Smoke was honored with an Audie Award, lowers his voice to a purring world-weary, chain smoking growl. He embodies each character with absolute authority—gambling addict Jimmy Luntz, on the run from kingpin Juarez, Juarez's bumbling strongman Gambol and the alcoholic karaoke aficionado, Anna Desilvera, who has the FBI on her tail. Listeners will be hooked—and quite possibly in stitches—from the first sentence of Patton's virtuosic performance. A Farrar, Straus & Giroux hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 12). (Apr.)
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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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