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The Delivery Man: A Novel Paperback – January 15, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Black Cat (January 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802170420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802170422
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,020,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sex, lies, crushed dreams and slot machines are paramount in McGinniss's flashy, fast-moving debut. Chase is a struggling artist who couldn't hack NYU and moves back to Vegas, where he is reunited with his adolescent flame, Michele. After being fired from his teaching job for beating up a student, Chase plans to hook up with his girlfriend, Julia, in California, but instead spends his summer as a chauffeur for Michele's call-girl business. Michele has plans for herself (buying a house, getting an advanced degree in women's studies), but for the time being is running the call-girl service out of a suite in the Versailles Palace Hotel and Casino with her boyfriend, Bailey. Girls too young for the job, readily available cocaine, untrustworthy business partners, memories of a family tragedy and glammed-out Vegas goons make Chase's summer more stressful than he had hoped for as he attempts to finish a few paintings for a group gallery show. The novel is action-packed, though the character development—particularly with the women—is sometimes superficial. McGinniss (son of another Joe McGinnis you may have heard of) successfully gambles with the notion that whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what does that mean for Chase and his plans to escape? (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“A dead-of-night story surehandedly told in a pared-down, teeth-bared style reminiscent of Joan Didion.” –Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander

“[A] flashy, fast-moving debut . . . McGinniss successfully gambles with the notion that whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” —Publishers Weekly

“[A] brisk, bleak debut novel…McGinniss manages to whip the yearning and confusion of the woefully inarticulate Chase into dramatic, even gripping fare….The Delivery Man offers unflinching glimpses at mores in free fall….Searing…Memorable…Not for the faint of heart.” –Ed Park, The New York Times Book Review

“McGinniss offers a fresh take on the seamy side of Vegas by focusing on the wasted lives of burned-out teens hooked on drugs and money. Even CSI doesn’t dig this deep.” —Carol Memmott, USA Today

“It’s sex, drugs, and a slew of lost souls in this engrossing story of a twenty-five-year-old known only as Chase. An out-of-luck wannabe artist, he retreats to his hometown—that being Vegas, a downward spiral ensues, thanks to madams and more….Could The Delivery Man be this decade’s Less Than Zero?” –Marie Claire

“Grim, convincing, and compelling…McGinniss charts [his characters’] aimlessness with insight and dexterity. Dare I say it? The Delivery Man really delivers.” –Art Taylor, The Washington Post

“An insider’s guide to the dark underbelly of twenty-first-century Las Vegas, brimming with brand names, hard bodies, hard drugs, and heavy doses of sex and violence. If that’s all you’re looking for, The Delivery Man won’t disappoint….But once you finish it, you won’t be able to get it out of your mind….The Delivery Man is that rare first novel that could well become a classic.” –Peter Bloch, Penthouse

The Delivery Man is balls-out scary….It’s a world where everyone’s too young and too high, and no one expects to live ‘til thirty….A fast-paced read [that] packs a wallop.” –Courtney Ferguson, Portland Mercury

“A novel of nonstop tension in a landscape so modern, so up to the minute, that you can set your watch by it.” —Craig Nova

“A gripping literary thriller and an auspicious debut.” —George Pelecanos

“Traveling through a Las Vegas no tourist ever sees, The Delivery Man vibrates with heat and fear, sex and heartbreak. This is a fast and terrifying novel—definitely not a ride for the squeamish.” —Jill Eisenstadt, author of From Rockaway

“The Delivery Man is a brutally clear-eyed and beautifully built story that shines a light on Las Vegas’ dark underbelly. In its unforgettable characters, its unflinching examination of a piece of America most of us would like to pretend does not exist, and its probing of the darkest urges of the human psyche, this novel has all the force and authority of top-shelf fiction, and marks the arrival of an important new voice on the American literary scene.” —Roland Merullo, author of In Revere, in Those Days and A Little Love Story

“A brutal portrait of today’s lost generation.” —Publishers Weekly

“Poor Chase: he feels like God’s Lonely Man, all longing and disillusionment, and no one disappoints him more than he disappoints himself. He’s part of a longstanding American tradition of hard guys with soft centers, guys with an exquisitely calibrated sense of their own self-degradation, like one of Bret Easton Ellis’s heroes refracted through Raymond Chandler. The Delivery Man is arresting on the way, in the face of our undoing, we’re inadequate but still culpable, and idealistic but still paralyzed.” —Jim Shepard, author of Love and Hydrogen and Project X

“This is a thrilling debut—a novel about youth wasting itself knowingly against the laid-back, glossy, trademark amorality of Las Vegas, told in a voice that sounds like that of a slightly older, hipper Holden Caulfield, coming of age in a place which has no past or future—only the cool, gleaming, terrifying present. Sexy, touching, always shrewdly observed, and with a killer ending, The Delivery Man is the Less Than Zero of the early 2000s—and the first step in what I am sure will be a remarkable career.” —Michael Korda, author of Another Life and Charmed Lives

“McGinniss never wavers from his ruthless portrayal of the morally bankrupt . . . this atmospheric page-turner gains increasing depth as it barrels toward a gut-wrenching conclusion.” —Booklist

“Impressive . . . What is most striking about this novel is McGinniss’s sense of place. He captures the bright bleakness of the Las Vegas beyond the Strip—the Las Vegas people actually have to live in—with an unpitying eye, a Las Vegas most of the characters loathe but seem incapable of leaving, like chips that can’t be cashed in.” —Robert Cremins, Houston Chronicle

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Customer Reviews

There was no character development.
The substory with the main character's sister is also a bit of a letdown, since it's a story that we've seen way too many times.
J. Bender
Author Joe McGinnis Jr. has crafted an unflinchingly gritty tale that captures a slice of modern drug-fueled youth culture.
Jessica Lux

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on March 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
Just as Chase, twenty-five year old stymied artist and now teacher at a Las Vegas high school, tells his class, "None of you are going anywhere," so is the case with this book. With his childhood friends, Michele, a sultry Latino, and rich kid Bailey, trying to run a prostitution service out a Las Vegas hotel, even involving high school girls, one would expect an edgy, exotic novel. Or perhaps a highly thoughtful examination of Las Vegas-like culture.

The book has a matter-of-factness feel throughout. Nothing is important. Chase's artistic trials and his failing relationship with his black, MBA girlfriend are not compelling. A high school kid starts a fight with Chase and gets him fired. That barely gets a rise. It the characters don't care, why should the reader.

The book does not flow well; it is more an assemblage of scenes. It is not gritty reality as some would have it. It's more formula than anything. Las Vegas sex - wow - and teenagers, too. The characters are bored and boring.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Doug on March 8, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a gritty and realistic novel about what it must be like to be young and hooked on the "easy" money of the Vegas sex worker's world of young girls and their male pimp partners. The main character has moved into a more legitimate world of education, art and business, classy future wife, etc., but is pulled into the shallow lifestyle of some of his previous high school girlfriends and friends, to temporarily get by and have somewhere to hang out. But like people who get hooked on drugs, he is pulled into this world gradually, fighting it, and yet it is always clear that he will be unable to pull out of his descent into this hellish world. The sex and drugs are never glamorized. It is clear that they all fall gradually into the pit and then can't get out because the money is good, their lives are clouded by drugs and alcohol and it is the world that they are given.

It would have been a better book if we were left with any hope for any of the characters. Perhaps he's telling us it's like having hope for heroin addicts. Once addicted, it's pretty hard to get out.

The book is pretty compelling, it moved well, had interesting characters and painted a realistic world. In the end, it was a bit too lugubrious for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lost High Guey on May 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
First of all, this book is filthy, pulpy, trashy, voyeuristic, morally ambiguous, violent, and sleazy. The characters are ruthless, unscrupulous, sex-addicted, drug popping, money hungry, reprehensible, irresponsible, dangerous and unpredictable. Yet, we love them because they have the two characteristics that make all sin eminently forgivable. They have youth. They have beauty.

And not one thing else matters. Oh yeah, except for the money.

Add in a character who is supposed to be the moral center of the book's universe and you can just see where this is going to go. But getting there with him is half the fun. Like watching Nicholas Cage drink himself to death, we get to see a talented artist who is in love with a beautiful prostitute try unsuccessfully to get past a tragedy in his life. We get to bear witness to the swath of destruction that he hacks across multiple lives by agreeing to be a part of her savage plans to make big money fast. It doesn't matter that his intentions are good, the fact that he can't quit this poisonous girl will be his destruction. That he is supposed to be the moral center means that his downfall will be swift and terrible.

Only at the end do you see a glimmer of hope, of recreation in the name of hate and revenge. He is finally transformed into something else, a monster with an eye for payback, his youth and his beauty gone but maybe a lesson learned and a hint of the coming revenge...but now I'm getting too close to writing a spoiler, so I'd better stop.

The plot is fast and the book isn't a towering force of literature. It is however a provocative read that will get you through a couple of airport stops or a boring vacation back home.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Bender on April 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
Captures perfectly a sad emotionally desolate world of Vegas teenagers and 20-somethings who can't see the world outside their own. Fast short book, spare prose, an interesting and, for the most part, likable main character.

What I liked about the book: As Y. Jarrells pointed out in an earlier review, I just can't get certain scenes out of my mind. Days after finishing the book, I'm still reliving them. Plus McGinnis Jr has a real way with words. At certain points, I could actually feel the Vegas sun beating down on the pavement. Finally, I'm a big fan of the grittier non-traditional ending.

What I didn't like about the book: The ending was non-traditional but it also wasn't particularly "strong." I find myself thinking more of scenes from the beginning and middle of the book. The substory with the main character's sister is also a bit of a letdown, since it's a story that we've seen way too many times. Finally, the writing wasn't quite as polished as it could have been. Some of the dialogue was choppy making the plot confusing at times. I almost felt like I needed to read it again (and I hope it's not a slight on my intelligence!)

Finally, I can't review this book without comparing it to Less than Zero which is its closest counterpart. Less than Zero was more obvious in its bleakness. Its world of rich unloved LA characters was more depressing but also less relatable (despite the fact I grew up in the burbs of LA!). Whereas I feel like I've at least met all the characters in The Delivery Man at least once in my life. Of course, none of my acquaintances were 16 year old hookers but therein lays the reason why the book is such a pitch-perfect ode to the whole Vegas scene where the skin trade is so prevalent.
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